Thursday, July 7, 2016

Interview with B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Rosaline Riley

Please join me in welcoming B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Rosaline Riley to A Literary Vacation!  Rosaline was born and grew up in Lancashire in the north of England. She lives in London now, and has one husband, four grown up children and five grandchildren.

For many years she was a literature tutor in the Lifelong Learning Department at Warwick University where she specialised in teaching 20th century and contemporary novels, both on the university campus and in outreach locations around the area. For her this was a dream job. What could be better than studying novels with groups of interested readers?

When she moved to London in 2006 she began writing seriously, attending novel writing courses at Birkbeck College and the Faber Academy.

To date, she has written and published two novels – The End of the Road which has recently been awarded a BRAG Medallion and Clad in Armour of Radiant White which was awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence.

She is now working on her third novel – which is set in Australia, a country that she and her husband fell in love with eleven years ago and are always looking for excuses to revisit.


Hello, Rosaline, and welcome to A Literary Vacation! To start off with, please tell us a little about your book, The End of the Road?

Thank you Colleen. I’m delighted to be here.

The End of the Road is about two women - Jane, whose husband Neil has recently died, and her friend Fran who also happens to be the mother-in-law of her daughter Lucy. The novel opens when Fran, who has just arrived for a weekend visit with Jane, suddenly and inexplicably goes missing, throwing Jane’s life and those of their inter-related families into turmoil. 

In the days and months following this traumatic event, one guilty secret after another comes to light and Jane is forced to re-assess both her marriage and her relationship with Fran.

So it is a novel about betrayal and deception and the problem of forgiveness. ‘Forgive and forget’ – easy to say, impossible to do. It is also, though, about friendship – female friendship, a complex subject which seems to be something of a preoccupation of mine as it also figures large in my other novel Clad in Armour of Radiant White.


It sounds like The End of the Road is chock-full of familial loss and drama as well as a mystery component. Where did the idea for the story originate from?

The End of the Road is the second novel I wrote. When the first one wasn’t considered ‘commercial’ enough I set about looking for something that might be considered more so. Having someone go missing seemed like a good idea, so I started from there.

Did you have an outline of how things would proceed and conclude from the beginning, or did you develop the story as you wrote it?

For me there’s a whole creative process to be gone through before I even think about starting to write. Ideas appear, I start to play around with possible plot scenarios, characters begin to take shape in my mind. The more time I spend on this preliminary phase the more things change. And once I start the actual writing, this creative process continues and yes, I do change and develop the story (and the characters) as I go along.
With The End of the Road it became clear, quite early on, that the ‘missing person’ opening was merely a catalyst for what is essentially a novel about relationships. And once the themes of the novel became clear it became easier to plot my way towards what I hope is a psychologically satisfying ending.
Did you do any research, possibly into the grieving process or procedures when a person goes missing, before writing the story? If so, was there anything you learned as part of the research process that surprised or shocked you?

When I started down the missing persons track I did a bit of online research on police procedure and prosecution policy. Similarly, I did look into bereavement counselling. But it was reading up about the complex psychological implications of forgiveness that I found the most interesting and revealing as this became a theme which found its way into my novel in ways that I hadn’t anticipated at the outset.  

"The question of forgiveness, though, continued to exercise her. Who benefitted from it, she wondered, the forgiver or the forgivee? (If there was such a word?) If the forgivee was dead – which Neil was – it couldn’t possibly matter to him whether she forgave him or not. However, it might make a difference to her. If she could bring herself to forgive him – not necessarily right away, but in time – then she might rid herself of all this destructive rage. Forgive and forget, isn’t that what they say? (Them again.) But how hard it was to forgive. And how utterly impossible it would be to forget – regardless of the benefits of doing so." - (The End of the Road)

I know that many authors are often big readers as well. Do you have a favorite genre, or do you like to jump around a bit? Do you have any favorite authors?

When I was teaching, my focus was on literary fiction (does that counts as a genre?) - mainly 20th century and contemporary fiction, with an emphasis on women writers.

But since becoming an indie author myself I’ve been reading a lot of other indies across a variety of genres, e.g. historical, crime, thrillers. So far, though, I haven’t been tempted by fantasy and/or the paranormal, of which there seems to be such a lot around!

There are many authors whose books I have enjoyed reading. One of my all-time favourites has to be Virginia Woolf. I have read To the Lighthouse many times. I’m also an admirer of Katherine Mansfield, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, to name a very few. Recently I discovered the novels of Elena Ferrante and read them all compulsively. A wonderful experience!

And male writers? I love Peter Carey’s novels, and I have enjoyed reading Jonathan Franzen. (Not sure why that sounds a bit like a confession!)

What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing and the rest of your life?

I try very hard to have a consistent, daily writing routine, but needless to say I rarely manage this for any length of time.

After breakfast I do yoga (gentle yoga, you understand!) then I aim to write for the rest of the morning. The idea is to make these morning writing sessions compulsory. Life, however, will keep getting in the way of them. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but I have to admit that often I’m guilty of using ‘life’ as an excuse for my own lack of self-discipline.

Once I’m into a novel it becomes easier to sit down and get on with it. But I don’t plough on until I get to the end. I edit and edit as I go along. (If editing were an Olympic sport I’d be a medal contender.) And then when I do get to the end I start editing all over again. This is the part of novel writing I like the best and when I’m at this stage I can sit down for hours at a time every day. 

I’m now embarking on my third novel, having just spent six weeks in Australia (where it is set) researching it, and I’m so full of enthusiasm and determination at the moment that my morning sessions are going well.

What drew you to independently publish The End of the Road as opposed to seeking traditional publishing?

I wrote most of The End of the Road while on the Faber Academy’s six-month Novel Writing course. At the end of the course, I did have a couple of agents interested in it but (at the end of the day) they didn’t take it further. Times are hard in the publishing industry; people are reluctant to take on first-time novelists.

I then sent it out to a bunch of other agents but it soon became clear that I was wasting my time. So I was faced with the choice of either giving up on it, or publishing it myself. I felt that it was good enough, so I chose to do the latter. And I have to say that I’ve been very pleased with my decision.
How did you discover indieBRAG and what does it mean to you to have The End of the Road awarded the BRAG Medallion?

I am a member of a wonderful organization called ALLi – the Alliance of Independent Authors – and it was through this that I heard about indieBRAG. It comes very highly recommended and many of its members are themselves BRAG Medallion Honorees.

I submitted The End of the Road because, like I said, I thought it was good enough to be published, but it is one thing to think that oneself, another to have quality external validation. When I heard it had been awarded the medallion I was absolutely thrilled!
Thank you, Rosaline, for taking the time to answer my questions!!
You can learn more about Rosaline and her books on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase The End of the Road on Amazon and Amazon UK.
A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Colleen has chosen to interview Rosaline Riley, who is the author of The End of the Road, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ® , a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Past Encounters merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


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