Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, Author Interview

I'm thrilled to have author Annabel Pitcher on Mundie Kids today to talk about her US release, My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece. Her debut was already released in her native country of England at the beginning of this year, and was released this week here in the US.

Congratulations on the rave reviews My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece has been receiving! What inspired you to write Jamie's story?
Thanks very much. I am so happy with the reviews! You never know how a book is going to be received, especially one with such difficult themes like My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. Strangely, I got the idea for the novel when I was in Ecuador during a round-the-worldtrip. One evening I found myself in the TV room of my youth hostel, searching for a DVD to watch as I didn’t have a lot to do. The only English or American film in the collection was United 93, a real-time re-enactment of events on board one of the hijacked planes on 9/11. Obviously it was harrowing stuff, and I went to bed thinking about how hard it must be to lose someone in a terrorist attack, and Jamie just sort of popped into my head. I could see this little boy and his cat and his sister’s ashes, which had ‘lived’ in an urn on the mantelpiece since her death in a terrorist bomb in London, and I just knew I had to write his story. I started the book that night.
I haven't yet had the privilege of reading your book, and I can't even begin to imagine all that young Jamie deals with in the story. What's something you came to admire about his character?
That’s a great question. There is so much to admire in Jamie – he’s bright, determined, creative – but I think I respect his loyalty the most. No matter how they treat him, Jamie is devoted to those he cares about: his grumpy, pink-haired sister; his drunken, grieving father; his absent mother, who has run off with another man... He never gives up hope that the people in his life will come up trumps.

You book sounds like a powerful read that will stay with readers long afterthey finish it. What message would you like your readers to take away from My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece?
To be honest, as a writer, I am not trying to give any message to the reader. I am simply trying to tell a good story. When someone finishes My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, all I hope is that they feel as if they have met an interesting set of characters, laughed a lot (because the book is darkly funny) and maybe shed a few tearsalong the way. That is more than enough for me.

In what ways has your book changed you as a person or author, since writing it?
Another great question! I’ve changed a huge amount since writing the book. Firstly, my working day is completely different. I used to work as anEnglish teacher in a busy school, but I am now a full-time author so I spend my time sitting at home in my study, playing with words and coming up with stories. Secondly, I feel a sense of relief to have realised one of my ambitions. I was a child who dreamed big, wanting to win Oscars or Olympic Finals. However, I wasn’t very good at acting or sport so I never managed to achieve those goals! Writing was the other thing I wanted to do, and it feels good to have something published. Thirdly and most importantly, I have realised that happiness comes from within. Though I do feel very proud to have a written a book, it has not brought the full-blown contentment that I expected. I think a lot of us areguilty of putting off our happiness, thinking we’ll allow ourselves to enjoy life when we graduate, find a partner, get married, change jobs, get a bigger house etc etc without realising that we already have what we need to feel satisfied. Publishing the book and realising it didn’t make my life miraculously wonderful (though it was pretty cool) has made me determined to enjoy each and every day, however ordinary they might seem. I still strive for goals, but I don’t wait to achieve them before I feel fulfilled. I try to enjoy the process rather than the end product.

As an author, do you have a favorite place to sit and write? What's one of your writing must haves? (music, etc)
Absolutely! My favourite place to work is in my beautiful study at home. It overlooks some fields at the back of my house (and usually a large herd of cows!) and I love sitting at the computer, typing away with my windows open and a nice breeze blowing in to keep me awake and focused. My only writing must-have is silence. Even in an empty house, I often wear earplugs to block out any tiny little noise there might be. I find music in particular a hugedistraction, which is a shame as I’d love to listen to my favourite tunes and work, but I just can’t concentrate!

Thank you Annabel for stopping by today!

About the Book:

Published by: Little Brown
Released on: 8/14/12

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.
Well, some of her does.
A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.
To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose's surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose's ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.
Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family's struggle to make sense of the loss that's torn them apart... and their discovery of what it means to stay together.

About the Author:
Follow Annabel via: her website | blogfacebook | twitter 

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~