The Cosmopolitan Islander An interview with local business woman and writer, Michelle P. Tonnesen, who has just published her debut novel You have been a business consultant for quite a while – why did you decide to write a novel? Words and playing with them have always been a great interest of mine. I have written for many years, but it was primarily nonfiction; academic papers and corporate communication. Then a few years back, I started fiddling with creative writing, and I did a course at London School of Journalism just before moving to the island. I was lucky to become a writer here for Gallery and Agenda, alongside working on my novel. I believe most people have a story in them, but few get the chance to express it. It takes time and dedication – fortunately, I managed to find both in between juggling consulting work and my family too. What is your novel about? The Cosmopolitan Islander is about women’s roles in the 21st century; the juggling act many women face of having to be an executive in the boardroom, mother in the nursery, and domestic goddess in the kitchen – and bedroom. But it’s also about the wider issue of identity in general – men’s too. How you and your perspectives and values develop through life and are influenced by who you meet, what you do, the choices you make, and even where you live. Then it’s about love and sex and the balance between the two. About power and money, and how these impact our lives, careers, hopes, and dreams. It’s about friendships, and how they can develop in the most unexpected ways. And then it is a declaration of love for the Isle of Man! Where did you get your inspiration from? Obviously my own life. I won’t deny that the main character Chloe is my alter ego. She is more extreme in her personality and behaviour, though; has different strengths and weaknesses – and most of her experiences are fictional, of course. The whole cast of characters and the story are inspired by lots of different people and events, real as well as fictional. TV series, films, friends, family, random strangers in the street, park, restaurant or when travelling – they have all inspired me and triggered different scenes and emotions I could channel into my novel.
DO BUSINESS IN STYLE
Is it an autobiography then? No, I would not define it as such. It’s fiction. But every author from Jane Austen to Nora Ephron and Charles Dickens to Stephen King, they have all been inspired by their own lives, drawn from their own experiences, and built their fictional stories and characters on what they know and emotions they have felt. Comedians, songwriters, and scriptwriters do it all the time too. It’s a bit like method acting – you dip into personal memories to be able to imagine fictional what-if scenarios. Who will read your book? Hopefully, everyone! I believe most women – both on and off the island – will be able to identify with the female protagonist in some way or another. But I also think a lot of men can relate to the main male character and his challenges of balancing his work, family, and relationship – the modern man’s roles and society’s expectation of him have changed a lot too. Some people may even find some inspiration in the sex scenes! Sex scenes? Is it another “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Sex is not the main theme of the novel – but as it’s a part of most people’s lives, naturally it’s a central element in the relationships which Chloe develops throughout the story. The recent wave of erotic literature has certainly made it more acceptable to have sex scenes in mainstream literature too – and why shouldn’t it be? Perhaps some people still find it controversial, but I will leave it up to the individual reader to judge. Tell us about the self-publishing route – was it a challenge? It was definitely a steep learning curve! The publishing world in itself is completely new to me. And with so much happening over the last five to ten years in terms of e-books and self-publishing, there is a lot to get your head around. Editing, formatting, covers, copyrights, printing, pricing, marketing, sales – you have to manage it all yourself as an author when you choose this path. But it has been such a fun challenge – and hopefully it will be more financially rewarding too when the copies start flying off the virtual shelves! When is your novel out? It’s out now and available as e-book and paperback on Amazon. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
What if life as you know it was turned upside down? Would you still be the same person? When Chloe is forced to leave behind her cosmopolitan life in London to move to a small island in the Irish Sea, she is faced with a myriad of challenges. How will she and her family adapt to island life? Will she find new friends? What about her career? Most importantly, will the love of Chloe and her husband survive? Join Chloe on her journey through her past and her present to make sense of her life, herself, her hopes, and dreams amid her personal upheaval. The Cosmopolitan Islander is a thrilling story of female roles and identity in the 21st century. It takes the reader from the Isle of Man and around the world, traversing the timeless themes of love, desire, friendship, power, and ambition. Find out more about this exciting new novel on www.facebook.com/ thecosmopolitanislander
Published on Nov 22, 2015
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