Meet Author Tony Healey Vintage Love Stories
Vintage Love Stories, an original anthology of love stories set before social media and cell phones, was recently published in audio and will be available soon in paperback and ebook. For the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting the authors and narrators who contributed to this lovely project.
Vintage Love Stories features Tony Healey’s story, Adele. Adele features: A couple who's been married for decades. A secret shared. And a love that shows the beauty in supporting a partner when they share their authentic self.
What inspired Adele?
I saw a tweet about the new Blunder Woman anthology, and decided to do something for it. I was intrigued by the theme of the collection: love stories set before cell phones and the internet. Instantly I had the central image for the story in my head. I pictured an older couple facing a crisis in their relationship; that of a long-held secret suddenly brought into the light. Instead of portraying young love, I thought it would be interesting to explore the love of a couple in their sixties. When you’ve been together decades, you’ve likely faced an untold number of challenges along the way. Marriage is very much a dance between two people, a game of give and take; pursuit and compromise. If one of you has been concealing a secret self all that time—and that secret is exposed—will the marriage survive, or is it one crisis too far?
I found myself fired-up by the quick turn-around required by the submission guidelines. I had only a few days to put something together. I tend to write a few hours each day. I spent two sessions hammering out the story, then a third session reading through it, rewriting parts, trying to make it flow as well as I could. Then I sent it off to Blunder Woman and hoped for the best. Sometimes, short stories can be hit and miss. They either work or they don’t and because they’re so short, it’s often not worth obsessing about a story that didn’t pan out. As Johnny Cash tells us, you’ve just got to ‘Drive on, it don’t mean nothing.’
I knew as I was writing ‘Adele’ that it worked nicely. I managed to put into words the little mini movie that was playing in my head, and sometimes that’s very hard to do. I didn’t have to ‘Drive on’ with this one because it meant something.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stick with it. Finish what you're working on. Don't listen to too much advice--even if it does come from your future self!
Which character in your story would be worst to take on a road trip? Why?
To be honest, none of them. I was quite fond of them all!
What books have most influenced your life?
I would say THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, because it showed me that a murder mystery/thriller could be a bona fide work of literature; THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA which offered a multi-layered world with a strong mythology; IT by Stephen King, for being revelatory when it came to structure, and for really making us care about the cast of characters, and the evil they face; THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova, which really blew my mind by taking what was possible with a historical novel and stretching it in ways I'd have never thought possible; THE SHINING GIRLS, a masterclass in juggling different timelines, and truly delivering a satisfaction sucker-punch of an ending; LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson, which just left me dumbfounded. The sheer audacity of that book, to do what it did . . . I could've kept on reading that book forever. As you can tell, I could probably go on. Every novel I've read that has moved me, or inspired me, has had a huge effect on my life. Some of them in way I probably don't yet realise. And isn't that the true power of fiction?
Can you tell us about your current project(s)?
As of this writing (August, 2018), I have a novel out on submission (meaning, my agent has sent it out to publishers to be read), and I have another cooling off in my hard drive. I'll probably do a rewrite on that at the end of the year. Sometimes it's good to let a project rest, and attack it with fresh eyes. At the moment, I'm alternating between a work of fiction, and notes for an audio-only project.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Many years ago, I read an excellent book by Robert McKee called STORY and I encourage every writer to own a copy. It's like my bible. Whenever I get stuck on something, or need some inspiration, I can open that book and turn to any section, and BOOM! There it is. Other than that, I think you just get a sense of how to plot as you learn to write. Watching a shit tonne of movies doesn't hurt, either.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you hold the reins of the story?
I'm always in control of the overarching plot, but the characters usually take over when it comes to the content of scenes and/or chapters. That said, sometimes what these buggers do de-rails my carefully laid plans, and I have to alter the ending to accommodate them.
Would you call your main character to hang out? Why or why not?
Sure, why not? After reading the story, I'd like to think readers will want to become friends with Adele.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
My harshest critic is always my friend, and mentor, Bernard Schaffer. He pulls no punches, and doesn't mince his words when he reads my word and gives me a critique. But, 1. It's always coming from the right place, and 2. He's usually right about what he calls me out on.
What has been the best compliment you've received about your writing?
Readers who really responded to the character of Ida in the Harper and Lane books (HOPE'S PEAK and STORM'S EDGE -- published by Thomas and Mercer) let me know about it, too. That meant a lot to me, because I tried my hardest to make her special, and unique. I'd like to do a solo novel some day, featuring Ida. Of all my creations, I think I'm proud of her the most because she resonates with readers.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers?
When Mark Edwards compared HOPE'S PEAK to True Detective and Stephen King, my day was made because those were precisely the influences I was channelling when I wrote it.
Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents? If so, what are they?
I am an excellent cook. I also dabble in art and cover design. Nothing worse than a shoddy book cover!
What do you love most about the writing process?
All of it. Even the tough stuff. Being able to create satisfies me.
What do you hate most about the writing process?
That I'm not faster, that I can't get onto paper all the plots and stories I have in my head. It's a case of my fingers not being able to keep up with my brain.
Of all the characters you've created, which is your favorite and why?
Again, Ida. She's never far from my mind when it comes to writing a solo story featuring her.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I work in retail, and have for about 15 years.
Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Hopefully I've quit the day job, and can write full-time. I'd like to be turning out at least 3 novels a year, if that happens.
What character in your story are you most likely to get along with?
All of 'em. I think readers of 'ADELE' will feel the same way, too.
What would the main character in your story have to say about you?
I think they'll be pretty shocked that I'm not lined-up for the Man Booker Prize, to be honest . . . . . . . . . (joking)
Tony Healeyis the bestselling author of Hope’s Peak, the first book in his Harper and Lane series. It was the 17th bestselling novel of 2016 on Amazon and had over a quarter of a million readers. The sequel, Storm’s Edge, released the 10th October, 2017. Both are published by Thomas and Mercer.
Tony’s fiction has appeared alongside such award-winning authors as Alan Dean Foster and Harlan Ellison. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Sussex, England, and is at work on his next novel. He is represented by his agent Sharon Pelletier, of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management, New York.
Stay tuned to hear more from Carol Monda, the narrator of ADELE, coming soon in a future post.