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The Strength To Carry On

Michelle Shine Author Interview

Song for Ria follows a grieving mother who goes in search of answers to her daughter’s passing by following in her footsteps. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I was trying to write something else, something genre oriented. However, I couldn’t seem to stumble upon characters that fully engaged me. Then someone sent me a link to Tori Amos performing a Kate Bush song. I am a huge Kate Bush fan and usually don’t like other artist’s covers of her work but I found the Tori Amos video intriguing and investigated further, as I always do with things that interest me. In one of Tori’s interviews she said how devastated she was, having been a child prodigy and having found herself in her late twenties still performing in hotel lobbies and gay clubs with one failed rock album behind her. She decided, at that point, to continue with her night jobs and write music just for herself. Of course, the result was Little Earthquakes, her top selling debut album, but the idea of writing without any ambition for the work, spoke to me and Alison arrived that day, fully formed in her home in the English countryside, or at least that’s how it seemed to me at the time. In retrospect, she was probably there the whole time, waiting for me to arrive.

Your characters are intriguing and well-developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you for saying that. To be honest, I’m not a plotter or a planner, I just write and let the characters pull me along on their journey. Having said that, my own life experiences have definitely informed Song for Ria.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I put it out into the ether sometime ago that I would like to write about the life of a superstar who died too young. Those documentaries about Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix, James Dean, Whitney Houston etcetera, have always interested me. Especially Whitney Houston, whose mother, Cissy, was interviewed by Oprah one year after her daughter’s death. I remember wondering at the time how Cissy found the strength to carry on.

In 2009 when my soulmate died suddenly, tragically, and far too young, it gave me some insight into how, along with the devastation, loss has the power to add depth to a person’s perspective on life.. I pulled on my two personal experiences of studying under a North American shaman and staying with the Hopis when exploring that intricate theme in Song for Ria.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m editing an historical novel at present. It’s set in Israel in 1989 and explores the political arena as experienced by a family of first, second and third generation holocaust survivors and a woman named Rahima who lives in Daesh, a Palestinian town in the West Bank.

At present, I don’t have an agent or an ongoing publishing deal.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Twitter | Website

‘A penetrating view into what it means to grieve, and then to heal … a captivating story’Karen HarradineTalented composer Alison Connaught has spent her career writing music for big names, but when her actress daughter, Ria, dies from an overdose, Alison is numb and can no longer compose.Haunted by the feeling that she has somehow let Ria down, Alison searches for answers, first during an intense stay with a Hopi shaman and then by travelling to Hollywood to try to piece together the many parts of Ria’ s life that have so far eluded her.As she meets her daughter’ s friends, colleagues and therapists, Alison finally begins to understand the realities of Ria’ s life, opening the door to self expression and a different kind of music, inspired by stirred/raw feelings and the spirit of Ria.Michelle Shine’ s skill as a storyteller brings Alison’ s thoughts and actions to life in this visceral and deeply moving tale of grief, regret and ultimately, hope.

Song for Ria 

Ria was an award-winning actress who had everything to live for, so why would she want to give it all up? Alison, who is an award-winning composer, is grieving the loss of her daughter Ria from an ‘accidental suicide’. She’s utterly shocked and heartbroken. She’s grieving and simultaneously trying to save her marriage. She is on a hunt, trying to know more about the last few months of her daughter’s life, hung up on it so much that it is beginning to consume her.

This emotionally-resonant novel follows her grief and her effort to gain some clarity so that she can move on. It is a story that is sharp, observant and completely heart wrenching. This beautiful journey takes readers into the mind of a grieving mother. It exceptionally depicts the confusing emotions of Alison and her husband. I feel that Alison is a character that anyone can relate to, even if they have not faced the unfortunate circumstance of going through what she did. The author’s excellent writing will help anyone connect with the character, if not the situation.

While the story has much depth, the book is written in such an easy to read style that I completed the story within a couple of days. The characters felt authentic and compelling, so much so that I was irked by the lack of complete understanding from her husband’s side, and the sad part is that often for people it’s the reality.

Song for Ria explores a topic as depressing as grief but does so through a beautifully written story so that it will be approachable to many, and understood by all readers.

Pages: 354 | ASIN: B0B99N1GXL

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