Trials and tribulations of becoming an author
The first attempt was not at all encouraging.
Merryn Corcoran knew a book agent and asked them to take a look at the novel she had been working on.
It was set in an Italian village during World War II. It spanned decades and had romance and action and sadness.
’’Don’t give up your day job,’’ came the reply.
It did not
the Christchurch- born, nursingtrained Corcoran who had spent the last 20 years, off and on, in London. She got herself an editor.
’’It was quite eye-opening – how you read a book and how you construct it are quite different,’’ she says.
Corcoran left school at 16 – she didn’t understand she was dyslexic, just thought she ‘‘ was a bit dumb’’.
She went into business, opening boutiques in London and on the way becoming a well-connected organiser of the Unicef celebrity ball. But she always wanted to write.
Corcoran had a health scare and her husband suggested she sell the businesses and have a go at writing. ‘‘I was terrified,’’ she says. But they moved to Menton, on the border of Italy and France where Katherine Mansfield once lived. They lived among mediaeval villages perched on hills.
One such town appeared oddly quiet. Castel Vittorio was a 14th century medieval village.She felt a sadness there she could not explain.
Corcoran later discovered it had been the site of a massacre by German troops on local villagers only months before the end of the war.
Her 76-year-old French teacher relayed the story of her father who was taken by the Gestapo, and melded those two stories into her book, The Silent Village.
Corcoran was home in Christchurch when the February 2011 earthquake struck and knew the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder all too well.
She learnt how a tragedy can permeate a society and have a lasting impact that is never quite forgotten.
It allowed her, she says, to write more deeply about her subject.
‘‘It gives you a whole different slant on how slow the recovery is.’’
Writing a book had been 99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration, she says.
Fairfax NZ News