01-02-2013 10:26 AM
Q&A with Lisa O’Donnell
The Death of Bees
Lisa, welcome to the B&N.com General Fiction forum. And congratulations for being picked for the Discover Great New Writers Winter/Spring section at B&N review (look for it soon).
Debbie - Tell us about your newly released novel, The Death of Bees.
Lisa - The Death of Bees is a coming of tale about two sisters Marnie (15) and Nelly (12) who discover their drug abusing alcoholic parents, Gene and Izzy, dead in the house. Fearing foster care they bury them in the backyard. Their elderly next-door neighbor Lennie, a very lonely old man grieving the loss of his lover Joseph, suspects the girls are alone and befriends them. He basically takes them in and together they create a family of sorts, but it’s short-lived when the girls estranged grandfather comes into play seeking out his daughter who he doesn’t realize is buried in the garden believing instead she’s gone to Turkey with Gene. Things intensify even further when it transpires Gene owes Mike the local drug dealer a lot of money and is looking for Gene. Couple this with impending GSCE’s, puberty, dating and parent teacher conferences, the girls are up against the wall.
You are a screenwriter, this is your first novel. Can you tell us how writing a screenplay differs from writing a novel?
There is no difference. It’s just the medium that’s different and how you wish your voice to be heard or how you think your voice might be better heard. I love both mediums but found my stories where more effectively told in a novel.
The story in The Death of Bees revolves around two young sisters. Is this novel for young adults, or is it strictly adults only?
I think there is definitely a cross over but by a narrow margin.
Did you always want to be a writer. Can you tell us the genesis of your writing career?
I have been writing all my life, though I never took myself very seriously as a writer for a long time. I even chose a Publishing Degree as part of my University education to bring me closer to what I really wanted to do, which was to write. When I was at University I wrote for the University newspaper and I was the Arts Editor reviewing comedy and books and films. I just loved writing down my experiences. When I left University I worked as a copy editor in a freelance capacity and then I went to work in Publishing and PR. I hated it. It was mostly marketing. I wrote a screenplay in 1999 called The Wedding Gift and a friend guided me towards an organization called Moonstone which was run by the late John McGrath and at Moonstone I developed the script and entered it into a competition run by Pathe Films and Orange called The Orange Prize for New Screenwriters. Three winners were chosen and I was one of them. I was thrilled. From there on I was writing more seriously trying to get projects off the ground but I was mostly in development. I went to work in TV and I shadowed an Eastenders episode as part of their initiative to encourage new voices and with this experience I was able to get a job on Hollyoaks, a teen soap set in Liverpool. I never wrote for the big screen but the experiences I had in screenwriting versed me in dramatic expectation and first person narrative and I employ both when writing novels.
Do you see yourself continuing on in both screen and novel writing in the future?
If a production company wanted to make a movie out of the book I would be very interested in writing the screenplay or at least taking a stab at a first draft. I’ve also written a pilot for a TV show but that’s a personal project and I’m still plugging away at it.
In a conversation I read, it said that you were compared to Joe Orton. Do you mind being compared to someone?
I haven’t read Loot but I’ve been told to a 1000 times. I know Joe Orton to have been a wonderfully dark comedic playwright and I was obviously flattered at the comparison. I didn’t mind at all.
You are originally from Scotland and moved to the US in 2006. Is the move permanent?
I hope so. I love this country.
Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I come from a small island in Scotland where everyone knows everything about everyone and so I love the thought of things that are actually kept secret in a world like that. My next book CLOSED DOORS will focus on a big secret having repercussions for everyone who keeps it.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Being with my kids, reading, watching movies, catching up on my favorite TV shoes and writing.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Lisa, for the members here remember to keep checking the Discover Great New Writers section for Lisa’s feature coming soon.
Visit the author's website here
01-22-2013 10:05 AM
The Death of Bees is now featured in B&N.com's Discover Great New Writers section
check it out
01-22-2013 05:46 PM
The Death of Bees is on my to be read list! Thank you for the interview.
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
01-23-2013 09:16 AM