Sunday Sojourn – with Stella H. Birrell
Greetings all! Today, I’m welcoming back Stella H. Birrell, who joined me previously to talk about the launch of her Crooked Cat novel, How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right?
Hi Jennifer, and thanks for having me along to your Sunday Sojourn.
You’re welcome! So, tell me about your latest release.
How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? is a chick lit story, with added grit, and several time jumps to keep you guessing where happy endings lie. It’s my debut novel, and the very first full length piece I wrote. Reviewers have said it is ‘more refined chick lit’ and likened it to Jill Mansell.
Do you use real or imagined settings? Or both? If both, which do you prefer?
I use 100% real settings, even if I choose to use a fictitious name. I like to think my readers will either recognise my descriptions, if they’ve been there, or easily picture the towns and cities I describe. My first novel is part-homage to Edinburgh, where I used to live.
Tell me about your research process – are you able to stay focused, or do you get distracted easily by new, interesting snippets or facts?
The way I research is quite bitty. I’ll be halfway through a chapter, and then I’ll send an email to a friend that might know the answer to a particular question. If I want more than one opinion, I love the variety of responses you get when you ask a question on Facebook. For the second novel I set up an interview with a – well let’s say, a professional in their field, because I don’t want to give away too much – which was enormously helpful. The other thing I’ll do is send through an excerpt, a staff room scene to a teacher perhaps. But it never has to be 100% accurate. The test I use it ‘is it plausible?’
If you could have written the back catalogue, or even just one novel, or any other writer, who would it be, and why?
Oh Jane Green, always. She is my absolute, top favourite writer, and I’ve followed her career for many years now. Her novels are all stand-alone stories, and as she’s matured as a person, her characters and themes have matured too. But her writing is just exquisite: easy to read, great dialogue, and the stories unfold carefully. I love to read her books.
If you could visit any historical event or period (as a witness only, no interfering!), which would it be, and why?
Oh can I go to Woodstock please? That heady sixties summer of love atmosphere would be amazing to experience, not to mention the celebrity-spotting I could do.
And how about ‘re-writing’ the history books? Which single event would you rework, how and why?
Given that my grandad died at 31 in World War 2, I’d like to rework the senseless waste of that time, perhaps by doing something about Hitler?
I have to say, disposing of Hitler somehow is by far the most popular answer to that question… Finally, you’re allowed a whole afternoon with anyone from history – who would you choose, and what would you discuss?
I’d love to meet Emily Dickinson: her poetry, the thrall of Massachusetts, and her reclusive life all fascinate me. If it means I get to visit her house in Amherst, too that would be great. I’ve never been to New England but I would love to go there one day. Emily’s writing was, in so many ways, ahead of its time. I’d also tell her we put the all her dashes back in, and that she’s considered one of the greatest American poets of all time – I do like to be the bearer of good news.
Thanks for joining me, Stella!
Thank you for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this interview, my book, How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? is available from the following places
How to find Stella: please head over and say ‘hi’ in one or more of these places.
Her blog space is https://atinylife140.wordpress.com/
Twitter is @atinylife140, and she can be found on Facebook here.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.