Interview – M. P. Tonnesen
Tell us about your books. Why should everyone buy them?
My debut novel, The Cosmopolitan Islander, is about women’s roles in the 21st century; the juggling act many women face of having to be an executive in the boardroom, mother in the nursery, and domestic goddess in the kitchen – and bedroom.
But it’s also about the wider issue of identity in general – men’s too. How you and your perspectives and values develop through life and are influenced by who you meet, what you do, the choices you make, and even where you live.
It’s about love and sex and the balance between the two. About power and money, and how these impact our lives, careers, hopes and dreams. It’s about friendships, and how they can develop in the most unexpected ways.
Read it if you want to be taken on a thrilling journey around the world, following a strong, modern woman’s quest for happiness.
My novel in the making is upmarket fiction with an action-packed travel twist, targeted at adventurous globetrotters and readers just longing to escape, who would enjoy a unique coming-of-age love story in an exotic setting.
The story is set in the Middle East in the nineties and follows the journey of a privileged young woman, Olivia, from Scandinavia to a region rich in history, culture, conflict and passion. A whirlwind romance with a local kibbutznik, Chaim, takes a dramatic turn, leaving her caught between countries, belonging nowhere, and with the love of her life in danger far away.
It is a complex love story woven into a thrilling journey of self-discovery and rebellion, during which the female protagonist encounters the dangers of travelling unaccompanied in a male-dominated society, explores magnificent historical sights and cultural experiences, as well as questions the concepts of hate, fate, war and peace – all set against the backdrop of music and key events of the nineties. It will be published next year, so watch this space!
What is your all time favourite novel? What makes it special?
Oh, there are so many to choose from! I loved The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. It is one of the few books I keep going back to reread. I find his musings around time, living and being, history and writing fascinating and on point. I like his style and language which are very succinct, and how he balances witty with melancholic in an elegant manner. The plot twist is great too!
Which author would you love to have dinner with?
Elizabeth Gilbert. She has led quite an interesting life, and her autobiographical book, Eat Pray Love, was very inspirational to me with her main character searching for the meaning of her life, the myth of having it all which modern women struggle with today, and the different challenges and benefits of the various geographical settings. Today she inspires me through her positive and creative outlook on life.
Tell us about your hobbies and passions other than writing.
I love good food, but unfortunately do not have as much time for culinary experiments as I would like to have, but I try when I can. I do a bit of yoga, pilates and running for my body and mind. And as much travelling as possible! I love discovering new places and cultures – particularly in the sun!
We have many followers who would like to start writing a book or are already writing their first novel, any advice for these brave people?
Some writers and writing instructors are very strict on the rules of plot and structure; the whole “all stories fall in three acts”, and “the smoking gun is introduced in the first act” etc. With my first piece of fiction, I just went with the flow and the story grew organically until I got to a point where I had so much material, it needed some structure. It was a very liberating process, especially as it was very different to my other “day job” as a business consultant, which is all about structure and top down thinking. Once I had the critical mass, that’s when I started to read more books on plot, structure, story and character arcs, beats and scenes to supplement the creative writing courses I have taken over the years. But everyone is different, so go with your instincts and let your characters and their stories guide you. The most important thing is perseverance!
In general, you obviously need to have a vivid Lead Character with some compelling Objectives and Obstacles and an interesting Outcome. To me it’s the characters and the conflict which drive the story. An exciting Setting is the cherry on top.
Do you keep a notebook with ideas for your novels? If so do you carry the notebook with you so you won’t forget any ideas?
I do keep notebooks, but unfortunately I do not always have one with me when inspiration strikes. About 70% of my first novel was written on my iPhone. Even napkins or receipts have served the purpose. The ideas come at any time – when I’m driving, when I’m in the shower, or quite often just before I fall asleep when my subconscious is taking over. It’s in those little moments of daydreaming that your imagination seems to really kick in or your mind is able to tap into little treasure troves of hidden memories and impressions.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I had never heard of this splendid, historically inspired saga until I came across the TV series and completely fell in love with the characters. I just had to read the books too!
Certainly you have had some interesting episodes as an author, fans related or others, share one of them with us.
Living on a small island whilst writing about a fictional story taking place on a small island turned out to be a bit controversial. I have had quite a few people approach me to ask if they were this character or that character! I guess it is flattering that readers find my writing so relatable, and the majority of them have given me very positive feedback as you can see in my book’s reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. On the flip side, I have had people feel offended or hurt due to misinterpretations of my book, which of course never has or will be my intention when writing. Becoming a publicly published writer has been an eye-opening experience and a personal challenge to manage too.
However, all writers are to a certain extent inspired by the world around them – Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Stephen King to name a few – but then you imagine, exaggerate and add conflict for dramatic effect. You create fictional characters and storylines based on a whole melting pot of inspirational bits and pieces from music, films, the news, family, friends, childhood memories, random strangers in the street, park, restaurant or when travelling. All of this inspires me and triggers different scenes and emotions I can channel into my writing – hopefully to my readers’ enjoyment.
A final message for our circleofbooks.com readers…
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Keep reaching for the stars. Keep living life fully!
Thank you M. P. Tonnesen. We at circleofbooks.com wish you much success!