Monday, 12 August 2013

Beneath an Irish Sky by Isabella Connor [Review + Interview]

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Choc Lit (7 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781890048
  • Jack Stewart thought he'd put the past behind him. On the surface, he has everything success, money, a big house and he is never short of an attractive woman by his side, but a tragic road accident shatters Jack's world. 

    Raised as an Irish Traveller, Luke Kiernan hasn't had it easy, and when he wakes in a Dublin hospital to find the man he's hated since childhood at his bedside, he's hungry for revenge.Two very different worlds collide, bringing new dangers, exposing past deceits, and unearthing dark family secrets buried long ago. But from tragedy springs the promise of a fresh start with two women who are intent on helping Jack and Luke mend their lives.

    Can new love heal old wounds, or are some scars there for good?
  • Cover:  I neither love or hate this cover.  
Firstly Isabella Connor is a pen name for Liv Thomas and Val Oltenau.  Normally I'm wary of co-written novels.  I often find them jarring or incohesive. 
That was not the case with this novel.  It flowed so well from the very first page, to the last.  The pacing was excellent- you're hooked from page one, and the mystery and drama is kept up throughout.
I loved Luke's character.  He really is a sweet guy, brought up in horrific circumstances, and all he wants is justice for his mother.
Jack is struggling with a grief for a wife he thought he hated but soon finds out there may have been different reasons for Annie leaving him than what he was led to believe.
I did have some issues in that the reason that Annie disappeared, while tragic, I do feel something would have been said.  I didn't find it 100% believable - if they were so much in love, I feel she would have said something.
Plus at the end, when all the family secrets are revealed- I wanted to see more of the results.  The fallout.  I wanted to see the bad guys get their just rewards.  So that left me wanting. 
Over all I thoroughly enjoyed this, and really liked the combination of the Irish Travelling community meeting the snobbery of English aristocracy. 
A little light on the romance for me, but definitely worth picking up.
4/5 stars.

Hi Erin, thank you for inviting us to be on your blog. ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’ has been a labour of love for five years, and we’re so excited to finally see it in print. We hope people enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.
-Liv and Val-

“Beneath an Irish Sky” by Isabella Connor
(pen-name of Val Olteanu and Liv Thomas)

Liv Thomas lives in England. Val Olteanu lives in Canada. They met on a Tolkien fan forum and decided to write a novel together. Despite living more than 4,000 miles apart (and with an 8-hour time difference), they succeeded in producing their debut novel, ‘Beneath an Irish Sky,’ which is now available as eBook and paperback. They write under the pen-name of Isabella Connor and are already deep into co-authoring their second novel.

1. Who came up with the initial idea for ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’?

Liv: I came up with the basic idea, but it developed rapidly once Val became involved, so much so that by the time we shared our ideas we ended up with a 240k word story, and then spent a year re-writing it because it was too long for any publisher – which we learned too late!

2. What was the hardest part of co-writing ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’?

Val: The hardest part was the time difference. I’m on the west coast of Canada and Liv is in England, so we’re eight hours apart. When I’m going to bed, she’s waking up. That meant phone calls during the week were out, and everything had to happen via e-mail, which took longer. I’m not dissing e-mail, though – if we’d been collaborating a hundred years ago, we’d have had to use snail mail and it would have taken us twenty years to co-write this novel!

3. How did you resolve any writing disputes?

Liv: Cyber arm-wrestling.  We would each voice our thoughts on whatever the issue was and try to convince the other. We had a few Mexican stand-offs but
generally if one of us was insistent, the other would recognize that they were probably right. I don’t recall any issues where neither of us would compromise. Eventually. 

4. What do you think people look for in a book?

Val: There are so many different kinds of people and so many different kinds of books that it’s really impossible to generalise. Sometimes I want to read something light and entertaining; other times I want to be challenged and encounter new ideas and have my view of the world shaken up a bit. I do think, though, that most people crave connection. We spend our lives isolated in our own heads, so it’s a wonderful thing when you meet a character in a novel who thinks the way you do or who has had a similar experience to your own. That’s particularly important for children and young people, whose sense of self and belonging can be very fragile.

5. Who is the dream cast for your novel?

Liv: When we started writing it we had very specific ideas. Jack was definitely Sean Bean, but Sean has probably outgrown him now! Jonas Armstrong is perfect for Matt, but Val and I will have to go to Ireland to search for Luke. He has to be exactly right. We’ve also got Charles Dance, Helen Mirren, and Julie Walters lined up.

6. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Val: Write the kind of book that you would like to read. Don’t try to be too clever – a scene pared down to essentials and characters displaying honest emotions will resonate with a reader more. Do your research about publishers – think of it as online dating – for a working relationship to be fruitful, you and your publisher will have to be on the same page (no pun intended!).

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