Interview with Christina McDonald, author of The Night Olivia Fell
Christina and I are colleagues in the 2019 Debut Authors Group, a stellar bunch of writers (if I may say so myself!). Christina is a delight – you can tell by her lovely author picture. Her suspense novel, The Night Olivia Fell, was released in February to rave reviews. I found it a true pleasure to read while balancing on the edge of my seat. I know how busy Christina currently is and so am truly grateful that she agreed to take the time to answer the following questions.
1. Congratulations on the success of The Night Olivia Fell! Are you in any way surprised by how well received it is? Did this differ from what your expectations were as a debut novelist?
Thank you so much! I mean, you always hope your book that you’ve slaved away on for years will be well received, but when it happens it’s still a bit surprising. I think it’s all still so new to me! But it’s wonderful and exciting and I’m so, so grateful that readers are enjoying The Night Olivia Fell.
2. The premise for The Night Oliva Fell is so different, where did the idea come from for your plot structure?
About five and a half years ago I’d had a new baby and was rocking him to sleep reading the news on my phone. I read a story about a 13-year old girl in California named Jahi McMath who had gone into surgery to have her tonsils removed, suffered massive blood loss, and ultimately was declared brain dead.
I looked at my baby utterly horrified and thought about Jahi’s mother, how devastating it would be to hold your child in your arms, watch her take her first steps, go to sleepovers, become a teenager, and have her be so savagely ripped away. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. I started thinking ‘what if’. What if she was a teenager, what if she was pregnant, what if her mother thought she’d been murdered. So from that news story, the seeds of The Night Olivia Fell were planted.
3. One of the things I found most compelling about The Night Oliva Fell is the relationship between Abi and Olivia – mother and daughter. Can you elaborate on what inspired you to develop this?
I knew as soon as I sat down to write this, in fact as soon as the idea for it occurred, that it would be a story about a mother and daughter, told from each of their different perspectives. I think the mother-daughter relationship is so complex and so unique, and I really wanted to explore that more. Plus, I thought it would be great to have the different POVs so that the reader would be able to really get inside each of their heads and know what they were thinking and why they acted the way they did.
Abi and Olivia have a really special relationship because in many ways Olivia feels she has to take care of Abi, while Abi, as the mother, has always just done her best to take care of Olivia. My mother was a single mom, and I think a lot of the way Abi thinks is inspired from that, and maybe even some of the way Olivia wants to care for her mom.
4. You are coming out with a new book soon. Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I have a new book in the works! It is currently tentatively called All That Is Broken and it will be out Feb 2020. It’s about a woman who is struck by lightning and wakes up in the hospital unable to remember if she murdered her mom. This book again has a mother/daughter protagonist but explores themes of identity, trust—of ourselves and others—and the secrets that families keep.
Here’s the full synopsis – https://christina-mcdonald.com/all-that-is-broken/
5. How long did it take you to write The Night Olivia Fell and did you work on it full time?
Writing the first draft only took me a few months, but I did (what felt like!) hundreds of revisions. I was working full-time and I had two young children so every spare minute in the evenings after they were in bed or snippets of time at the weekends that I could write, I did. I then revised loads before sending it to an agent, revised loads more before she sent it to an editor, revised some more, and then it became an actual book. It’s a very long process!
6. What advice would you give other debut authors who have not yet published their books (for example, me!)?
Don’t give up and don’t get dejected. This is a hard game and a long one and if you get distracted it can all end really fast! It’s easy to get caught up in the star reviews or the blogger’s comments or the sales numbers, but it’s important not to otherwise we won’t make it to book 2 or even 3. Try to ignore all that stuff, stay focused and write the next book, and the next one, and the one after.
7. Do you have a passion or hobby that you do in your free time?
My biggest passion, unsurprisingly, is reading. I’m a massive bookworm and read constantly. In fact, I rarely ever watch TV, I just read. I love lifting weights at my gym, but I hate running. I also love walks in the park with my dog and my family.
8. How can readers learn more about you and your work?
I have a book club where I do book giveaways and write bits of information about me and chat books on my website. https://christina-mcdonald.com/
If they want to make sure they get notified of book sales or new releases, they can follow me on BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christina-mcdonald
Christina, I so appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there is any additional information you wish to provide, please feel free. And a massive congratulations on your success!
My social channels
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Christinamac79/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/christinamac79/
Thank you so much, and best of luck when your book comes out! It’s such a wonderful feeling!
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