Home | About Us | Contact Us
01730 829091

A.C. Flanagan

To start with the following are a few questions which relate to your latest book ‘Ecstasy’ published by Ransom Publishing as part of the Cutting Edge series:

When we first meet Carrie she is a self absorbed, whiney teenager bemoaning her own fate as her friend lies in the emergency room with a drug overdose. As the book progresses, however, Carrie is forced to face up to some stark realities about herself. Do you think the reader would find it easier to blame her for what happened that night if she hadn’t gone through the process of self examination?

I think we get a better understanding of Carrie as the book progresses and her process of self discovery allows us to be empathetic with her when she finally confesses her part in the night’s events.

The book has two concurrent themes running, social drug taking and issues teenagers from different traditional backgrounds face when trying to integrate their home lives with school lives. What do you think combines such contrasting topics within the book?

The empathy which develops between Mrs Truong and Carrie is the twine which binds their different life experiences together. The ‘ah ha’ moments each have as they share their stories of Mai-Ling’s life allow them both to reflect on their unconscious and conscious role in the tragedy as a whole. Carrie’s party girl attitude of ‘all care no responsibility’ contrasts with that of Mrs Truong but inevitably both women play a significant role in Mai-Ling’s life threatening circumstance.

Carrie tells her story with a sense of misplaced pride whilst Mrs Truong relates her life experiences with regret and sorrow. There are quite a few parallels in both their stories. Why do you think their attitudes are so different?

I think Carrie, being so young, believes she is ‘bullet proof’. Her father’s power and money have always been her safety net. This, coupled with some naivety has given her the bravado that she is infallible. Mrs Truong’s life, in contrast, has had no ‘safety net’ and so her life experiences have centred around her survival and the survival of her family. It is clear that money has given Carrie more opportunities in life and softened her landing on many occasions but as she realises her father’s money cannot change the events of this one night we see her attitude starting to change.

There is a lot of sensationalising of drugs in the media and in some ways we become immune to the seriousness of the effects of drugs on individual lives. How is this story different?

Ecstasy is not a story about drugs or drug taking per say. It is a story about the emotional fallout of those left behind to cope with the end result a friend’s decision to experiment with drugs.

The book is set in Sydney Australia and touches on the multicultural nature of Australian society. Do you think this theme has relevance elsewhere?

Absolutely, I think the issues addressed are those of belonging albeit in the story this theme is wrapped up as cultural belonging therefore I believe the relevance of this is far reaching.

How long have you been writing?

Ecstasy is my second book, the first book, Raindance was published in 2006 so I guess I’m relatively new as a writer.

What inspired you to write Ecstasy?

As a mother I am concerned about the issues teenagers face with the pressures of fitting in with their piers and experimenting with new experiences. I wanted to write a book which reflected the emotional journey of those of us ‘on the outside looking in’. I believe stories are a traditional means of relating experiences and they allow us to walk in another’s shoes.

You have a degree in Chemical Engineering and over the years you have been a school teacher, a computer programmer, a Business Analyst, a Business Writer and an author. Has writing always been a passion?

Yes, I have wanted to write since my early twenties but for one reason or another I put it on the back burner until I was in my early forties. Despite the fact that I appear to be a ‘serial career changer’ my desire to write has been a constant.

What took writing ‘off the back burner’ for you after almost twenty years?

With the break down of my second marriage I suddenly found myself as a single working mum with two very small children. Holding down a full time job meant I had no time to spend on anything which meant extra hours away from the home. I turned to writing as my ‘time for me’ after the kids went to sleep and it seemed like the ideal opportunity to launch myself into the one thing I had never found time for before. I think the old adage ‘if you want something done ask a busy person’ was the case here.

How do you go about research for your books?

My research is often done by observing people and how they cope with or react to the situations they find themselves in. Extrapolating these experiences and emotions into my characters help build the human side of my stories and around this I research the factual details I need using books, the internet and so on.

Creative writing tips?

Disengage the brain and allow yourself to ‘catch’ your story without over thinking it. The brain is a computer which can only run the programs which have been installed by the past. To create something imaginative you need to use your senses and your imagination.