Q&A & #Giveaway with Deirdre Quiery - 12 Days of Christmas @urbanebooks #BlogTour

I'm delighted to be taking part in this special 12 Days of Christmas blog tour to celebrate some of the brilliant books published by Urbane Publications this year. Deirdre Quiery has very kindly answered a few questions for me today, and I have a fabulous giveaway but first here's the cover and description of her latest book, The Secret Wound.

Deirdre Quiery's follow up to the critical success of Eden Burning, The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets...and a potential murderer in their midst. One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger? Deirdre Quiery's gripping thriller is not just an addictive page turner, but provides a compelling exploration of human emotion and desires, and the terrible costs of jealousy and ambition. Perfect for fans of Jane Corry and Amanda Brooke.

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

I shot into the world with no-one around – apart from my mother! My mother had a heart condition which required her to have a heart valve operation when she was seven months pregnant with me. It was only the second open heart surgery in the UK at the time. The operation was a success but as it neared the time of my birth my mother could not convince the medical staff that she was about to give birth. She was left alone and I decided that now was the time to break free from the confinement of the womb. There was no-one there. My mother shouted for help and the nurses arrived and in their panic forgot to scrub up. As a result my mother developed peritonitis and her health deteriorated rapidly reaching the point where she felt herself being drawn to a circle of white light of peace and heard the doctors saying that they were losing her. From her viewing point floating towards the ceiling of the operating theatre, she saw me in the cot beside the bed and struggled to get back into her body. 
I share that because I believe that her loving decision to return to her body rather than go for that ultimate peace meant that during my life – I had an amazingly close relationship with my mother which has deeply impacted my writing.
I grew up in Belfast during “The Troubles” when the family was put out of our home in North Belfast and moved to “The Peace Line” on the Crumlin Road. Three car bombs were placed outside the house; two Uncles were murdered in sectarian murders. The house was taken over twice by the IRA. In one incident a cousin was killed in crossfire. 
That gave me a sense of wonder about how patterns of hatred are passed down from one generation to another and how it is possible to transcend that – to forgive and love. I began to see human life as being a paradox of holding good and evil within the same person and the holding of good and evil within the world. It didn’t frighten me. It was more of a mystery.
Those themes inspired both the writing of my first novel, Eden Burning and the second, The Secret Wound. In The Secret Wound I deepened my exploration of our fear of confronting the dark side of our nature and the nature of the world and its implications on our relationships with others.
I studied Spanish and Portugese at Leeds University. The degree was strongly literature focused. I loved the Golden Age of Spanish literature and reading poets like Saint John of the Cross and Garcia Lorca. 
My first real job was as a District Manager in Financial Services. It was great fun. I studied for the necessary Banking exams. Then I joined a global Talent Consultancy and had a Sales role with them and a Consultancy role. I still work with them freelance and have travelled in 28 countries and worked with 60 different international companies running leadership workshops which are all about conflict resolution, communication, building trust and leading change. That also allows me to work with understanding the patterns of the past which hold us back from forgiveness and love. To help me understand that from a “perennial” or universal perspective – I studied for an MSc in Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology at John Moore’s University, Liverpool.
Fifteen years ago with my husband we gave everything up – our house, all that we had accumulated over the years of our marriage and moved to Mallorca with the cat and two suitcases. We lived in an olive grove for over a year with no running water, no television, and no internet.  I began to write. 
What really impacted me was how much I felt connected with nature once the distractions of work had been placed to one side. My writing reflects this.
However, life had to continue with work of some kind. After a series of adventures I began to work freelance. That allowed time to work, write and paint. 
Then the economic crisis hit in 2008 and my father was dying from dementia. That was rock bottom time. The writing became even more important to get through. Martin and I survived selling our art and eating pine nuts (only joking about the pine nuts!)

Synopsis of The Secret Wound
I have always been fascinated by the “secrets” which people keep and take with them to the grave. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of any human being is what we don’t know and will never know.
I also liked exploring the idea of the meaning of the Greek word “persona”. Persona means “per” which is through and “sonore” which means sound. So wearing a mask in Greek theatre was meant to symbolise that an individual was not an independent being but a “sounding through” emanating from a Source.  I made a connection between the secrets which people hold, sounding through to a primordial wounding which if faced would take you to the true Source understood by the Greeks as the Source of Being.
I know that may sound rather abstract and that it seems as if I should lie down for a moment or two and get over it! However, the challenge then is to take those seeds of fascination and turn them into a concrete and interesting story. 
Gurtha – a key protagonist - goes to Mallorca after his mother Nuala is murdered and his life is in disarray. He does not know who killed Nuala or why she was murdered. He decides to spend 40 days on the beautiful Mediterranean island to take stock of his life and to find a new direction and meaning for life. He meets with a circle of friends within the ex-pat community; dark secrets are revealed which transform each of their lives. Within 40 days the secret about who murdered Nuala is unlocked and Gurtha’s life is given a new sense of direction.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

I have always loved reading. My mother took me to Ligoniel Library in Belfast when I was aged seven and I got my first three library tickets. I still have the visual memory of what they looked like. They were brown cardboard with a little slit – like you would get now booking into a hotel and instead of a plastic card to open your hotel room door – there was a small card which opened the door into the world of an author of your choice. I also remember the thrill of excitement of receiving those library tickets. It might be like someone might feel if they had won the lottery.
So I was a great reader, hiding under the sheets with a torch to finish my books when my mother thought that I was sleeping.
Afterward for more than 15 years before beginning writing my first novel, I kept journals. I would sit in a cafĂ© and watch people and write what I saw and what I imagined about their lives. I would read books and note down inspirational thoughts. At that time, I did not believe they would lead to writing a novel. However, arriving in Mallorca, I reviewed the journals and knew that I did not want to write autobiography but to write a novel – to tell a good story.
I mentioned that the economic crisis of 2008 meant that my husband and I had neither work nor money. One weekend, my husband plucked up the courage to ring our entire network of friends (many of whom were very wealthy and for whose children we were godparents) and he asked for a loan to allow me to write. We promised that we would repay the loan. Only two friends from our extensive network offered any money. It amounted to 15,000 and with only eating pine nuts ☺ It allowed one year to write.
After 2010, work started trickling in. We repaid our two friends and the credit cards which were extremely overdrawn. I continued writing and doing the freelance work. 

When I finished my first novel Eden Burning – I began to think about how to get it published. I bought The Artist and Writer’s Yearbook and started researching for Agents who might be interested in my writing. Then I attended a conference on Mindfulness in the Workplace at Cranfield University and met someone who had been on a workshop I had run 5 years before. She asked me what I was doing. I explained. She recommended Matthew from Urbane Publications. I contacted Matthew, sent him 10,000 words of my first book with a synopsis and waited to see what would happen! He contacted me within 3 days and said that he would like to publish it.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

I remember at school my English teacher looking at me with a quizzical look when I was eleven and asking if I would like to try a new book. It was E M Forester’s “A Room with a View”. I loved it. When I returned on Monday morning to school Miss Hamill asked how I found it. I told her that I loved it and there was such a look of joy on her face. She then knew that she could introduce me to many other authors. I jumped from Enid Blyton and “The Famous Five” to E M Forester in a weekend.
I also liked the writing of Jean Genet – “The Thief’s Journal”. I still remember his words and his journey as Sartre described it from “vagrant to writer”. I fear I might go from “writer to vagrant!
Once I find a writer I like, I would recommend all their works. I avidly absorb them all.
Writers include Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Graham Greene, J M Coetzee, Iris Murdoch, A S Byatt, Margaret Drabble, John Banville and Julian Barnes.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
I loved Enid Blyton and “The Famous Five” and “The Hardy Brothers” – pure comfort reading. 
I then moved onto Evelyn Waugh, P G Woodhouse and Graham Greene, amongst others.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

Without doubt it was receiving the call from Matthew from Urbane to say that he would publish my first novel Eden Burning. It was perhaps one of the happiest moments of my life.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the book launch in London in July of this year for The Secret Wound which we did with an exhibition of my art and the singing of Molly Sterling who represented Ireland in the Eurovision in 2015.
It felt like a meeting of friends.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My husband Martin who has been so wonderful reading and editing my writing, never giving up on me and allowing me to do less consulting work to write while he carries the responsibility of making sure we have enough money to live!
Matthew Smith from Urbane Publications. I totally trust him. I like his values and his way of being and have only ever felt supported and encouraged by him.
Rachel Connor who is also a writer and Senior Lecturer in Creative Literature has been wonderful as a mentor and reviewer of my writing.
I have felt supported by many of reviewers of my books and am grateful to them for taking the time to do these reviews.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions in so much detail, Deirdre, I really appreciate it. The Secret Wound is available to purchase here.

I have a fantastic giveaway (open internationally) today too -  three lucky people can win a paperback copy of both Eden Burning and The Secret Wound thanks to the the lovely people at Urbane! All you have to do is retweet my pinned tweet on Twitter and I'll randomly choose three winners after 9pm on Friday 22nd December. Good luck!

About the Author

Author website - http://www.deirdrequiery.com/
Twitter -  @SupernovaQ
Eden Burning You Tube Trailer 
The Secret Wound You Tube Trailer