Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Q&A With Tamasine Loves || Remhurst Manor Book Tour

It's my turn on the book tour for Tamasine Love's novel, Remhurst Manor. I'm hosting a Q&A with Tamasine, so grab a cuppa and settle in for a great read. I'm also holding a giveaway to win a copy of Tamasine's new novel; details at the end of this post! 

1. Is it true that you started writing the book in your teens? How did that come about?

I did – I was thirteen, I finished the first draft just in time for my fifteen birthday. As for the ‘how’, well, uh … to tell you that, I’ve got to tell you about how I spent five hours locked inside my school’s toilet block.

Without exaggerating and being overly-dramatic, I’ll just say that I was basically Tom Hanks in Castaway but, you know, a thirteen-year-old girl, and my island was a bathroom at an all-girl’s high school. Oh, and, rather than a Volleyball for a companion, I had toilet toll as note paper … plus, it wasn’t a storm that got me stuck on an island, but rather some relationally-aggressive preteen girls. To avoid these bullies, I’d used a bathroom on a floor of the school that was being renovated and so was out-of-bounds. They’d found me anyway, and iptso-facto, I spent five hours locked inside a humid school toilet block.

Note: all this happened before I had a mobile phone and so unfortunately the simple resolution (see below) was out of the question.

Alas - because this happened in the 'olden days', it wasn’t an SOS via Facebook status that saved me. It was a very confused cleaner, who found me long after school was done for the day.

I didn’t write the whole time I was locked inside the bathroom. I spent a good amount of time feeling sorry for myself and even managed to squeeze in a short nap but, at some point, I worked out a way to make it so that the biro I’d fished out of my pocket didn’t puncture the toilet tissue I’d commissioned as notepaper.

Cross-legged, on top of a closed toilet lid, I wrote.

The opening line of my novel’s prologue is still word-for-word the first sentence I wrote onto that square of toilet tissue, nine years ago.

2.         What do you like most about your main character, Laine Brimble?

She takes things in her stride. If there is a setback, she nods at it and just deals. She waits until the dust has settled to consider what went wrong and why; she’s not the sort of person to run in circles shouting ‘fire, fire!’, she’s the person heading for the bucket of water. I think that having the ability to calmly deal with what’s in front of you instead of being overwhelmed by the entirety of a crisis is an admirable and invaluable skill that lots of people have, and goes too-often unnoticed.

Laine deals with the ‘here and now’ surprisingly well for someone whose ‘here and now’ is so changeable. She’s incredibly affected by the past and future – and I don’t just mean because she’s got the whole parallel life in the 19th century thing going on.

Like a lot of us, Laine’s family history and reputation follows her, which is doubly difficult when you grow up in a small town like Laine did. Plus – the future is always hanging over her head; the boy she’s falling for, David, is going to move back home to England at some point. Laine and David’s relationship has a sort-of expiry date on it. That’d suck…but I guess it doesn’t suck as much as the literal expiry date on Laine’s relationship with Leopold – the ‘love-of-her-other-life’. Leopold is from the 19th century, so a slight age difference … plus he’s dead, which kind of puts a strain on the relationship.

At least Laine knows she and David can always Skype.

3.         Which is your favourite minor character, and why?

Evan. He is in so many ways my favourite. The scenes with Laine’s friendship group and their interactions were the most fun to write. And Evan, out of all Laine’s friends, has my favourite personality.

Evan says, ‘what you see is what you get’, and truly believes that about himself … but he only believes it because he underestimates himself. He is the ‘class clown’ and always has been. He plays up to that, and I think sometimes uses it as an excuse not to take himself or his feelings seriously. But, I think it’s often clear that he is quite considerate and a critical-thinker. For instance, he seems to want to wrap his sister up in cotton wool, but at the same time you can see he is conscious of being the older brother archetype and doesn’t want to condescend her. Sure, he still kicks the snot out of a guy for his behaviour towards his little sister and we all know that’s caveman-ish and you should always use your words.

But … Evan’s only human, and besides…

 The other guy totally started it.

4. Let’s imagine that Laine is at the bookstore. Which section would she head for? What books would she buy?

Laine’s got a list in her room – somewhere… it’s definitely somewhere. Wait - it’s okay, she knows where everything is – no, don’t touch that, no, don’t try and help clean it up – there’s order to it – and … what do you mean, is that sock is supposed to be on that lampshade? Of course it’s deliberate. Feng shui, okay?

So, she has a list, but she doesn’t have it with her at the store because, well, she either; 

a) forgot it
b) didn’t know she’d end up visiting a bookshop that day and so didn’t take it with her when she left the house.

When she’s in the bookshop she won’t be able to remember anything that was on the list, even though she’s been compiling it for months. She buys books anyway, because … books, right?

In the end, Laine’s receipt will look like this …

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Laine doesn’t normally read graphic novels, but this was recommended to her by Mitch, her best friend. She borrowed part 1 from him, finished that, and decided she’d wait and purchase both parts 1 and 2 (and the DVD…if she gets more shifts working at the corner shop so she can save up, that is). She highly recommends anyone and everyone read/see this masterful delivery of a touching, funny, and eye-opening coming-of-age narrative of a young Marjane Satrapi.

Looking for Alibrandi, by Marlene Marchetta

A classic for just about any Australian teen. Laine saw the movie on daytime TV a few months earlier and it reminded her that she had to read the book again. This book was the first ‘grown up young adult’ novel that Laine read, and is still one of her favourites.

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

This has been on Laine’s list of to-read novels for years. She studied Jane Eyre for literature in year 9 at her old boarding school, and loved it. Her literature teacher recommended she read Rebecca after Jane Eyre. Laine’s not sure why, yet … though, when she flicked through it at a library a while back, she saw the first and last lines, and it went straight on the top of her to-buy, as well as to-read. See:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.’ / ‘And the ashes blew towards us with the salt and sand from the sea.’
Is it just Laine, or are those not some of the loveliest opening and closing lines of any book, ever?

Liar, by Justine Larbalestier

This was one of the first books Laine ever pre-ordered. She’s not even going to explain, if you like YA, she’s going to insist you just read it. In fact, you don’t even need to ‘like’ YA. Just, if you like good books – fantasy, mystery, contemporary, suspense, romance … read it.

The Bat, by Jo Nesbo

This one is for Laine’s grandma. Her Grandma started watching the Kenneth Branagh version of Wallander a few months back and hasn’t stopped talking about it. Laine had a period where she only read Scandinavian crime fiction following her first reading of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Out of the authors she read, Jo Nesbo, wrote her favourite character in them all – Harry Hole, who also happens to be just the kinda character her Grandma gets all giddy for; a grouchy, alcoholic, unorthodox, brilliant, badass detective.

5. Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?

The whole novel is far more optimistic than I thought it would be. I don't think this is to do with me being a particularly cynical teenager or wishing the worst for my characters. It’s more to do with me growing up and writing and re-writing this book as I did so. Now, I have experienced things that have reassured and shown me that people, almost always, are really, actually, trying their best to make things okay. It's just that not everyone's idea of "what's best" is the same.

Also, Remhurst Manor is set in Australia now and I live in the U.K. When I wrote it, I lived in Australia and it was originally set in the U.K!

6. If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?

This was so much fun to compile. I couldn’t pick, so I narrowed it down by trying to choose Australians, with the one exception of this heavenly being:

Rachel Hurd Wood for Laine.

A close second to Rachel Hurd Wood for Laine would be Xenia Goodwin.

Jacki Weaver would be Laine’s sassy nanny
Lucas Pittaway - Evan
Ben Mendelsohn - Harrison
Alicia Banit - Imogen
Dena Kaplan - Jacinta
Adelaide Clemens - Audrey
Geraldine Hakewill- Jacinta
Angus McLaren- Elijah
Cleo Massey - Sabrina
Jai Courtney - Leo
Kodi Smith McPhee - David

7. Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story

I worked with an incredible illustrator called Ren to create the cover for Remhurst Manor.  She created a feminine, yet edgy image that touches on the 19th century aspect of the novel. The design is also influenced by the Haruli Murakami books.

8. Please share a few favourite lines or one paragraph from the book.

I wasn’t sure what to share because it’s split into two parallel storylines and I wasn’t sure which to pick from. The prologue is neutral and one of my favourite bits, so I played it safe and picked a piece from that.
 It is a  myth  that  lightning  never  strikes  the  same  place  twice.  Much like lightning, history has a way of repeating itself one way or another. Both lightning and history favour certain times and places in accord with certain lures. In lightning’s case, a metal rod and bad weather do the trick. History, yet, is trickier.
What does history need to repeat? Deja vu and anything ever present.
I know this to be true because I have seen the evidence.
I am the evidence.

9. Is there an underlying theme in your book? If so, tell us about it and why/if it’s important to you.

This is absolutely a love story, and I'm not embarrassed about that at all – despite the number of times I’ve told someone I wrote a book and their first response is dripping with sarcasm, ‘oh, is it a fantasy … is there a love story in it?’

But, the boy-meets-girl love story isn't the love I think is most important in Remhurst Manor’s narrative (although there is the boy-meets-girl between Laine and David, and in the past narrative, too). There is love between all the characters.

Love is the driving motivation for all of the characters - often in contradiction to their rational selves.  Laine, in particular, must learn to negotiate between her head and her heart.  She must decide whether to be more emotionally driven in her decisions, or logically driven. This is especially difficult for her because she can’t completely trust the things she feels. She struggles with the validity of a lot of her emotional responses. That same struggle, I think, is incredibly important when you’re growing up – and definitely something I faced, and still face, daily. It’s very hard (and admirable) to acknowledge and explore ‘why’ you feel a way that you don’t logically ‘approve’ of.

Understanding that feelings aren’t always the truth – but that doesn’t mean you should immediately ignore them – is particularly poignant, I feel, in your younger years. What young person hasn’t been told they’re just ‘moody’ or ‘hormonal’? Those kinds of accusations are dismissive and devalue your experiences. Moving into the future, dismissing your emotions can lead to other issues with how you interact with the world around you.

Negotiating and acknowledging, but not being overwhelmed by, your emotional responses, is an important life lesson – and the struggle to learn to do so is definitely a thematic element in Remhurst Manor.

10. The YA market is huge. What makes your book stand out from the rest?

When I wrote Remhurst Manor, I just wanted to contribute to the patchwork tapestry of YA books that I adore, that, as I grew up, kept me warm, fascinated, informed, provoked, and continue to guide me today. I wanted to give back. However, as I wrote, I also wanted to include something I’d not yet encountered in my reading. I think that Remhurst Manor shows a different side of growing up in Australia than offered elsewhere, so far, in YA.

Something I noticed when speaking to people who haven’t visited Australia is a common tendency to underestimate just how vast and varying the Australian landscape is. These people probably haven’t read Australian books and don’t understand that you can be somewhere that’s 40 degrees Celsius and covered in dry dirt, but then you drive for a day or so and end up somewhere that’s raining and freezing – but you’re still in the same country. There are also a lot of stereotypes about the way Aussies talk and act.

Australia has no shortage of incredible authors who’ve written incredible novels. There’s a generous offering of perspectives on being young in Australia out there – fantastical, futuristic, realistic, historical. There’s an even more generous offering of settings to pick from.

As far as I know (and I could be wrong, I haven’t read everything), there’s not any YA books set in the same spot as Remhurst Manor, and that offers the same perspective of life as a teenager growing up amongst the rainforests, mountains, and forests there. The view Remhurst Manor offers is of life in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s a backdrop that is pretty magical just on its own.  So, naturally there’s going to be some  otherworldly /fantasy /supernatural themes in the plot of a novel set there. Still, I think there’s also a good dose of realism in Remhurst Manor, which, hopefully, can be relatable to readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tamasine Loves is an Australian author whose debut young-adult novel, ‘Remhurst Manor’, was first written for her high school friends and was delivered as printed serialisations and passed on in between classes. The serialisations were compiled, and there was a printed first draft of what would later become ‘Remhurst Manor’ just in time for her fifteenth birthday.

Years later, as a twenty-three-year-old uni student, Tamasine Loves turned from ‘writer’ into ‘author’ during an internship at MadeGlobal Publishing. She was introduced to the MadeGlobal team as an intern, and was then reintroduced several months later as the author of ‘Remhurst Manor’.

Tamasine has recently moved from Melbourne, Australia to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tamasine is a sub-editor for two peer-reviewed journals. She has published short stories and poetry, but telling long tales is where her true love lies. Tamasine lists her favourite things as literature, lattes, live music, alliteration, and her cat called Morrissey (who, she insists, is indeed ‘a charming man’).

Twitter @TamasineLoves

Book Information

Remhurst Manor
Tamasine Loves

There is a mystery that lies in the grounds of Remhurst Manor; a mystery concerning the unsolved 19th century murders of four teenagers.

Laine Brimble is slipping between two lives. Her life at home in present-day Australia, and the life of a nobleman’s daughter living in 19th century England’s Remhurst Manor.

Until now, Laine was able to keep her two lives separate and secret. But, Laine is about to find out that though centuries past and oceans over, Remhurst’s mysterious history is about to get a lot closer to her than she expected; a dark presence has arrived in her hometown, seeking to settle a centuries-old vendetta.

Between home and school and the 19th-century, not to mention a blossoming relationship with new-boy-in-town, Laine struggles to keep past and present on parallel paths … but it seems as if they are on a collision course where the inevitable outcome is death.

Will Laine unearth the mysteries lying in the grounds of Remhurst Manor? Can she be the one to finally put Remhurst’s past behind it? Will she do it before a deadly history repeats itself?

Keep up with my latest posts by following me and subscribing to my newsletter!

Get all the latest with my newsletter

* indicates required

May Advertisers

Post a comment