Christine Dibley is a Tasmanian mother pursuing a writing career, beginning with her debut To The Sea. We were fortunate to be included in her blog tour for the release of her debut and would like to share with you what we learned of her and her book.
Hi Christine and Welcome to Beauty and Lace, thanks for talking to us.
What made you pursue a writing career?
In the end, pursuing a career in writing was a small step for me. The word is that there is not much money to be made in writing so having a ‘writing career’ is a real act of faith. It took me most of my adult life to accept the risk of writing and failing. I have always been a reader and have always told stories and always wanted to write. And then one day I looked at my life: successful highly paid CEO, children raised, mortgage paid. Risk gone. And so I sat down at my desk feeling as light as sunshine and just started writing. We shall see if it becomes a career. I hope so.
To The Sea is your debut novel, can you tell us a little about it?
I am probably the worst person to ask. Neither my publisher nor I can allocate it a genre. I think it is about family and the secrets we keep and the relationships we get wrong and the time we waste trying to fix what we think are the important things in our lives. All of that said, it is a love story and the story of a missing girl and the despair her disappearance causes in the people around her. Like the story at the centre of the book, To The Sea is in the tradition of an Irish fairy tale. And Irish fairy tales are cautionary tales. Dark tales. I hope I have captured the true essence of every Irish fairy tale: careful what you wish for, lest your wish comes true.
What inspired the story?
Subconsciously, my whole life and my understanding of the world inspired it. More specifically, the stories I was told as a child by my mother, the stories I heard traveling in Ireland, Scotland and Iceland, my love of the Icelandic Sagas; in fact my love of mythology and great legends from so many cultures. A good story is timeless. I started writing not knowing where I was going. I started with a drowned girl and then I let my mind wander and my fingers followed on the key board. I rambled terribly but I never lost the core of the story which kept pulling me back to it.
The story is told by four different characters, what made you choose so many storytellers?
I think they chose me. One of the things I have noticed when listening to Irish people tell a story is that there is never one story teller. The original teller is frequently interrupted by others saying ‘no, no, no, that’s not how it goes’ and ploughing off in a slightly different direction until someone else feels the need to put that teller straight. They are all telling the same story and the essence of the story is never lost but the players and the sequence of events and the ramifications of the story, particularly for the hero, are always vigorously debated. Scottish stories are told in a very similar manner. And so when I started writing, I found other voices clamouring in my head, ‘no, no, no, it wasn’t like that’ and I just went with it. It got very confusing sometimes but I just couldn’t tell it any other way.
Was it difficult to keep all their stories straight and separate?
It was, until I gave up and just let them all go for it. After I felt the book was finished, I had all the different sections. They were not written sequentially and so I had multiple John, Sadie, Eva and Tony sections and each of those had a dozen subsections. It was all over the place and I couldn’t pull it together. I certainly didn’t have something I could send off to a publisher. It was more a transcription of a group of locals shooting the breeze in a pub on the Mayo coast one snowy night. It was great fun but it wasn’t a book. After weeks of trying and failing to get it under control, I wrote the first line of every section and subsection on a yellow post-it. On my dining room window, which is two metres by two metres, I stuck all seventy-one notes up and then started moving them around. They covered the window and I stood in front of that chaos until I had them arranged in what read as a coherent story. It took me three months. I would never write a book like that again. I think I went a little bit crazy during that final process.
Being your debut novel can you tell us how it felt when you saw your first print copy of the book?
I was deliriously happy. I never thought I would get published. I never thought something I wrote could look so beautiful. It is a beautiful looking book. I stroked it and smelled it and sat on the couch smiling to myself for a ridiculous amount of time. I have pulled myself together now but I still smile as I walk past the book case and see it out of the corner of my eye.
Who are your favourite authors?
Ah, so many. My life was changed as a teenager by Yukio Mishima, Emily Bronte and Vladimir Nabokov so they will always be precious to me. I adore John Banville, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Valerie Martin and Pat Barker. That said, I also adore George R R Martin.
What was your favourite book of 2016?
There were some great books published this year and I was going to name four but, you asked for my favourite, so I will go with His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood is a very close second.
We are right at the beginning of a new year, are there any books you are super excited for in 2017?
Well, I do wish George R R Martin would spend more time at his desk and finish the Game of Thrones series.
Thanks for your time Christine, good luck with the release and the blog tour.