Author Interview – Pauline Toohey

If your reading taste includes Historical novels set in Ireland filled with love and battles and marvelous characters – this interview with author, Pauline Toohey, will be of interest.Cover_Pull_of_the_yew_tree_

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? A typical Aries, loud and bossy, energetic and out-there, but with an Achilles heel when it comes to being a mum. My weaknesses include Cadbury chocolate, fresh prawns, and a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and if I’m to continue these indulgences, my Asics will continue to carry me on a 5 km run every day. I love love, and hate hate, Today, I’m an editor with my own business. Yesterday I was in law enforcement. Tomorrow … well I’m twirling the ends of my hair wondering what the next chapter of life will bring.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? During my childhood I planned to be a teacher, a police officer, a hairdresser, a model, a rock star, an author and an Olympian. And not necessarily in that order. But I soon discovered that to chase every dream, plus the additional two hundred that later followed, was a big ask. The ‘author’ took a back seat as I conquered a few dreams, but I remained an audience member, reading various styles and genres, and unconsciously learning, noting what I thought worked, and tossing what didn’t sit with me. So in practical terms, I’m comparatively new to writing. Five years in fact. And I began when it was time to ‘try on’ another dream.

What is the last book you read? I talk only of the books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. There are many, but in not swaying from your question, my answer is ‘The Thorn Birds’ by a fellow Australian, Colleen McCullogh. An oldie, but a goodie.

Which writers inspire you? Bernard Cornwell for his simplicity. Sharon Penman for her characterization. Billy Shakespeare for his sheer poeticism and brilliance. My mum for the deeply beautiful and personal messages she writes on all my birthday cards.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Pull of the Yew Tree”? I didn’t ‘get’ the idea. I think it found me. I don’t plot or storyboard. I sit and type and watch what falls onto the page and then follow where it may lead. Pull of the Yew Tree started essentially as a love story, but grew wings and flew to other genres as the characters came alive and demanded some POV and a shining moment. But the setting was a deliberate choice. I thoroughly enjoy the period of England’s War of the Roses, and with so much already written about the known historical occurrences at that time and in that country, I moved a little west, sailed across the sea, and landed on the shores of Ireland.

Can you tell us something about the story? And spoil things? Not a chance. What I will tell you is this. It’s set in 15th century Ireland, with love and death, and fierce battles, and much hate stewing amongst the native clans and noblemen. I wanted to produce, via a literary piece, characters who would make my reader laugh and cry and gasp. I hope I’ve achieved my aim.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it?  I suspect Pull of the Yew Tree will be on shelves close to the works of Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, and Sharon Penman.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? Always. The sequel to Pull of the Yew Tree is complete, and awaits publication along with a contemporary crime series, based on my twenty-five years as a police officer. Yes, that’s one dream I achieved. But my mind is straying to a new project, something set in the late 1800s in my hometown. Stay tuned.

Where can people go to read your work? POTYT, as my publisher likes to call it, will be released in paperback on the 1st of May, and can be found on most well-known online bookstores. We have some interest from ‘ye olde fashion’ book stores, but they are yet to be announced. E-versions will soon follow.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Write, write, and write some more. Listen to all opinions. Read great works, not good works. And know that the editing process never ends.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? Moreover, reviews are personal opinions. I love cheesecake. Some people hate it. Who’s to say which opinion is the correct one? This question helps thicken the skin when detractors become loud.