Mary Carey has had her first novel published by local publishers, Black Fountain Press, with the launch later last week at the Kulturfabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette and subsequent book readings and signings at the Ernster bookstore in the Cloche d’Or shopping centre on Friday and Saturday.
Mary Carey (Dubrule) was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in the Beaches neighbourhood on the shores of Lake Ontario. She is the seventh of eight children. In 1991, she moved to Luxembourg where she raised her four sons but considers both sides of the pond home. She was a journalist for years and has published hundreds of articles, as well as worked as a corporate writer for more than 15 years. In Luxembourg she started a writing group, where she co-edited and contributed to the anthology, Writing from a Small Country. Irresistible Blending is her first novel published by Black Fountain Press.
Chronicle.lu caught up with Mary and asked her about her publishing debut.
Chronicle.lu: Congratulations on having “Irresistible Blending” published. How does it feel to have your first book finished, published and in print?
MC: Last week was pretty much a dream to be honest. It is the fulfilment of years of writing and it offers my writing career more credibility. I allowed myself to really enjoy the week as completing a book is a lot of work and I have a full time job as PwC’s Media Relations and Editorial Senior Manager. But I am already thinking of my next project.
Chronicle.lu: Where did the title “Irresistible Blending” come from?
MC: There is a hidden meaning in the title. And I can tell you that we went through a couple of titles before we hit on this one. Anne-Marie Reuter, who cofounded Black Fountain Press, and with Jeffrey Palms (author of I'M HAVING A KNIPPCHEN, also published by Black Fountain and which just sold out in its first print run) did extensive editing work on my writing and helped inform the title. I am a big fan of titles that start to make sense as you read the book so, as this is a thriller, I don’t want to give it away.
Chronicle.lu: From where did you gain inspiration for “Irresistible Blending”?
MC: Irresistible Blending has been a long time coming. I originally dreamt the premise, or at least a very particular feeling of dread and a scene in the woods by a river. I woke up so excited I had to write the story. This was in 2004 or 2005 and it took a year. During this time I enrolled in a very good Creative Writing programme at Humber College in Canada . After this I completed the book and I did send a few manuscripts out and got nice feed-back from one publishing house but that was it and I was busy and I let it drop.
Chronicle.lu: Can you tell us a little about the storyline, for those who have not yet read it?
MC: Without giving too much away, the book is either/both a psychological thriller and/or a science fiction novel. The main character is an artist who lives in Vermont on a commune in the early 2000s. It has intersecting themes about art, the nature of humans and the nature of nature. I have always been a fan of really good science fiction that holds a mirror up to humanity, but it is also fair to say it is not entirely science fiction. Above all else, it is a mystery and I don’t want to plot spoil. I really hope people enjoy it and have a thrilling ride!
Chronicle.lu: In your writing process, did you start with the characters and then develop the storyline, or did you know your storyline first and then develop the characters around it?
MC: I had a very clear picture in my head of the main character. I really felt I knew her, but if you read the book you will quickly find there is very little similarity between Eleanor in myself. I am a pretty jolly social animal and she is certainly not. I also knew what the ending was going to be pretty much before I laid out the story line. The rest was like sculpting. Some chapters poured out of me in one go. Some took multiple rewrites.
Chronicle.lu: Staying with the writing process, did you know the ending before you “put pen to paper”?
MC: Yes (see above).
Chronicle.lu: Are any of your characters based on people you know? Would people who know you be able to identify themselves or others from some of the characters in “Irresistible Blending”?
MC: Yes, I cannot lie. I based a couple of characters on people I know with particular character traits. But for the most part they are completely fictional. My favourite character is Peter Eckelbert. Writing him was pure joy.
Chronicle.lu: When did the idea of writing a novel come to you, and how long did the entire process take?
MC: It took me a full year to write the book. Then I went to Humber College and did a one year course going over the book. And it took two years to edit working with external editors. Writing a book is not easy (not for me anyway), it is a passion and it is hard work. As you get closer to the finish line and you realise you baby will not belong to you anymore once you give it to the world, that it will be scrutinised, criticised but hopefully loved, the editing eyes get a lot sharper and you become acutely aware that there is an audience out there.
Chronicle.lu: Did you have a publisher lined up before you started writing or did you have the book written before you started to look for a publisher?
MC: No. I wrote it because the story was in me and it needed to come out. I have been writing professionally and personally for years and it is my true ambition.
Chronicle.lu: Do you have plans for a follow-up novel?
MC: I have a book tentatively called Talking Tours that is loosely based on a bus tour guide who was a friend of mine who went all over Europe acting as a guide and his slow descent into hell until he is finally broken by a customer named Myriam. It’s a comedy. I also was prompted during a conversation with our CEO about an idea on immigration, climate change and the future. I doubt it will be so funny.
Chronicle.lu: Thank you, Mary!
Irresistible Blending is available from Ernster bookstores in Luxembourg. For further details, see https://www.blackfountain.lu/books/irresistible-blending