Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Louise Phillips Interview


Today I'm chatting to Louise Phillips about her second novel The Dolls House. In The Dolls House we enter the fascinating arena of childhood memories and repression when one of the characters Clodagh, seeks the help of a hypnotherapist to unravel her past. Phillips leads us, step by step, into the murky world of memory. I really enjoyed this book. I have a gripe about endings in novels, many good books are wonderful at building tension only to fall flat at the end - this novel doesn't, instead it builds to a riveting climax in the last chapters. It's an excellent psychological crime thriller with a very satisfying end. I had loads of questions but I whittled them down to three -

You tried out hypnotism yourself Louise while researching The Doll’s House -  and those scenes are particularly vivid, and quite hypnotic of course! - but were you nervous about doing this? How did those sessions go?

No, I wasn’t nervous, but it was a long battle in the end. I didn’t realise that my conscious mind would put up so many obstacles. In part, I was a victim of knowing too much about hypnosis, having researched it for months. I kept second guessing the hypnotist at every turn. I am also what hypnotists refer to as an ‘analytical resistor’, and therefore it was more difficult for me. In the end, Keith Barry referred me to Tony Sadar, and although I haven’t yet successfully regressed to an earlier memory, I have managed to experience hypnosis.

The scenes in the novel are quite vivid, and really seem to have captured many readers in a very special way, which is amazing.

Do you enjoy the research part of writing? Can it be difficult to know when to stop researching and start writing?

I love the research, and I think it’s an important part of the process, especially in a crime novel. I tend to do a lot while the story is germinating in my head, then once I start writing, more avenues of research arise, and in the main, I do these concurrently with the writing process. I think once I start getting information together, I reach a point where the story is bubbling over in my mind and I have to start writing it. I’m an organic writer. I don’t plot, even those my novels are both character and plot based. It’s an adventure for me, and when you’re in the thick of the story, and you need to go on another information gathering exercise, that’s part of the adventure.

What has been your most nerve wracking experience in terms of research over the course of both books?

Hmmm… interesting question. It was probably the whole area of child abduction and murder in RED RIBBONS. As a parent, I had to face my own worse fears, but in both novels, I’ve tackled difficult subject matters, and as the writer, a responsibility comes with this. You are writing fiction, but readers enter your fictional world, and are influenced by what they read. Hand on heart, I can say, I haven’t run away from difficult issues, or used them purely for shock factor, but they are part of our world, and there’s a need to explore them with balance.

Thanks Louise for that glimpse into the world of a crime writer, and here's some more about the book, which has its very own trailer....


“Middle-aged male, multiple stab wounds, found drowned in the canal. You have my number. Call me.”
This is the message criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson receives one cold Saturday morning from Detective Inspector O’Connor, spoken in his usual curt manner. The middle-aged male in question is Keith Jenkins, the host of a popular TV programme, and as Kate and O’Connor begin their investigation, they find themselves faced with more questions than answers.
The past . . .
Following her mother’s recent death, Clodagh has begun to explore her past – her memories of her father, who died in a mysterious accident, and the dark tragedy that seeped through the cracks of her childhood home. When she begins to visit a hypnotherapist, scenes from her childhood begin to take shape, with interjections from a sometimes sinister cast of dolls.
. . . is waiting . . .
As Kate continues to investigate the disturbing details of the vicious murder, she is drawn closer to Clodagh’s unsettling family history. What terrible events took place in the Hamilton house all those years ago? And what connects them to the recent murder?
Time is running out for Clodagh and Kate. And the killer has already chosen his next victim…

THE DOLL’S HOUSEhas been described by crime writer, Niamh O’ Connor, as ‘chilling, mesmerising. Gets under your skin and stays with you,’ and by Myles Mc Weeney of the Irish Independent, as, ‘A gripping, suspenseful story, peopled with well-drawn characters…’

Born in Dublin, Louise Phillips returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. That year, she was selected by Dermot Bolger as an emerging talent. Her work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers' Centre Lonely Voice platform. She has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and long-listed twice for the RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition.
Her bestselling debut novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Irish Book Awards. The Doll's House is her second novel.

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Yes, I’m still here! And still writing... I decided to reawaken the blog as I miss its old style, slow style - which suits my own at the mom...