We chatted with Peeling Oranges author James Lawless about why he loves writing and his latest book, American Doll.
Born in Dublin, Lawless was first introduced to writing by his parents. “My father bought me a diary at the age of twelve, and that got me started. However, I feel like my mother perhaps unwittingly inspired me to become a writer as she always read to me as a child.”
Lawless’s work has been published in many magazines and anthologies. Most of his novels deal with relationships between two nationalities, and his latest novel is no different. In American Doll, New Yorker Laura Calane moves to Ireland to further her studies and live in what her father considers a safer environment following the 9/11 tragedy. When in Ireland, she discovers that the land of her ancestors is not the haven she had believed it to be. When she meets social worker Danny Faraday, she is torn between her attraction toward him and the emotional blackmail of her uncle Thady, who is domiciled in Ireland and who never lets her forget that he saved her father’s life in a terrorist attack in New York in 1993.
“The initial prompt was the realization that Irish and American perceptions of each other were quite stereotypical partly due to Hollywood,” Lawless explained when we asked what prompted him to write the book. “I wanted to explore what real and contemporary American and Irish people thought of the world and each other. That, coupled with the shock of 9/11, helped to form the story.”
Lawless also shared that the novel took three years to complete: one year for research, one year for writing the first draft, and another year for editing the draft. He shared with us that editing is an extremely important part of the process.
Danny Faraday is Lawless’s favorite character from the novel. “He is flawed and damaged and undergoes quite a change by the end of the book,” he said. “I also liked writing about Danny’s realization at the waterfall.”
Other than being an author, Lawless is also a book reviewer for Books Ireland, the Sunday Independent, and Irish Examiner. As for leisurely reading, he likes literary books, poetry collections, philosophy books, and odd thrillers. Some of his favorite books include Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Currently, he is working on another novel examining Joyce’s “two thinks at a time.”
When he’s not writing, reviewing, or reading, Lawless shares that he loves the outdoors. “I like gardening and nature and walking and swimming, and I’m hoping to return to tennis.” He also said that nature imbues his work. “Walking by the Royal Canal and the River Liffey near where I live allows me to wonder about life, my philosophy being life is not what you make it but what you make of it.”
When asked about the best writing tip he knows, Lawless tells us this: “Never let a thought go by. Capture it on the wing.” He hopes that his latest novel provides stimulation for the mind and suspense for the curious.
However, when we asked him for his message to writers who hope to be published one day, he had this to offer: “Have you the bottle?”
We at 1-Hour Proofreading celebrate all writers, regardless of genre and style. How about you? Who’s your favorite author? Or maybe you’re a writer who wants to be featured? Shoot us a message! Watch out for more Author Highlights!
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