Marissa's novel, The Bittersweet Vine, has just been published by Thames River Press.
What inspired you to write The Bittersweet Vine?
After finishing my first novel, Goa Traffic, I was keen to start writing a second. One day, bored and looking for inspiration, whilst sitting at my desk, I thought to myself, What if I was abducted and woke in my bed with not so much as a hair out of place? The thought got my creative juices going and the idea for The Bittersweet Vine grew from there. The book also examines the complexities of relationships between sisters, and having a sister myself, I knew I could explore this to its full potential!
How did you come up with the title?
Bittersweet Vine is a plant which is said to represent truth. The main character finds this plant growing around a house shrouded in deceit. The plant, and what it represents, reflects the main theme of the novel. Bitter-sweet is also good way to describe several of the relationships Maria, the protagonist, has in the novel.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to take away what they will from The Bittersweet Vine – even if it’s just a book to escape from reality for a couple of hours. I would like to think that the book prompts readers to reflect on their own sibling relationships as well as making them wonder whom they would trust in their darkest hour.
What books have influenced your life most?
I have always been an avid reader and I am sure reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a youngster ignited my desire to write books loaded with suspense.
The first adult fiction novel I remember reading was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. It had me hooked. I loved the description and plot line and I dreamed of seeing the world in such vivid detail as the author did. It also cemented my love for reading.
When reading The Brontes by Juliet Barker I was fascinated by the determination and ambition the sisters had. This has had quite an influence on me and I find myself today a pretty determined person.
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a book that I read more recently. This book made me want to pick up a pen and write. It portrays the wealth divide in India with such realism and wit that I found myself desperately unhappy when I finished the book. I wanted more and I wanted to create books like Adiga did.
If you had to choose a mentor, who would it be?
Can I pick more than one?
I am currently writing another thriller, Poison in the Water, and I would love to be mentored by Sophie Hannah for this genre. I am sure she could give me some great ideas and more importantly critique my work!
I am also writing a light-hearted detective series set in rural Goa, and Alexander McCall Smith would be a perfect mentor for this. His No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series has really been an inspiration.
Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest?
I recently purchased Rachel Abbot’s best selling novel, Only The Innocent, on my Kindle. It was a thriller I just couldn’t put down. I will definitely be buying more of her books. I also enjoyed reading Saffina Desforge’s Sugar and Spice. The e-publishing revolution has been great for giving new authors a chance to get their work out there.
What are your current projects?
I am currently writing the first draft of Poison in the Water. It’s a novel set between the glamour of London, sleepy Thailand and the bright lights of Hong Kong. The main character, Celeste Renshaw, is living her dream but she knows that the higher you climb, the farther you have to fall. When Celeste stumbles on a dark secret her estranged husband has been keeping, she realizes too late that she is trapped and there is only one way out.
I am also working on a lighthearted detective series entitled The Chupplejeep Mysteries, set in rural Goa. The book follows the lives of the villagers and the somewhat bizarre cases Detective Chupplejeep and his assistant Pankaj have to solve.
My friend, Urmi Kenia, and I are also working on a collection of short stories to accompany beautiful photographs which have been taken around India. It will be an e-book published on Kindle later this year, called Indian Diaries.
The Bittersweet Vine (ISBN: 978-0-85728-094-7, Thames River Press and e-book) is available now at Amazon or other on-line stores and in selected bookshops. For more information see www.marissadeluna.com
Find Marissa de Luna on Facebook www.facebook.com/marissadelunaauthor