Cara Finegan comes from Newry in Northern Ireland, right on the border. She graduated with a B.Ed Hons degree in English and Drama in 1995 and has been a Primary School teacher ever since. She has three children and surrounds herself with as many wonderfully wicked women as she possibly can. These women manage to keep her sane.
Cara has written stories and poems from a young age but put writing on hold for a number of years to follow her dream of becoming a burlesque and pole performer. She opened a dance studio and still has her own Burlesque dance troupe. After a few detouring years in dance she decided to spend more time on her writing.
Her first novel Don’t Call Me Baby, a domestic noir, is currently agented by Alice Lutyens from Curtis Brown Literary Agency. Cara is now working on her fourth novel and enjoys trying to use her many travel experiences as a back drop for her writing. As she is a lover of crime fiction and psychological thrillers her stories tend to have dark undercurrents. Usually, however, the female characters come out on top.
We asked Cara a few questions to get to know her better. Here’s what she had to say:
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I have been writing since…
I have been writing since I could first hold a pen and put words to paper.
My favorite author(s) and book(s)?
Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Margaret Atwood are my all time favourite authors. They both can see the world in so many layers and I haven’t been disappointed by one of their books yet. However ‘The Gargoyle’ by Andrew Davidson is my most read novel.
My journey as a writer:
I’ve always wanted to keep an account of things that have happened and stories that I’ve created, no matter how trivial they seemed to be at the time, so my writing journey began when I was a child. I spent my teenage years writing poetry that no-one would read and then moved into stories and novels. Sadly, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve decided to take myself seriously and begin to do something with my ideas and creative ability. In the last three years I’ve completed three full novels and am nearing the end of my fourth. I’ve managed to bag myself an agent too which was a massive, exhilarating surprise to me and one which spurred me on.
Why should we read you?
As an avid reader of crime fiction, psychological noir and all things twisty and dark I became increasingly annoyed with the lack of strong, fierce, female protagonists who didn’t become the victims by the time the finale was heralded. I decided that I wanted to produce real, flawed female characters who evolved into stronger, more resourceful beings despite their torment and harsh realities. Female characters who didn’t end up dead on a metal slab in the morgue.
My favorite genre to read / write:
Crime Fiction will always be my go to genre to read. I always come away learning something more from the police procedural. However, my own writing veers more towards the Psychological Thriller and Domestic Noir.
How was your experience writing for this theme?
I attempted to get a darker twist on such a ‘pretty’ theme because that’s what I enjoy writing. No matter how beautiful and ‘fragrant’ something seems there’ll always be something to reach for below the surface. When I was writing my story I was still imagining what would happen for the character beyond the actual cessation of my writing.
What advice would you give young and aspiring writers?
Keep reading, keep writing. There’s a story in every mundane act or conversation we experience. Take yourself seriously.
Here’s an excerpt from Cara’s winning story Jasmine that’s now published in Wafting Earthy:
I was standing outside Lidl, two meters away from the masked person in front of me, when the smell of jasmine wafted into my nostrils. I turned my head left, then right trying to sniff where it came from. I glanced along the queue, it snaked right along the shopfront and around the corner. People standing on markers, scrolling through their phones, making small talk with those around them. Again. Just a whisper of a scent. That nostalgic torment of remembrance that makes you smile before reality knocks you to the ground. I tilted my head catching it on the breeze.
I breathed it in and was transported back to Port El Kantaoui. My honeymoon. That magical first trip away from home. Two weeks. Just me and him. Our first time spent together. Living, breathing, sleeping, and looking after each other. No family, no friends. Tunisia of all places. A beautiful, tragic dichotomy. Arid, poverty ridden deserts and lush jasmine filled hotel gardens. Whose marble floors and walls and ceilings made the shacks and hungry children disappear. It’s funny how easily blindness materializes when we’re distracted by ornate facades. The pretense that something doesn’t exist because we hide our faces or stick our fingers in our ears la-la-la-ing.
Why you should prefer writing contests to anthology submissions – WriteFluence