Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lisa O'Donnell

Lisa O'Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for The Wedding Gift and, in the same year, was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters Award. A native of Scotland, O'Donnell is now a full-time writer and lives in Los Angeles with her two children.

O'Donnell's first novel, The Death of Bees, is now out in paperback.

From the author's Q & A with Miwa Messer, Director of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program:

You started out as a screenwriter and won a couple of awards early on — the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for The Wedding Gift, which, in the same year was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters Award. What made you shift gears towards writing fiction?

I worked in TV for a while but found myself working on other people's ideas. I wanted to see my own stories come to life and though I considered novel writing I was a little afraid of the medium. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to write something down and when I did I wrote: "Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved". These are the first words Marnie says in The Death of Bees. I must have looked at those words for about 6 months before I had Marnie say something else. I just wasn't sure where I was going to place those words, in the context of a screenplay or a novel? I'm glad I chose a novel.

The voices of your two young protagonists, Marnie who is 15 and Nelly who is 12, seem completely authentic - their fears and joys are distinctly those of teenagers who've just buried their no-good, drug-addicted, alcoholic parents in the backyard of their Glasgow housing development. How did you get inside their minds and hearts?

I knew them already. I am a social gleaner. I listen to people with my eyes as well as my ears and I am fortunate enough to have known all kinds of people in my life, for better or worse. I have known poverty and the challenges that come with it and I have lived in environments where those challenges have affected the lives of others.

I knew many Marnies in my adolescence. I was always drawn to the kind of girl who holes herself up in a cloudy bathroom. I can't deny I was...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa O'Donnell's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Bees.

Writers Read: Lisa O'Donnell.

My Book, The Movie: The Death of Bees.

--Marshal Zeringue