It tells of what happens to forty people on a remote island when strange events start occurring. A retired school-teacher visits and becomes obsessed with the disappearance of a local man in 1965, and his son, who mysteriously died of old age in 1975. It's a tale of self-discovery, delusions; of dreams or maybe even madness? I'll leave that to the reader to decide! It was sparked off by a series of so-called coincidences that happened to me and my husband when we moved to the Shetland islands in 2009.
Here's a snippet from a recent review: "...Feel as if I have been on some sort of mystical journey - wouldn't be surprised to see a DeLorean parked in my drive!"
What's your favourite part of the writing process?
Once the story is mapped out, and the first draft completed, I enjoy digging into the character interaction and writing dialogue, probably because I spend, and have spent many hours observing human nature (like any author does). Then I get into their psyche (having a Psychoanalyst for a husband has helped over the years - in more ways than one). I don't think I could've seriously started writing until I was older, having had more life experience.
How important is setting in your work?
In this story VERY important. It's based on Fetlar; a remote island in the Shetland Islands, and is packed with island history, mixed with Shetland folklore. I wanted to set it on Fetlar because of its remoteness and because its history has been somewhat neglected in past times. It's a strange place, in that most of the native islanders prefer not to discuss the past - so it was ripe for the picking!
How did your book change over successive drafts?
Enormously, it's as if the book has its own voice to some extent; a life of its own. Looking back over the seven drafts I'm amazed it's the same book. But I was once told by another writer: "Don't let it go out without being totally happy with it, or you'll regret it." So I delayed publishing by 6 months for fine tuning - I was glad I did.
How important is an online presence to a writer?
I live on a remote island so its very important to me! I don't really think you can be a successful author unless you do have this presence; even well established writers before the age of the internet couldn't deny the pull to reach the whole world through a machine in their house. But sometimes this 'inter-connectedness' scares me.
Any tips for aspiring writers?
If you have trouble writing, it's a really good idea to start small - flash fiction is where I cut my writing teeth as it were, small doses of fiction you can hone to perfection. This also helps improve your editing skills as you move on to larger works (I have thirteen 'paragraphs' published on Paragraph Planet). I started writing in weekly competitions : Flash Friday! (no longer operative), The Angry Hourglass or Microcosms - mini universes in 300 words or fewer - there are many out there to try including Paragraph Planet, all are free to enter.
Avalina's website can be found here.
Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website which has been publishing one 75-word paragraph every day since November 2008. Famous authors, aspiring writers and occasional dabblers have all got involved, submitting a mixture of twist-in-the-tale flash fiction, evocative short, short fiction, openings of published novels or brief moments captured. Get involved here. You can read over 1600 examples in the archive section. There are also interviews with some of the published authors who have submitted to the site, as well as an authors page in which you can read an example paragraph from all authors who've submitted, and also link to dedicated pages with more info about regular contributors. There's also a Blog Directory of authors who've contributed to the site.