Sutton-based Author Releases New Book

Sutton author Orla Owen’s new book ‘Christ On A Bike’ has been described as, ‘Black Mirror meets Tales of the Unexpected with shades of Shirley Jackson’. As she heads out on a national book tour for the launch (with the London event at Waterstones already sold out), she tells us more…

Tell us more about the plot and the characters?

“Christ On a Bike is about a character called Cerys. She receives an unexpected inheritance, but there are rules attached. Three simple rules that must be followed.

As she settles into her new life, she begins to feel trapped: the past is ever-present and her sister, Seren, is jealous of her luck. Cerys convinces herself that the villagers are watching her and, desperate to control her own future, she tries to break free.”

Where did the inspiration come from for the book?

“Out on a walk, I was thinking about wills and inheritances, and that led to me wondering, what if you got an inheritance that should make your dreams come true, but it doesn’t. What simple things could make it more of a curse than a godsend? And how would your family and friends react?”

What would you like readers to take away from the book?

“My main hope is that they enjoy it; that they want to turn the pages and find out what happens next. I hope they believe in the characters, care about them, and get caught up in their lives and story.”

How did you approach the writing process?

“I started off thinking about the main character: her life, what could change it, and who might like or hate that happening. I love Wales (my husband is Welsh), and have wanted to write a book that’s set there for a long time. This story fitted that; I pictured Cerys on one of my favourite beaches in West Wales and started writing. I didn’t write a detailed plot – I never do – just a few thoughts about the beginning and ending. Then I wrote a few thousand words to make sure I had a strong enough voice for the story – without that, I can’t write.”

Are any of your books set locally?

“Wimbledon is mentioned in Christ On A Bike, and I have an idea for a story set locally, that I’d like to develop – it’s early days but I have a strong first paragraph and voice for it, so watch this space…”

How do you develop your characters?

“I think about them all the time. I go for runs and walks with my headphones on, with songs I relate to that character, and imagine them in different scenes, work out how they’d react, what they’d say. They then create their own story. I improvise with them, with their lives and relationships. Apart from one or two main characters, I don’t plan who will be in a book; they all appear as I’m writing.”

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

“Write because you really, really want to tell that story. Write more. Edit. A lot. Edit for as many or more hours than you write. Put your manuscript away for a few months at a time, a few times, between edits. When you come back to it, you’ll always see ways of making it sharper and cleaner. Read it out loud to sense the rhythm and the pace. Write for the love of the characters you’ve created and because you love to write. And if you are submitting it to agents and publishing houses, be working on your next manuscript that you’re even more excited about.”

Are there any local places you go to write, or any local writing groups or resources you can recommend?

“I’ve written and edited in local cafes such as Waterstones and The Sound Lounge in Sutton, which both have a lovely, relaxed feel to them. I never joined a writing group but have made lots of friends on BookTwitter from all over the country and world, which is wonderful – everyone is incredibly supportive and encouraging of each other.”