I am delighted to kick off my series of WELSH WEDNESDAYS today. After exactly five months living in this beautiful country I made contact with a bunch of seriously talented writers. Today I’m starting with crime fiction author Thorne Moore.
Thorne Moore, born in Luton, went to Aberystwyth University to study history. She worked as a library assistant before setting up a restaurant in Pembrokeshire with her sister Liz. In order to pay for a law degree with the OU, she worked in various places – job centre, CPS, library – but prefers to be self-employed, best of all, as a writer. On Friday(25th), Thorne will be at Castell Henllys in Felindre Farchog, SA41 3UR for a ‘Tea with an Author’ session.
First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
I’ve lived in north Pembrokeshire for the last 32 years. A branch of my family comes from this area. There is even a distant family link to the events of 1797 – the last invasion of Britain near Fishguard. My mother’s family moved to Cardiff, and then on to Luton, where I was born. My return to the area was entirely fortuitous – I came to run a restaurant. Wouldn’t dream of leaving now.
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was at school, which is why I ignored my headmaster’s recommendation to study law. If I’d listened, I’d probably be rich by now. I spent most of my time at college writing, instead of studying. I finished up with about two dozen books and some very near misses with publishers, but it wasn’t until I found myself critically ill in hospital that I decided, belatedly, to stop wasting time, and look more critically and professionally at my work. Since I was half Welsh, living in Wales, and writing about Welsh women, I thought I might just fit the bill with Honno Welsh Women’s press, and they published “A Time For Silence” in 2012. My second published book, “Motherlove,” came out this year. More are in the pipeline
Why did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)?
My genre is crime, or mystery perhaps, but my books are not traditional whodunits, with police investigations. I don’t expect my readers to be waiting in suspense for the last page, where all is revealed. I prefer them just to be left thinking about the subject. Crime – not necessarily murder – is a nasty thing in real life, but it makes a great dramatic focus for human drama. I am interested in why bad things happen and what repercussions follow, rather than an intriguing web of clues. A traumatic event pushes ordinary people out of their normal behaviour patterns and make them deal with things they’d prefer not to confront. How they do the confronting is what interests me.
Tell us about the concept behind your book(s).
Both my books were inspired by true(ish) stories, which made me think, so I imagined that thought-provoking stories could flow from them. The place which inspired my first book, “A Time For Silence,” was a ruined cottage that stood two fields away from the end of my garden, lost in thick undergrowth, with old bits of furniture still visible under the collapsing upper floor and an iron pot still on the old rusting hearth. It is still there, but the undergrowth has been cleared away, the interior stripped out, and I’ve spotted a notice applying for planning permission nearby, so any ghosts have gone now. Such cottages are quite common around here, and I’d heard some gossip about an even that had happened at one of them – a crime, with a known culprit and yet the police had taken no action. I was intrigued by the idea of a society so closed that it could keep crimes covered. In my investigations, I came across another story in an old newspaper – a sad account of a magistrate’s court case, which showed how people could covertly know the truth, and still overtly deny it. All the strands came together in a story of family secrets, investigated 60 years on, by someone who cannot really appreciate what life would have been like on an isolated Welsh farm in the 30s and 40s.
My second book, “Motherlove,” was inspired by the story of María Eugenia Sampallo Barragán, an Argentian, who took her parents to court, when she discovered that they were not her parents after all. She had been born, in a torture centre, to a couple who were murdered by the military regime, and she had been handed over to a supporter of the regime.
María was on bad terms with her adopted parents, which made sense of her decision to prosecute them. By contrast, other children adopted in similar circumstances, had loving relationships with their presumed parents, and didn’t want to learn the truth. It was the differing responses to the situation that led me to write “Motherlove” about two young women, who find that their mothers are not, genetically speaking, their real mothers. One is happy with the woman who brought her up, and doesn’t see any problem. The other is unhappy, and sees her adoption as the root cause of all her woes. But the book also focusses upon three women who were expecting to be mothers, twenty-two years before, and what they went through when a crisis happened.
What is your life like outside of writing?
When I’m not writing, since I have to earn a living by other means, I make miniature furniture for collectors (www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk). I live in an apparently Victorian farm cottage, that turns out to be on the site of a Mediaeval mansion, which explains the cobble, timbers and huge stone lintels that can be found not far below the surface. I’m a keen gardener, though I was keener before arthritis set in. I love walking on the coast path or the hills, which are only a couple of miles away, but not nearly as often as I’d like.
A book that invariably makes me laugh: “The Tin Men,” by Michael Frayn, for many reasons, but most of all for its brilliant guide to how to be a writer.
A book that made me cry: “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” by Rachel Joyce, which caught me off guard when I thought I was way past crying over books.
Which Welsh person would you like to invite for dinner and what would you serve?
Neu Bevan. I might treat him to a dinner as served at Withybush hospital, to show him what dire straits the NHS has come to, but that would be cruel.
Who is your favourite Welsh author?
A bit predictable, but it has to be Dylan Thomas. My mother was a fan of his work, before he was famous. I grew up with the original BBC recording of Under Milk Wood, with Richard Burton, which remains, for me, the only example of a radio play that sees radio plays as an art form in their own right, not merely as a second-class version of a traditional play, adapted for the visually challenged (although Shakespeare’s Henry V comes close).
What is the best thing about Wales?
The sea, the beaches, the hills, the air, the flowers, the woods, the lack of McDonald’s.
What are you working on now?
A novel set in a semi-derelict Welsh mansion. When I moved to this area, they are as plentiful as ruined cottages. It’s a story about the shadows of the past, the shadows being created by the present, and people crippled by guilt.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
Best thing: what’s not to like? Language and complex thought are what distinguish us from animals. To use language and to think things through is to be human. Can’t think of any better way to pass the time than to put down my thoughts on paper and share them with other people.
Worst thing: writing can lead to rather lonely tunnel vision. You can be so obsessed by your own story and precious words, all inside your own head, that you lose the ability to stand to one side and notice, critically, that you’ve written rubbish. There’s nothing so constructive as having a really good editor who notices where you’ve gone wrong.
If you want to connect with Thorne, on Friday(25th), Thorne will be at Castell Henllys in Felindre Farchog, SA41 3UR for a ‘Tea with an Author’ session.
Or visit her Website: www.thornemoore.co.uk
Facebook page: thornemoorenovelist
or find her books on her Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1KrsNCg