Watch the Video Pitch for A LIFE SINGULAR:
Go to the novel’s website:
Get to know writer Lorraine Pestell:
1. What is your story about?
The six-part novel serial, “A Life Singular”, tells the story of a hugely successful rock star writing his autobiography after the fatal shooting of his wife by a bullet meant for him. It is a journey back through their spectacular life, exploring what it takes to triumph over mental illness, the choices made between right and wrong, and how one affects the other.
“We’re all in a minority of one.” Everyone has a life singular; one, unique, extraordinary.
2. Why should people know about yourself and your story?
I’m a 53-year-old Londoner who has travelled the world as an IT professional, having settled in Australia in 1999 and now living in Melbourne, “the world’s most liveable city”! I have suffered from chronic clinical depression since primary school, developing constant suicidal tendencies during my teens. These symptoms were exaggerated by a violent marriage in my early twenties and several other challenging events thereafter, and I was diagnosed with Compound Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder about ten years ago.
Living life as someone with very low resilience, I realised that bullies, sociopaths and other people who seek power and domination are drawn to people like me, some even unknowingly. I learned to use writing as therapy as a teenager, often saying it was the only place where I could truly be myself.
The original idea for “A Life Singular” was born out of an adolescent love story between a rock guitarist and a pop singer, since I had grand ambitions to become a musician at this naïve stage of life! However, as my life lurched from worse to worser, I used my characters to delve into social issues in order to make sense of a world I long to leave.
After a failed suicide attempt in 2003, several friends encouraged me to write my own autobiography. Instead, I decided to get serious about publishing “A Life Singular”, and Part One was released in June 2013. I’m currently mid-way through Part Five, which is due for release in March 2016. I have two main goals for my writing: first, to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and make a success of their lives; and second and much more important, to encourage non-sufferers to understand, support and even love us in our quest to live in a hostile world.
3. How long have you been writing stories?
I have always loved the written word and enjoyed studying modern languages in school. As an introverted teenager, I developed a fascination for the backstory, and my first forays into writing were pseudo-journalistic pieces based on news bulletins documenting criminal or otherwise odd behaviour, and also the outrageous lifestyles of the rich and famous. I wondered what hidden traits or beliefs made people behave the way they did, understanding from my own experience that what’s on the surface is rarely the truth.
It wasn’t until my own life became segregated between the interior and exterior me that I turned to writing my life’s work in an attempt to make sense of life.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
“Crash” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375679/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) because it’s all about the backstory. We never know what drives people, and there’s usually a very good reason for why they do the things they do…
5. Who would you like to collaborate with on a creative project?
Like many authors, I enjoy the solitude of writing, so the thought of collaborating is kind of daunting! However, I would enjoy being part of a team of open-minded, tolerant people who accepted difference as an advantage rather than a flaw.
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
One! And that’s not finished yet. I hope to publish Part Six of “A Life Singular” by the end of 2016, which will see the story end in contemporary times.
7. What motivated you to write this story?
As mentioned in earlier questions, I experience almost constant discrimination and stigma due to my mental illness, whether at work, from family and friends or just in daily life. I wanted to highlight to readers that we’re not dangerous people and we can contribute to the world very actively if we are not forced to be something we’re not.
After I was found and “saved” from death by a well-meaning friend, I made a promise to my devastated parents that I wouldn’t make another attempt on my life until after they pass away. Therefore, I’m now left in no-man’s land for the foreseeable future, since they are both in alarmingly sound health!
As with any social justice issue, it’s much easier to deliver a direct message to those who already believe, i.e. preaching to the converted. No matter whether we’re talking about inequality in the context of race, sexual orientation, religious conviction, socio-economic factors, etc., it is difficult to reach the consciences of those who hold the majority position (normally white, straight, extrovert and evangelistic, physically-able and mentally-resilient stereotypes).
Therefore, wrapping up my messages in the universal theme of love and using our obsession with celebrity and stardom, I hope to reach readers who would not normally show an interest in helping those less fortunate.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
Well! Firstly, I never have a problem with writer’s block! I have great difficulty stemming the flow of ideas while I’m doing my fuller-than-full-time job, and frequently wake to the alarm surrounded by yellow sticky notes with plot ideas and inter-character conversations which come to me during the sleepless nights.
As with most PTSD sufferers, I have regular nightmares, and I have learned to relax by having my characters converse in my head (whacky, I know ). Some of my best passages of dialogue come to me this way!
My routine usually depends on how soon I can walk and feed my dog after work, and whether I have any volunteering or chores to do, but I hope to sit down at the computer at around 8pm on a weeknight and write until around 10:30. A good weekend is two 14-hour stretches of solid writing!
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Interesting question to ask someone with a death-wish! I love my dog, a rescued psycho-killer Belgian Shepherd who needs as much rehabilitation and solitude as I do. I am an advocate for mentally-healthy workplaces, and have strong views on all types of fundamentalism which results in alienation based on difference.
10. What influenced you to have your story made into a video pitch?
I hope to reach a wide audience with my story because I believe it can help to make the world a more peaceful place. As an introvert who lives on a continent the size of North America but with only 24 million inhabitants, I value the assistance of those better positioned to pitch my work to the larger markets.
Also, I would love one day to have “A Life Singular” made into a television series. That would be something worth living to see.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
(1) Write from the heart! It’s a bit of a cliché, but I have heard from so many readers who love the honesty and depth of my writing. If you have something important to say, don’t wrap it up in too many euphemisms or sanitise it until its impact is lost.
(2) The writing is the easy part. Most of the effort is in promoting your book once it’s done! My advice is not to underestimate this, given the enormous number of new authors trying the self-publishing revolution.