Women24 Chats with Author Linda Penhall

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Women24 chats to South-African based Irish author Linda Penhall about her book They Never Gave Up, a heart-warming chick-lit with substance read.

Q: Tell us a little about your journey into the publishing world. Where did it all start for you?
A:
As a child, I had no definite writing ambitions but I was an avid reader. Then, as I matured, it seemed like a natural extension for me to write short stories, a simple matter of scribbling down what my imagination was producing away at the time.
I just put my thoughts on paper. When two of those stories were accepted for publication in two very different anthologies I took the plunge and wrote a much longer story — a book length story. The result – They Never Gave Up was born.

lindaQ: They Never Gave Up deals with themes of love, loss and friendship – things that most women undoubtedly hold close to their hearts. What made you incorporate these themes into your novel?
A: Everyone, not just women deal with these delicate and sometimes capricious emotions — emotions if ineffectually handled can cause not only rifts but also downright dissension between family, friends as well as lovers — trust me I know, I’ve been there.
Hence I decided to write a story depicting the lives of two very different women as they love, work and laugh in the midst of stroppy nuns, adorable horses, unruly scuba divers, and the fine-tuning required to adjust from being carefree and single to a somewhat responsible wife and mother, all with hubby’s interfering mother looking on … I just wrote what I felt the nuances of love, loss and the vagaries true friendship gives rise to when put to the ultimate test.

Q: Cathy and Pauline are both strong female characters and yet they couldn’t be more different from each other.  What is it that made their friendship work so well?
A: I guess it’s down to the widespread notion that opposites do match and Cathy and Pauline, while very different, are undoubtedly two half’s of a whole — what one lacks the other makes up for — something that cannot be easily explained.

Q: Are your characters (specifically Cathy and Pauline) based on anyone that you know?

A: The answer to that has got to be a yes, even if in a roundabout way. You see, I didn’t intentionally base the characters on real people but I did base the story on real feelings.
Then again, I think most storywriters inadvertently create characters from people they already know or at least hope to meet … imagination only goes so far.

Q: You have previously owned an Irish Pub and Restaurant and were also involved in both the equestrian and airline industry. Did you consciously decide to immerse your characters into a world that was and is so familiar to you?

A: Truthfully, I never planned to do that. It was only when I’d written the first four or five chapters that I sat back and said, crap, this sounds far too much like me,  the upshot,  I nearly scrapped the whole idea thinking it was bordering on the biographical, but I didn’t. Now, I get emails from people asking me which one am I — Cathy or Pauline?  I’ll say no more …
Q: What would you say makes your novel different to any other novel out there?

A: I like to think of They Never Gave Up as an entertaining fictional beach read with a fair amount of honest to goodness true-life substance.

Q:  Which authors do you draw your inspiration from? And which of their books would you recommend to our readers?
A: I admire any writer who sits down in front of a keyboard, writes ‘Chapter One’ and keeps on going until they type ‘The End’.
Mind you, if I was ever to meet Marion Keyes I’m sure I’d feel compelled to curtsy — she’s not the labeled the queen of romantic comedy for nothing. Which of her books do I recommend … hard to say as I enjoyed all of them.

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