Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Getting to know ... Joan Fallon

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
This is always a problem for me when I have finished a new book.  How do I classify it?  My novels do not fit easily into a prescribed classification - I like to consider them literary fiction, but this is such a vague term.  I even researched ‘literary fiction’ on the internet and it became clear that the meaning depends on the writer’s point of view as to what constitutes ‘literary’.  With some of my books it is clearer and I can pop them straight into the historical fiction category - although that too has restrictions.  What exactly is historical fiction?  My novel THE ONLY BLUE DOOR set in the 1940s is acceptable but THE HOUSE ON THE BEACH set in Spain during the Franco years is probably too recent.  The one thing that is consistent about my work is that they are books featuring strong, capable women. 

What made you choose that genre?
I have always been a bit of a champion for women’s rights, so like to write about women and how they cope with what life throws at them.  I studied history at college and later at university and have always been drawn to social history, so enjoy putting my female characters into a historical setting.

How long does it take you to write a book?
On average about six months. My latest novel THE SHINING CITY took a year to write, from research to final editing.  This was because I was writing about a period in Spanish history that I knew nothing about and had to do a tremendous amount of research.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I try to start work at 10 am and work through to 2 pm five days a week.  Sometimes if things are going really well I will write for a couple of hours in the evening as well.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Ideas come from various places - a news item, something I’ve read that sparks off a train of thought that leads to a story.  Sometimes someone will tell me about something that has happened and I can see it as a new story.  I wrote SANTIAGO TALES because we had spent a number of holidays in Galicia and one year we were in Santiago de Compostela in Holy Year and saw all the pilgrims.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I didn’t start writing until after I had retired.  This was in 2007, after I had finished doing a Creative Writing Course with the Open University.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well, I’m married and have a family that I like to spend time with.  I also have two dogs which need constant attention and I play golf.  On a less active side, I watch a lot of films and read all the time.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
It was something that I learned from the Creative Writing Course - that writing is as much a craft as it is inspiration.  When you realise this you can tackle your writing in a much more practical way.

How many books have you written?
I have written one book of non-fiction and eight novels.  Three novels are still to be published.

Which is your favourite and why?
While I am writing a novel that is my favourite one but I suppose, in answer to your question, I would say SPANISH LAVENDER.  It is set in the Spanish Civil War, here in Málaga.  My father came over from Ireland to fight with the International Brigade and although he told me very little about what happened back then, I feel a connection to the events of that time.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a journalist.

What are you working on now?
I am just publishing my latest book, THE SHINING CITY, a historical novel set in 10th century Spain, in Madinat al-Zahra, just outside Córdoba.  For once the action is evenly distributed between the sexes - Omar, a young and talented potter falls in love with Jawhara, a slave girl who becomes the favourite concubine of the Caliph.

Joan Fallon was born in Scotland, but spent most of her formative life in the south of England.  After a brief spell working in industry, she became a teacher and later a management consultant specialising in Behavioural Studies. She moved to the south of Spain in 1997 and began writing full-time. Since living in Spain she has become very interested in the country and its culture and this is reflected in her books.


Connect with Joan Fallon:

Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

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