KL: To be honest, I’m not really sure. Sometimes things we are passionate about just seem to have always been there, as if they are part of our genetic make-up. Was I born a writer, or did something act as a catalyst when I was very young? All I know is that writing is something I have always done and always loved in one form or another from the moment I could hold a pen. By the time I started school I had a large callous on the middle finger of my right hand where the pen rests. If I wasn't writing stories, I was writing letters to countless penfriends. Individual letters of the alphabet also fascinate me, so I also got into calligraphy. I was always a keen reader too, which I think goes hand in hand with writing.
KL: The idea for Mine to Avenge had its genesis in the events of September 11, 2001. As I watched the events unfold on television the day after the terrorist attacks, I had a ‘What if?’ thought suddenly come to me. Unfortunately I can’t reveal what that thought was, as it would be a major plot-spoiler, but the thought stayed with me for several years, before I realized there might be a story in it. There was a lot going on in my own life at the time, and I was living my own real life suspense drama. It wasn't until January 2010, nine years later, that I sat down to start on my story, and translate my ‘What if?’ idea into a story. Things in my personal life were still in upheaval at the time, and I chose to sit down and start writing then as a means of taking my focus off of my own problems.
BBB: Tell us about your main character Alcandor?
KL: Alcandor was born in a small Greek village in 1914. He grows up alongside Caterina, a young girl from the same village. They grow up as childhood sweethearts, making their own unspoken pledge to one another, well before their parents formerly match them. Alcandor is a tall, fair man in his youth.
When Alcandor isn’t with Caterina, he is found with his best male friend and confidant, Constantine. The two men often go camping and hunting together, and plan to go away to war together as the Second World War draws closer.
However, a terrible tragedy destroys their friendship, and Alcandor, who is by now married to Caterina with a young family, flees Greece to escape their post-war ravaged country and to leave painful memories behind.
Alcandor is not a well man, with a history of tuberculosis, and he has frequent relapses while enjoying freedom and prosperity in Australia. His body deeply feels the effects of this, making him feel much older than he really is.
However, Alcandor has been unable to shake the tragedy of the past and the rupture of his friendship with Constantine. Just as tuberculosis frequently returns to plague his body, so do memories of the past return to plague his soul. He has carried a secret to Australia with him, and not even his beloved Caterina knows this secret.
One fateful night, Alcandor realizes that this secret has not been lying dead and buried for the past eighteen years, but has pursued him even to the shores of Australia. He decides to tell his wife the truth, and ask her for advice as to what they should do, but again, a tragedy intervenes which prevents him from doing so, and makes Alcandor a prisoner to the truth, completely unable to tell his family what is about to happen to them and unable to do anything to prevent it.
BBB: What do you think readers will remember most about Mine to Avenge?
KL: If readers take anything away from Mine to Avenge, I hope it will be an awareness of what can occur when people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, or lack of them, and choose to blame someone else instead. The antagonist character, Constantine, is devastated at the loss of his beloved sister, Helena, and deep down feels that as her guardian, he is responsible for the tragedy, because he has neglected to take the trouble to find a match for her. However, he is unable to see that her death was no more than an unfortunate and tragic accident, and nothing at all to do with him. Unable to deal with the guilt of what he perceives to be his own lack of responsibility, he blames his best friend for the tragedy, resulting in a chain of vengeance lasting 70 years.
KL: I am currently working on the sequel/companion volume to Mine to Avenge, though I must admit that it has taken a bit of a back seat since NaNoWriMo last year, when I worked very solidly at it. The first half of the story is a companion volume, running alongside the events of Mine to Avenge. It relates the lives of two of the minor characters - in fact they only feature in Mine to Avenge by name. In Mine to Avenge we read that these characters, Christina and her daughter, Anna, flee their abusive husband and father to start a new life. The second half of their story is to be the sequel to Mine to Avenge, where Linus, one of the main characters from Mine to Avenge, seeks to track down Christina and Anna, as they are his grandmother and aunt.
BBB: Can you offer advice to authors who are seeking to have their work published?
KL: There are probably three things I would emphasize to aspiring writers -
Firstly - have your book professionally edited.
Secondly - have your book professionally edited.
Thirdly - have your book professionally edited.
Get the point? This is vitally important and the best investment you will ever make in your book. Self-published books get much bad press because many authors skip this vital step, resulting in sloppy work. This makes it difficult for self-published authors to approach people for reviews and promotion, because reviewers and promoters have seen so much bad self-published work that they have to set up policies to screen the work they choose to review. They don’t want to waste their time bothering with a story if they are struggling with typos and bad grammar. Even after your work has been professionally edited, don’t rush to get it printed. Read it through again, and again and again, and especially ask others to read it for you, looking for things that have been overlooked. I was very keen to have my book available to the public, but I took nine months over this final stage, because I wanted as clean a manuscript as possible.
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