Lady Beth by Caroline E. Farrell. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Beth has never told her son who his father is. She wants nothing more than to protect him, so it’s best he doesn’t know. The memories are too painful for Beth and there is nothing to be gained by revisiting them. Then tragedy strikes and Beth is lefty with no option but to deal with the aspects of her past she would rather forget.
Jesse wants to live his life, his own way, without his mother watching his every move. Why must she be so clingy? Can’t she see how suffocating she is being?
Lady Beth is a fast-paced tale of Dublin’s underworld; a tale of the affects of crime and drugs not only on those involved, but on the people around them. Farrell’s writing is taut and grabs your attention immediately.
Lady Beth is told from multiple perspectives, how did you ensure that Jesse, Rebecca and Beth each have a distinctive voice?
Fictional characters can live in my head for a very long time before I put them to page and in the case of Lady Beth; these characters first appeared in a screenplay version about eight years ago. Despite leaving them alone for periods of time as I moved on to work on other projects, they were never far from my thoughts, and of course, time allowed them to evolve. As their voices grew louder, so too did their unique three-dimensional qualities. Particularly in the case of Jesse and Rebecca (and Frankie), these characters are so young, each living a very different and flawed experience. Not yet fully-formed adults, but almost, living on the cusp of self-realisation while full of contradictions too, which influences every decision they make on their troubled paths. The themes explored in Lady Beth are universal while the rawness of the language and their environment are unique to the Irish context. My own backyard. I created complex back stories, with more layers than would ever appear in the book, which gave me a sense of their identities, and each of them a separate and authentic voice. Once their personalities were established in my head, it was easier to get under their skins, and to write from their viewpoints as distinct individuals. Even now, they still feel very real to me.
Self publishing generates a lot of discussion. Can you tell us a bit about how you found the process and why you felt it was the right choice for you?
I quite enjoyed the challenge of the process. As an independent filmmaker, a storyteller, putting work out there goes with the territory, so I have developed a thick skin! And I did my homework, so went in with the understanding that publishing independently is hard work, very hard work. It is also very time consuming. A professional edit is costly, but essential. A professional cover design is also essential, and story is king – I can’t tell you how many drafts I wrote – so, so many! I had sent earlier drafts to three different agents and a couple of publishers – the responses were encouraging, but no-one was biting. My dilemma was should I continue to put so much energy into submission after submission with no guarantees, or just go ahead and publish independently and see what the reaction might be. And how best to use my creative time, which for all writers in the real world, is so, so precious. I made the decision to just get on with finishing it, to get it out there and to move on to the next project. Of course, I had those nail-biting moments of self-doubt, but I had to just go with it and trust the process. If the book bombed or disappeared without a trace, the risk was mine and mine alone. And I would just get cracking on the next one and strive to write better. Luckily, early feedback is so encouraging. It would be lovely to have a traditional publisher at my back, particularly for the marketing, promotion and reviewer connections, which are the most difficult of all the elements of going Indie with a project. Luckily for me, I have had encouraging support from some very generous authors, reviewers, librarians, bookstores and book lovers. I understand the difficulties faced by traditional publishers, the digital world has certainly changed the game in terms of publishing opportunities and how readers can access the material they want to read. I think the divide between trad and Indie is narrowing all the time, and personally, I just want to write and get my work out there. The Reader decides if it is any good, and their opinion is gold.
Writing is a solitary process. Do you have a routine so that you don’t get completely lost in the world(s) you’re creating?
I’m fine with solitude. I’m not a morning person, so getting up early to write would never work for me. I tend to do a lot of imagining and plotting late into the night – the witching hour – though I can write at any time of the day. I’m a notebook nerd, have quite a collection, and I’ll jot down stuff, anything that inspires me that might later grow into stories. I’m lucky that I don’t live alone as I can lose track of time when I am writing – I even forget to eat!
You are also a filmmaker. When you have an idea, do you immediately know which medium it belongs in?
Not immediately, no, but it will come naturally once I am into the business of actual writing. Drama is action, the narrative of a screenplay being very structured and allowing for the white space, so it’s a process of paring the writing down and down – a very defined medium of storytelling. My scripts are mainly character-driven, with story development requiring the same level, and length, of process as when writing prose. In terms of subtext, I’m writing copious amounts of notes anyway, as is the case with Lady Beth, and I’ll end up with enough material to write the story in both formats if the creative energy is there.
I love hearing what other people are passionate about reading, even if they can’t narrow it down to a favourite. Which book do you wish you thrust into the arms of strangers and demand they read it immediately?
A great question – and very difficult to pick just one! I’ll go with a classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is one of my absolute favourites – an amazing work of gothic fiction. Oscar Wilde, so ahead of his time – a complete legend. Imagine if he was alive today – superstar! Controversial for its time in its exploration of vanity, obsession with youth, beauty, addiction and desire, and as vibrant today as when it was first published, it is also a compelling novel of mystery and suspense.
Caroline Farrell is a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland. She is the author of the novels Lady Beth and Arkyne, Story of a Vampire. She has also written several feature length and short screenplays. Lady Beth is available in paperback and ebook format.