Saturday, July 29, 2017

Helena Duggan & the specs that inspired a novel

Helena Duggan is a writer from Kilkenny, a medieval, haunted city in the south of Ireland.  A Place Called Perfect is her first book. I met Helena many years ago on a writing course. Our group got on so well, that we still meet regularly and hound each other to keep writing:) 
Hi Helena! What inspired you to write A Place Called Perfect?
the original glasses!
I always wanted a pair of round rimmed glasses. Most people think when I tell them that I must’ve loved John Lennon or Harry Potter, and while Harry Potter is definitely on my list of favorite people - neither is the reason for my love of round specs. It was actually James Joyce who sparked my interest. I’d love to say I'd admired Joyce’s work from an early age, but truth be told, I didn’t know who he was outside of the fact that he was a man in a painting my mother owned and he wore the coolest glasses. Years later I saw a similar pair in an antique shop in Australia and I bought them convinced I would change the lenses and wear them myself. That never happened. The more I carried the glasses the more I began to think about their last owner. I wondered if he or she were dead and surmised they were as I the glasses were antique. I began to think about that person and their life. Maybe their memories had become locked inside the lenses and if I got rid of them - I’d be throwing away the last pieces of that person. This idea set me on the path to Perfect.

Perfect is a fascinating place, is it based on anywhere in particular? What was it like creating a world?

It’s based on Kilkenny. I hadn’t started out basing it here, it just kind of happened organically. I needed a family name and I chose Archer. It’s prominent in Kilkenny’s history, and it lent itself to both good and evil characters. Then I needed a place where part of the town could be hidden inside the other part without anyone noticing. Kilkenny’s High street sits above Kieran’s Street and its stone walls. I began to play with the idea of extending few walls here and there and locking Kieran Street inside the rest of the Town. This worked well as did the underground passages, cobbled roads and medieval graveyards of Kilkenny and slowly Perfect began to take shape. It was never a concise decision just something that happened really and I wasn’t aware that I was creating a world until it was created, otherwise I’m not sure I’d be able to do it ;)

And, last question Helena! Who is your favorite writer?
I love Roald Dahl, I read his books loads when I was younger and loved his language and how he made up his own words. Most of what I remember while reading his books is laughter. I think I laughed a lot and that feeling has stuck with me. I also really love JK Rowling's Harry Potter books. I haven’t read any of her other works. I think Harry Potter has stuck with me because she created a totally believable story right from the beginning, none of the seven books feel contrived and the whole idea which was huge has very few plot holes. Her world feels real to me!

About A Place Called Perfect… Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be neat and tidy and perfectly behaved all the time?
But Violet quickly discovers there's something weird going on – she keeps hearing noises in the night, her mum is acting strange and her dad has disappeared.
When she meets Boy she realizes that her dad is not the only person to have been stolen away...and that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!

You can buy your copy HERE  at Amazon - or all good bookshops

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