In Off-Island, Marlene Hauser gives an emotional voice and face to women who have experienced abortion. This is a hot topic that everyone seems to have opinions about and I know I cannot wait to read this novel. Thank you to Ann Cater and Random Things Tours for organising this tour and to Marlene Hauser for providing a fabulous Q and A content to host.
A woman’s right to choose: Marlene Hauser’s debut novel focuses on the individual and not the “issue”.
Abortion and the stigma surrounding it have always fuelled controversy and strong opinions, but how often are the women involved forgotten about because of the heatedness of the issue surrounding them? In Marlene Hauser’s emotionally-moving and uplifting novel, Off-Island, she concentrates on the woman herself and the ripples that spread out beyond the choice.
“My book is distinguished from others in the market because it focuses on trying to describe the unexpected emotional pain of abortion and the healing process,” explains Marlene, “As well as the high cost of not allowing a woman who has had an abortion to say ‘Ouch!’ Sometimes it may limit the rest of her life.”
Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. When she realises she’s pregnant, the decision whether she and her boyfriend want the baby or not bring a crossroads to their relationship, and ultimately Krista rejects all support, isolating herself at a time when she needs most support. And when she returns home, she discovers she doesn’t know her family history as well as she imagined.
“I wrote this book to give voice to what I felt was a missing voice in the annals of fiction,” says Marlene. “My inspiration was the women who I met who still talked of their experiences in a whisper or not at all, as well as press accounts that outlined the same.”
Gripping, relatable and utterly needed in a society that is still inclined to judge, Off-Island fulfils a need to educate the uninformed and as a voice for those who are still afraid to stand up.
Q and A with Marlene Hauser
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Hands down, it is the fun I have participating in the story as it unfolds—never what I original expected. I love meeting the characters, one by one, who originate as an idea and go on to become 3D. I enjoy working with editors that spin a character or a plot line in an entirely different direction, forcing me to reweave the tale. I love the surprise, the adventure.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Very tough question, but in the final analysis, in Off-Island—I would have to say Krista because she comes of age through the unexpectedly difficult and emotionally painful experience of abortion. I do equally enjoy her grandmother Ilsa.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea, tea & more tea. English breakfast with lemon slices, jasmine green with lemon slices, hojika, kukicha, rooibos, earl grey, white… The list is endless. Gunpowder.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write first thing in the morning, before anything else, in PJs, crossed-legged on my bed with my laptop propped up on a pedestal of pillows with both my Jack Russell (Leche) and Bengal (Presto) curled up beside me.
How do you research your books?
Research comes from first hand experiences, the life experience of close friends and acquaintances, reading extensively on a subject that intrigues me, watching documentaries and of course the ever ready Google. I also ask more knowledgeable readers than myself to review my work and make suggestions.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I usually have an idea, rough outline—loose beginning, middle & end—Act I, II & III, and then I get going and the story does its own thing. Afterwards, with an editor stirring the pot, mystery abounds and all outlines go out the window. So a bit of both, plotter and pantser.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Does New Zealand count? Just kidding. Beautiful country. I tend to live in the fictional world that I am creating at any one moment, the book I am working on at the time. I like to revisit places where I’ve actually lived and loved.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would befriend some of Shakespeare’s romantic/tragic women, particularly Juliet and Ophelia. I would say “No. Stop, don’t do it.” And then they would go on to triumph and live amazing lives.
Author Bio – Marlene Hauser
Marlene Hauser is a professional writer who lives in Oxford and a member of the Society of Authors. She has edited The Writer’s New York City Source Book and also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.