Today I’m pleased to welcome Sheila O’Flanagan to the blog. Sheila is the best selling author of over 20 novels including The Missing Wife, If You Were Me, Things We Never Say and Bad Behaviour and her latest novel, What Happened That Night was published by Headline on 1 June 2017.
Sheila kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about What Happened That Night.
What Happened That Night is a big family story that focuses on the lives of Lola and her daughter Bey. When Lola was younger she made a decision to go it alone when she found herself pregnant instead of seeking the support of her daughter’s father. The decision she made then has long-term consequences both for her and for Bey. When Bey follows in her father’s footsteps and becomes a jewellery designer, past secrets come to light and Bey finds she has her own decisions to make….
2. What inspired the book?
Partly the idea that we make decisions with the best of intentions, but the outcomes might not always be what we expected. Also, I set the book in the world of ‘haute joaillerie’ – high-class jewellery. I was talking to a jeweller once about precious stones and it suddenly struck me that gems like diamonds were formed millions of years ago and they’ll still be around millions of years after we’ve gone. So every piece of jewellery we have is a piece of the earth’s history!
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’m a vague plan and then hope for the best sort of writer.
4. You have written a number of novels over the years, with many of them being bestsellers. Is there still anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
To be honest, that I actually finish it. There are always points during the writing of every book when I question myself and the writing and the plot. Every writer is gripped by anxiety throughout the process so when it finally comes together it’s a pleasant surprise.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I enjoy travelling and sport (as well as obviously reading a lot). I have a home in Spain and although I write there I also use it as a base for exploring the country and learning more about its culture. It was a trip to Cordoba that firmed up the concept of What Happened That Night because I learned a lot about silversmithing there – it’s famed for its silver jewellery. I also play competitive badminton for a local club which is a great way of forgetting plot problems because you don’t have time to think about your characters when you’re trying to win a match.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I can’t possibly answer that question – I think I’d end up editing or rewriting whatever book I was reading, even (or maybe especially) if it was a Booker prizewinner!
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I’ve never been asked what career I would have liked if I hadn’t been a writer. My previous career was in financial services but I would have loved to have been an astronaut. I would never have made it – I have asthma and although I liked science in school it wouldn’t have been one of my top subjects, but I’m fascinated by everything to do with space and the universe.
About the book:
Lola Fitzpatrick is bright and ambitious but she’s also headstrong and stubborn. When one evening, out of the blue, she has to make a life-changing choice, she decides quickly and rashly. And without a piece of vital information that might have changed everything.
Lola’s daughter Bey has inherited Lola’s determined nature. Yet her impulsive reactions place her in danger, leading her to run away from what she wants most. And then, one night, she’s standing in front of the man she loves, with her own choice to make…
For both Lola and Bey, everything changes in a moment. But their biggest mistakes might also turn out to be their greatest opportunities…
About the author:
Sheila O’Flanagan is the author of many bestselling novels including The Missing Wife, My Mother’s Secret, If You Were Me, All For You (winner of the Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award) and Bad Behaviour. She worked in finance for several years, but always dreamed of writing fiction, and she is now a full-time writer, with over twenty bestselling titles published. She lives in Dublin with her husband.