Today I'd like to welcome Byddi Lee, author of “March to November” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh, Ireland, and moved to Belfast to study Biology at Queen’s University when she was 18. In 2002 she took a sabbatical from teaching and travelled round the world for two years, writing blogs about her adventures as she went. She returned to Ireland in 2004 and resumed teaching. In 2008 she and her husband moved to San Jose, California where she made writing a full-time career. Besides being a novelist, Byddi is also a Master Gardener. She writes a blog on life as an Irish gardener and traveller living in California called, “We didn’t come here for the grass.” She also gives talks and classes on gardening.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
If you mean “save” as in “save life” then yes, though I would have a hard time with taking another person’s life in the process. I’d have to consider if the other person is an evil overlord or an innocent child. I’ve no problem doing away with an evil overlord to save a loved one but sacrificing a child? No, and I think my loved ones would be with me on that.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Truly living means to experience emotions – joy, fear, love, lust, despair. Truly living is like when you turn up the contrast and enhance the color saturation on your photograph. On the other hand, you can be alive, with your heart beating, but feeling nothing, experiencing nothing. That is just being alive, as opposed to truly living.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
The voices in my head! The human condition is a funny old bag of tricks. I enjoy trying to express sadness, longing, and suffering of any kind, but also want to fill people up with enjoyable emotions like love, delight and happiness. I want to encourage people to laugh. I like to point out irony and ponder those twists where life seems to fold back on itself. I think I have a deep-seated need to be heard and writing gives me that outlet.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
When I was a kid, I used to think that people had children so they’d have someone to boss around and do the dishes and switch channels on the TV. Now we have remote controls and dishwashers, kids are fairly obsolete. Perhaps it’s a genetics experiment! People just want to see what the baby will look like, as a cross between them and the person they love.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book"March to November" ?
The biggest challenge in creating my book was convincing my American critiquing group to accept the “Irishisms” in the book. It’s set in Belfast, Northern Ireland and we have a unique culture and use the English language in a very distinctive way. There were some raised eyebrows where black humor in dire circumstances was employed.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself. Change what you can about yourself, to be a better person and don’t get hung up on what can’t be improved. Remember to accept that we are all only human. Forgiveness is paramount to survival, forgiveness of one another and self forgiveness.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "March to November" ?
Everything thing that happens in “March to November,” takes place between the months of March and November. Once the inciting incident occurs in March, the story barrels towards its climax in November, so I liked the double use of the word “March” as a verb as well as the noun. It gave a sense of momentum.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
I handle personal criticism depending upon the manner in which it is offered. If it is a friend or a loved one pointing out something I do badly, and they gently suggest a better alternative, then I’m happy to embrace it. If it’s a hater just being mean (and I’m lucky to come across that very rarely) then I might stew inside, but I’ll pretend like I don’t care. I will examine the criticism, but if it’s unfair I’ll work at ignoring it. That might take a while. I will fantasize witty retorts and revenge which I’ll most likely use in my writing but never act upon. I can be a very angry pacifist!
No.9 Why should people read your book?
It’s entertaining. It engages the reader because the characters are realistic and most people can connect with them and feel the emotions that direct the action in the story. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will leave you with a book hangover. You’ll miss hanging out with the characters when the story ends, which is why I had to write a short story sequel for Christmas as a “gift” to the fans. It’s available on my website for free, from December 20th 2015, and it does contain spoilers, so you should read the book first. Also people should read this book if they are interested in modern Irish life and culture.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Because nature abhors a vacuum, I think. Nothing is hard to describe and impossible to quantify. But if you think about it, there is always something going on even if you don’t know about it. If nothing is going on and you don’t know about it then it’s not going on, right? So therefore there is always something rather than nothing!
Thank you Byddi :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out “March to November” on
Five people. Eight months.
Lives end. Lives begin.
March to November navigates the entangled points of view of Tracey Duggan and her circle of friends and foes in modern-day Belfast, Ireland as they struggle with bereavement, broken marriages, broken dreams and broken minds.
Belfast is not the city of bombs and bullets of their childhood, but it’s still full of trouble for these five as they alternately walk, run and stumble along the road toward a shocking finale.