Isobel Blackthorn is the author of the novels, The Cabin Sessions, Asylum, A Perfect Square and The Drago Tree, and the short story collection, All Because of You. She holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands. She has worked as a high school teacher, market trader and PA to a literary agent. Her writing has appeared in Backhand Stories, Fictive Dream, The Mused Literary Review, On Line Opinion and Paranoia Magazine. Her comedy horror novel The Legacy of Old Gran Parks will be released in April 2018, along with La Mareta, the sequel to The Drago Tree, a mystery/crime novel.
Please help me welcome Isobel Blackthorn to Roadie Notes……..
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I was eleven years old and in the last year of primary school. I was living in a small country town south of Adelaide in South Australia. The year was 1973. The town, Coonalpyn, was on the highway and had three roadhouses. My folks owned the downbeat roadhouse at the end. We had a juke box, a pin ball machine and a pool table and we had the keys to all three. I had a ball! I used to walk across the railway tracks to school, which was tiny. One day, the teacher set the class a homework task. We had to write a story in the form of a booklet. I never forget writing that story although I have no idea what it was about. The teacher said it had to be illustrated. I slaved away for days and days. I was so proud. But when the teacher handed back the homework, I only got a B. The girl who got an A wrote a twee story about her horse and her booklet had loads of brightly coloured drawings and the neatest handwriting you’ve ever seen. I was gutted. I knew I could never produce what she had made. Mine was scruffy by comparison. My writing spidery. It occurred to me even then though, that the marks shouldn’t have been based on presentation. It was the story itself that mattered, and I thought mine was original.
2. How many books have you written?
So far, I have written six novels. Four are published, with another two coming out this year. My Australian publisher, Odyssey Books, released the first three, then HellBound Books picked up The Cabin Sessions, which came out last October. It’s a dark psychological thriller, and the menace leaps at you from the first page. I poured my all into that book. I was up at four in the morning writing parts of it. For me, the story was challenging to write because I put twelve characters in one room and whatever was happening, I had to think about how all of those twelve would be reacting. To make it easier, I made them all very different from each other. They are all fairly grotesque too, which helps.
I am realizing I have a real passion for writing dark fiction. I’d say I am more on the gothic side of the horror spectrum, but that said, I do like to experiment.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
In terms of genres, I can’t see myself in science fiction, fantasy, romance or westerns. In terms of topics, I will tackle the tough stuff. I am not interested in writing about family custody battles because I have lived through one and I would never want to re-live that part of my life. That is definitely an area I steer clear of. I don’t want to scare myself stupid so I can’t see myself writing creature horror, and I know nothing about the military so I doubt I’ll be going down that path. Writing for me is all about what I’m drawn to. What fascinates me enough to sustain my interest for a book length work.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
I am fifty-six years old, married twice and divorced twice. I have twin girls and they are twenty-six. I Skype tutor English and study skills to earn a crust. I move house a fair bit too as I enjoy renovating and home makeovers. I am happy living alone. Nothing to interrupt me. I am well suited to the solitary life of the writer. I could disappear altogether from the world very easily. I try to locate myself close to the action, for I fear I’ll grow too weird otherwise. I like to have shops and facilities close, but I don’t leave the house much. Writing novels is a serious enterprise for me. I have waited my whole life for this moment and I am so driven!
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
I love all my book babies, and I am having to tell them to cover their ears just now, but I will confess my next release with HellBound Books, The Legacy of Old Gran Parks, is my current favourite. That’s because the story makes me laugh and laugh. It is comedy horror, at least, that’s the way I see it, and I have been very playful with the characters. Once I had created them, they took over and the book wrote itself. The story flowed and flowed. How can I not love a book that was so easy to birth!
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
My inspiration comes from deep within. It is a compulsion, an obsession, a vocation. I started taking my writer self seriously in 2007, when I got a job as personal assistant to a high-profile literary agent. She took interest in my ideas and encouraged me to write. Every week she inquired after my progress. Then I was lucky to gain the mentorship of an award-winning author. He taught me how to write creatively. After that, I gleaned what I could online and set to. I had a lot of support from family and friends. My girls were 18 by then and had both left home, so writing filled a pretty big hole in my live too.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to chat with friends over coffee or lunch, walk to the beach, read, and write book reviews, dream about faraway places and plot my trips overseas. I watch British crime dramas on telly and cuddle my cat.
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
Start on the next one. Always. Once, early on in my writing journey, I finished working on a manuscript and I had nothing lined up. I fell into a horrible depression. It was indescribably bad. I vowed never to let that happen again. So, I line the next one up in advance.
9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I always write in silence and I always write with pen and paper. I sit in the same seat on my couch and I cannot compose anywhere else.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
I am changing my writing all the time. I like to experiment. Sometimes I think I would like to go back and re-write bits in one of my earlier books. Only because times have changed and I would like to do an update. All I can do is aim to be the best writer I capable of being and hope that what I write readers enjoy.
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
My dream is all about progress. I don’t want to think I am standing still. I’m not sure about fame, as that can come with a lot of pressure, but I would love my books to reach more readers and I welcome any recognition that might come my way. My dream is a humble one. I would like to earn a living off what I do, a modest living, but one that would mean I could let go of earning an income in other ways. Living in Australia, that is not so much a dream as a fantasy, as very few authors make much from their writing here. We are a small market, miniscule, and there are a lot of very talented writers here.
12. Where do you live?
I live on the southern coast of Australia, about three-hundred miles west of Melbourne. The town is called Warrnambool and it is famous for Southern Right whale watching, and ship wrecks. The ocean around these parts is treacherous. I live here for the cool climate and the fresh ocean air.
I have one cat. She is little, white and very timid and I call her Miss Psyche. She is my best friend. When I lie on the couch watching telly, she spoons.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I enjoy every stage of writing a novel. I find incubating the story thrilling. The first draft is an edgy experience and I always have a sense of needing to race to the finish. Once I have a basic draft I relax. I adore editing. I love giving my work shape and improving as I go along.
15. What is coming next for you?
I am at work on an erotic romance-horror-thriller novel and a gothic thriller of the haunted house variety. The first I am busy editing and fleshing out, the second I have researched and so far, I have written about two pages. I am very excited about both stories.
16. Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas arrive in my mind like pings. My imagination is a riot. I see potential everywhere. In everyone I meet. In every new situation. My problem is containing it all and figuring out which of my book ideas I should focus on next. That part of my writing process is hard to control. It is unpredictable. I have managed to pin down 2018 as regards my projects but that’s about it. I have another six novels in the pipeline at various stages of development. I feel like a factory.
You can connect with Isobel Blackthorn here:
Some of Isobel Blackthorn’s books: