Thursday, April 15, 2010

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show + 3 questions with author, Frank Delaney

The year was 1932.

Ben MacCarthy and his father were heading out to watch the circus that had come to town. It was called the Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show. Ben can remember sitting in the stands, watching the show…his father laughing really hard at the talking ventriloquist, Blarney. As the show was ending, Ben’s father turns to him and tells him that he won’t be returning home with him. He is going to stay on with the circus. Ben returns home alone. His mother tasks Ben with tracking down and bringing his father home. Ben travels all over the country side, following the circus. Will Ben be successful at his mission?

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is one of those books that only comes along every once in a while. When it does and you ha better make sure you have the pleasure of reading it. I finished this book in one afternoon. I found myself instantly transported back in time with Ben. It was like I was walking in his shoes. All of the characters featured in this book had lots of depth and were very intriguing. The circus may seem like the happiest show on Earth but behind the tent walls is loneliness. Mr. Frank Delaney holds a winning ticket with Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show.

With over 21 books written, how do you find ways to come up with new material?

This excellent question made me laugh out loud! It's kind of like riding a bicycle - if you think about it, you might fall off. My life - my inner life - is spent examining and either accepting (in my notebooks) or rejecting the many, many ideas that I get each day for novels, non-fiction, stories, movies, plays. Reading is an immense stimulus, as is travel - each is essential to a writer. Most of all, people - whom I observe, meet or otherwise perceive - provide a well that seems never to dry up. Gossip, family stories, social encounters - there's potential in each one and sifting them is one of the joys and delights of my life.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about writing books?

The challenge - the challenge to get it right, to tell the story in a pure and clear way that engages the reader, and takes them with you into emotional territory, intellectual lands they've never visited before, places of the heart and soul. The desire to achieve clarity is the greatest challenge, to write sentences that land the story in the middle of the reader's spirit as sweetly and definitely as an excellent pilot landing an aircraft. And the desire to cover the distance, to sustain the energy at book-length, to retain the reader's interest, is the greatest challenge. As is the need to make characters so clear and interesting and finally compelling that the human condition is there to be examined, scrutinized, sympathized with, empathized with, loved, hated, embraced - while all the while reminding the readers of their own humanity. That's the greatest challenge - and you'll notice that I've described each one of them as "the greatest challenge" and so they are; the whole ball-game of writing books is the greatest challenge!

What makes Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show different from most of the novels currently on shelves and why should readers check it out?

I've tried and tried to find a book in the marketplace at the moment to which I could compare Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show - and I can't come up with one. It begins with a theatrical device - getting all the characters onstage, so that when the action opens out we know who everyone is. There are elements of Tristram Shandy in it; there are elements of rites-of-passage novels - Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann contributed some influences, I think. There's considerable political satire, and what I think - I hope - truly distinguishes it, is a deliberately conversational style, as though the story were being told by an oral storyteller, with asides and digressions. I chose this for three reasons: I come from a background in Ireland where everybody to this day tells stories of all kinds; secondly, a conversational style might be interesting to readers who live daily with cable television talk-and-politics shows, and radio talk shows; and thirdly, I wanted the book to have an original feel and yet be true to itself and its historical background. Therefore, readers should check it out because it will, I think - and to judge from the reviews - prove a book that's difficult to put down, yet rich enough to be rewarding, and different enough to be escapist. But don't just take my word for it; read the reviews on my website; and the many, many blogs that have commented favorably. And thank you for asking!

1 comment:

LisaMM said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, Cheryl! Thanks for being on the tour- we really appreciate it. Frank's answers were really interesting.