I’ve been reaching out to Moïra Fowley-Doyle, author of The Accident Season which was one of my favorite books of 2015, for a while and we discussed doing an interview. I’m thrilled to finally get to host her after months of obsessing over her book! I participated in the blog tour and made an atmospheric mood board – and shared my thoughts on the book!
Every October, Cara and her family become inexplicably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. They know what they need to do—stock up on bandages and painkillers, cover sharp table edges with padding, banish knives to locked drawers, switch off electrical items. They buckle up, they batten down.
But this accident season—when Cara; her ex-stepbrother, Sam; and her best friend, Bea, are seventeen—none of that will make a difference.
Because Cara is starting to ask questions. And the answers were never meant to be found.
A haunting, untethered, addictive read that perfectly captures that time in our lives when our hearts crack open and the raw secrets of our true selves burst forth—whether we are ready or not.
(PS: You can follow her on Twitter!)
Moïra Fowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and lives in Dublin with her husband, their young daughter and their old cat. Moïra’s French half likes red wine and dark books in which everybody dies. Her Irish half likes tea and happy endings.
Moïra spent several years at university studying vampires in young adult fiction before concentrating on writing young adult fiction with no vampires in it whatsoever. She wrote her first novel at the age of eight, when she was told that if she wrote a story about spiders she wouldn’t be afraid of them any more. Moïra is still afraid of spiders, but has never stopped writing stories.
How did you go about structuring or writing magical realism? Did it come naturally to you or did you have to skate a line between too contemporary or fantastical?
Magic realism is my preferred method of storytelling and I think that’s because it’s the closest to the way I think – when I was younger even my diaries tended towards the dreamy and not-quite-real. I’ve always loved the idea of the everyday being secretly extraordinary, of truth being subjective and how sometimes even in real life the details can blur to make a better story.
The book always fell somewhere between the contemporary and the fantastical, but I had to do a good bit of work on balancing the dreamy mood of the book with the actual story. The first draft of The Accident Season was heavy on the dreaminess and light on pretty much everything else. With the base of the book being the slippiness between fantasy and reality, the subsequent drafts were about getting it to make some kind of sense. I’ve discovered that this is just how I write – the first draft of my new book was pretty much the same and the second draft was all about finding a story inside the dreamy creepy chaos. Actually, maybe that should be my writing manifesto: finding a story inside the dreamy creepy chaos of life.
What’s your writing process like?
I start with snippets and details and half-formed thoughts – a doll on a mouse trap, tarot cards and pencil cases, a secrets booth in the school canteen – then I sit down to write and see what comes out. I don’t plot or plan any more than that which means that most of the work happens in revisions. The first draft is a mess of ideas and images and is basically just the characters introducing themselves and telling me their story. It’s an organic sort of process that can cause a bit of anxiety when the plot’s stuck or details aren’t working and I have no idea where it’s going to go – or, frequently, how the book’s going to end – but it’s also pretty exciting. One of my favourite parts of writing is when it finally clicks and half a chapter appears out of nowhere that somehow manages to tie everything together. It always feels a little like magic.
Which character do you connect most to within THE ACCIDENT SEASON?
I think there’s a lot of me (or a lot of teenage me) in all the characters. I ended up being surprised by how drawn I was to Cara’s mother while writing – maybe because somewhere around draft 6 of the book I became a mother myself. It’s difficult not to identify with that obsessive need to protect, when you’re caring for your own tiny baby. While I think I understood Cara most (which is understandable – I did give her the voice of the book), I am probably more Bea-ish than I like to admit.
What do you hope readers get from the novel?
I have two answers to this question and the first is the most true. I hope that readers get from The Accident Season the same sense of connection I get from a book I love: that little blue blink of recognition – the one that makes you underline a passage, the one that makes you understand from experience what makes a character tick, the one that makes you almost believe this book was written specifically for you. Failing that, I hope readers get an enjoyable few hours’ read.
What have you been reading lately?
I’m currently reading Palimpsest by Catherynne M Valente and it’s dizzying and gorgeous so far. I also just finished Hannah Moskowitz’s A History of Glitter and Blood which I can’t stop thinking about. It’s wonderful and clever and strange and so beautifully written and has the best unreliable narrator I think I’ve ever read. I’m also re-reading The Bell Jar because I haven’t read it since I was 15 and I’ve been revisiting a lot of Sylvia Plath’s poetry and remembering how much I love the way she plays with language.
Can you tell us about any projects you might have in the works?
I’m working on my second novel at the moment, which is another standalone, and similarly magic-realistic (magic-realism-y? I really should find the word for it) to The Accident Season. It’s about lost things in the same way that The Accident Season was about accidents, which means it’s not really about lost things but mostly about friendship and tattoos and strong alcohol and trying to outrun the past. I can’t say too much about it just yet but it should be published early next year and I’m really excited about it.