Sunday, October 9, 2011

Meet Dr. Niamh Clune, author of Orange Petals in a Storm

In a time where our youth are bombarded with stories on the news of violence and heartbreak, oftentimes we turn to Disney to go back to the fairytales of old. I have had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Niamh Clune, author of Orange Petals in a Storm, a story of hope and triumph and what could easily become a modern-day fairytale for all ages for many years to come.

Collette: Thank you so much for joining me today, Niamh. I’m excited to learn more about Orange Petals in a Storm. May we start with the basics? When did you start writing?

Niamh: I began writing at the age of twelve...the age when you are crossing the threshold of childhood into the scary, wonderful world of being a teen. Somehow, at that age, you become acutely aware of your emerging identity. You are leaving something precious behind, but looking forward to all that is yet to come. I wrote a series of very dark poems expressing the intensity of how I felt then. I was a very serious little girl, traumatised by my childhood. I found solace in writing and creating an alternative, beautiful reality in which to live. It was a way of escaping my family and finding my own voice.

Collette: Oh yes. It is a rough time, isn’t it? Now did you have any influences behind your writing?
Niamh: By the time I was fourteen, I had read many of the classics. I loved Jean Paul Sartre and philosophical literature and of course fantasy of the quality of Lord of the Rings. And I have always loved Jane Austin. I love her slow-moving, understated style. I think I am largely influenced by her, and by the way she tells a story through the dead weight of the unspoken word, by what is not said, but imagined, expressed through the pause, silence, space between words. I was also hugely influenced by Anglo-Irish literature, and metaphysical poets such as W.B Yeats and T.S. Eliot. I loved the musicality of the way they wrote and the spiritual subject matter. Writing is meant to be read aloud. A story should sing itself into existence.

Collette: Lyrical is so appropriate! Where do you get your ideas?
Niamh: All my ideas are drawn from life experiences. I have led a rich, full life filled with wonderful adventures both inner and outer. Most of my working life has been concerned with the Psyche and how it works, so my inner world stories are based on visionary experiences both my own and people I have worked with. In my capacity as a Doctor of Transpersonal Psychology, I have even been blessed to participate in the inner world of other cultures during my time working in Africa.

Collette: A wonderful experience, I’m sure J. What is your writing process?
Niamh: I edit as I go along. A sentence must do exactly what it is supposed to before I move on. Otherwise it disturbs me. I love aphorism: simple, pithy sentences that express complex ideas. I am a lover of minimalism in the written word and labour over my task. It is a labour of love to knead a sentence, working it into shape until it forms the image I am trying to convey. 

Collette: Do you write full-time?
Niamh: I do now... I still see clients and run workshops but keep it to a minimum.

Collette: How did you come up with the idea of Orange Petals in a Storm?
Niamh: I needed a metaphor that would convey something delicate and beautiful being blown about by the harshness of Skyla's mundane reality. She represents the soul, the beauty and light that is within us. The story speaks on many levels at once. As in the traditions of metaphysical literature, I used the colour Orange as an extended metaphor to convey paradox and juxtaposition... It represents the mystical being ever present amidst the despair of mundane conveys a world rich in paradox...where suffering is coexistent with the triumph of the human spirit against all the odds. Hopefully, a few people will 'get that!' The image emerged as the story unfolded.

Collette: How long did it take you to complete?
Niamh: To write Parts One and Two has taken two years...

Collette: This is a story with a strong message: a girl who finds her inner strength to remove herself from a bad situation by using her brain. Can you tell us a little bit about your research behind her dream world?
Niamh: As I said, I have been a practising transpersonal psychologist for more than 30 years. By that I mean Jungian based psychology that recognises the meaning and importance of the dream. It is the only psychology to recognise the existence of the soul. I have also been a scholar of the Ancient Wisdom Teachings all my life. My Ph.D was on Acquiring Wisdom Through the Imagination in which I completed a unique piece of research and 'showed' how inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul breaks through into people's lives and stories! When it does, we find ourselves living an archetype.

Collette: Can you tell us a little about the Threads of Prophecy?
Niamh: The Threads of Prophecy are a mixture of things based on the ancient esoteric belief in an underlying etheric web that connects all life, and through which, we are all part of a collective unconscious. In the world of the unconscious, time is an illusion, therefore; having prophetic experience becomes possible. We can meet the future, based on the seeds of the past.

Collette: Can you describe young Skyla McFee in a few sentences? What is she like? What does she want? Goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Niamh: She represents the soul in us, the purity, beauty and innate wisdom; the potential to see the world in a transformational way; the desire to triumph over despair. In my experience both personally and as a therapist, the child is so often thwarted, mishandled by the adult world. Then the immediacy, intensity, curiosity, and marvel at the world about us becomes sublimated and submerged. I am of that age when I wanted to touch in with her again.

Collette: Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
Niamh: All my characters are based on aspects of people I have known. I think it dangerous to write a character too literally, as you are in danger of losing the objectivity necessary to allow your characters to develop minds and wills of their own. I always isolate and accentuate a characteristic in order to bring a new, unique character to life.

Collette: I agree completely! Some people incorporate themselves into their characters. Is that something you do?
Niamh: I am in several of the characters, Skyla, Rocks and Ariana. I think most writers appear in elements of some of their characters. I call them sub-personalities.

Collette: Are you still writing the series? If so, what will your future projects entail?
Niamh: I am editing Part two and beginning a new project.

Collette: Excellent. Can’t wait for it to come out! With all that writing, do you have time to read?
Niamh: I don't have time to read these days. And when I am writing, I find it difficult to read. I don't like being swayed. I stay focussed on what I am doing.

Collette: Understood J. When you do have time, what is your favorite genre to read?
Niamh: Goes in phases. I always enjoy well-written prose, no matter what the genre.

Where can we find you online?




What format is your book available in?
Available as a kindle and to be released on November 4th in paperback in USA

Excellent! Congratulations! Niamh, thank you so much for joining me today. I had so much fun learning more about your series and the thought process behind it. Skyla is a remarkable young lady, bound to grow into a strong and confident woman. I can’t wait to see her progress.

My review of Orange Petals in a Storm:  
When you open this book, you find a child in dire straits. She is running in the rain, back to her beloved former home, only to succumb to the cold before reaching freedom. Young Skyla McFee is trapped in a situation that no child should ever endure, that of a cold family who cares little for her following the death of her mother. However Skyla is a survivor, and she soon learns that she has a gift. What the horrible Roche family views as her escaping reality and turning to her imagination is actually Skyla learning that she is a powerful and gifted girl with the ability to ease the pain in others, including the child who once bullied her.

This is not an action-packed, fast-paced story, where every scene follows one after another like a bullet from a gun. Rather it is a soft story, full of mysticism and guidance - a modern-day fairytale for our youth. I almost had the feeling that the characters in her dream world were whispering the entire time. This story would be perfect for reading aloud, with just enough fantasy in it to hold a child captive. It is a touching and poetically written story with a strong and hopeful message. Evil will never triumph over good. Skyla does not succumb to despair, and her optimism is rewarded. It ends on a glimmer of hope, and I’m sure in book two we will see her become even stronger and more powerful!

I have a daughter, and I could very easily see myself passing it on to her to read. Not only for the lovely fantasy weaved into it, but also for the message of never giving in or giving up and standing tall for what you believe in. I think we may read this together soon!


Chris Thrall said...

Another great interview, Collette. W.B Yeats and T.S. Eliot at 14 - yet again I feel inadequate! Niamh's book is on my list and I look forward to reading it!

Reagan said...

A great interview with an unusually talented writer. With Niamh you get raw intellect balanced with a great understanding of what it takes to be good at this art.

Dr. Niamh Clune said...

Thank You Guys...feeling really happy to have a chance to do this. And thank you, Collette!

Collette said...

Thank you all for stopping in. It was certainly a treat to feature Niamh. She has a great story to tell, and I thoroughly enjoyed putting her on my blog :D.

JLB Creatives said...

What a lovely interview! I have Orange Petals in a Storm on my ereader - but like you...trying to find the time to read is just not happening at this time in my life. But I will tell you I can't wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

I have to admit after reading this interview along with the review that I'm even more star struck by Niamh. You have a fan for life. =)

Daniel L Carter
Author of The G-6 Chronicles

Lorhainne Eckhart said...

Well I was intrigued before. Now after reading this and your review, I can't wait to read your book.

Betty Dravis said...

Like Chris Thrall said above, I feel inadequate after learning more about the extremely talented Niamh Clune! How does one converse with such an intellectual?

But she and I have managed to do just that and have formed a special bond...even before I read her marvelous book. Thanks for being my special friend, Niamh. You rock...for a psychologist! Teasing... :-)

And WOW, Collette, You are pretty marvie yourself! You captured this fine author and her book to perfection. Awesome interview and book review.

Thanks for enlarging Niamh to us all...and thus enhancing our experience of her and her brilliant works.

Hugs - Betty Dravis
Author of DREAM REACHERS series and three novels