Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors..
Recently, we interviewed Mireille Parker about her writing and her recently released book, Love Queen: The Making of a Master, a lively portrait of a woman who came into her own by reflecting on her past relationships. (Read the review here.)
Mireille Parker (1979 – present) is an Indian Australian author from Fremantle, West Australia, who has devoted herself to writing for the past 15 years. Journaling since age 11, inspired by The Babysitter Club and Judy Blume books, Mireille wanted to be a writer since discovering Anais Nin in the film Henry and June on daytime TV while at uni, aged 20. She graduated from The University of West Australia, majoring in English literature and psychology, with a history minor (The Vikings and Ancient Greeks), but it was during a stay in Mumbai in 2003, while recording Hindi vinyl in a sound studio, that a book started coming out of her! At age 28, she went to Murdoch University to study the craft of creative writing and has been practicing ever since. Wonderlust, a novel about a travel agent from Perth who goes to Lucerne, Switzerland, on a cultural adventure and finds love in a creative life, was her first published book. Mireille was an English as a Second Language teacher for 18 years and a life coach for two, but quit both due to metastatic breast cancer and brain surgery. Mireille’s passions are many. She is a 3/6 Splenic Projector, a Capricorn with a Pisces moon and Aries ascending, and has been a hip-hop dancer in New York and a Bollywood dancer in Switzerland. Writing, however, is the love of her life. Love Queen: The Making of a Master is the first in a series of at least five books.
Instagram : http://www.instagram.com/mireilleparker_xx
What inspired you to actually sit down and write your experiences in Love Queen: The Making of a Master?
It’s just as Love Queen begins. I was so down and had nothing really going on in my life, feeling like every decision had been a mistake and life was so much better before, so I started writing my story to give me something to do and a way of enjoying my life. I’d realised that when I was always striving for more, I was actually living my dream life writing my novel. Writing was my interesting life! When I finished the novel, Wonderlust, in 2015, I never wanted to write such a long book again because it had taken six years and then I didn’t have the time and energy to pursue publishing it. But my mum encouraged me to write my story because “you already know the plot.” It did feel very synchronistic and like a dream the way my story had unfolded. So, I began it, to give me a purpose and structure to my day too, intending to finish it in 90 days. Instead, it also took six years and I ended up writing the other five in the Love Queen series in that time as well. But for the first year at least, I was going to call it Things to Come: A Memoir (because I was still kind of down about my life) but somewhere in there, between my past and current dating life, I realised that Love Queen: The Making of a Master was the gift I’d been given.
A big question that you explore in Love Queen: The Making of a Master is about how to create happiness in unconventional or unforeseen ways. What has been the best thing you’ve learned to do to help yourself when you’re feeling at your lowest?
First, we have to feel our feelings because the depth of our sadness is the same degree as the peak of our happiness. And, as I go into in Love Queen, if we don’t feel our emotions, they’re still there, under the surface, weighing us down and looking for an opportunity to escape in eruptions and outbursts. But a lot of the time, we get stuck in emotions because we are future-tripping or being triggered by things that have happened in the past. So, once we’ve cried or yelled into a pillow or thrown a tantrum in our bedroom or simply felt the emotion in the body (there’s a free how-to guide on my site at www.mireilleparker.com/emotion), then we must train our brains to focus on our blessings. If we compare ourselves to people worse off than us, we will naturally feel grateful. That’s the secret to happiness. Do it every day as a practice, like in a journal, like me in Love Queen, then we are creating neural programming and our brains will filter life through the belief of “I am lucky” and we will see more and more evidence of it. Many people and research promote gratitude as a daily practice, but I find it’s hard when we’re really down and comparing ourselves to everyone succeeding on the internet. This is the way to change our minds when we’re really low.
What is your greatest failure? What did you learn from that failure?
My greatest failure is my marriage. But I learned from it that I, like most of us, didn’t have the tools to be happy in a relationship. It’s crazy that we don’t study this more and just expect to be good at it. Most of us are just fumbling through. That’s why I wanted to share what I learnt in this way. I’d definitely be much better at it now because I’ve learnt so much in the last eight years. And I’ve put it into practice in various relationships. Not only that, but also what to actually look for in a partner. Love is logistics, for one, as I share in Love Queen. I could say a lot more but don’t want to spoil the book.
If you could only choose one thing, what do you most hope readers will take away from reading Love Queen: The Making of a Master?
That everything happens for a reason and things are always working out for us, even though we can’t see the bigger picture yet. Patiently and persistently the whole universe is constantly changing, so keep the faith, even when you feel like there are no options. Just be happy anyway and Life will work it out.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
I love the journaling parts because the writing is the rawest and most beautiful. Though I also love some of the lines from the narrative parts – I can be pretty funny. I guess if I had to choose my favourite part, though, I’d say the ending.
Journaling has been a part of your life long before the writing of Love Queen: The Making of a Master. What drew you to the practice of journaling, and what do you think is the most valuable takeaway it has given you?
Yes, I was eleven when I started and, thankfully, I still have that journal and I’ll use it in the prequel to Love Queen. I imagine I learned about it from The Babysitters Club books or Judy Blume and wanted to emulate that. Growing up, I didn’t know what I felt or thought until I wrote it in my journal so that was, and still is, the biggest takeaway. It helps me get clarity on my feelings and thoughts and then to focus on the beauty of life, to celebrate and remember. It makes me good company to myself and also to other people because I’m not going over my problems like a broken record.
In addition to journaling, you studied English and creative writing at university. What kind of writing do you enjoy doing most, and why?
I love auto-fiction, a mix between fiction and autobiography. I love writing memoir-sized stories and having the plot as an unravelling mystery, even though it’s always about relationships. I can only do real-life situations. I don’t enjoy preposterous situations in literature and I don’t have this wild imagination concocting fantastical worlds and characters. I see the beauty in everyday life and so I enjoy writing about this. Truth really is stranger than fiction! Especially when it comes to my life. I love writing simply and learned from Murakami how a word or two, like ‘a simple salad’ or ‘a black coffee’, repeated, can conjure up such emotion. I also don’t like to give too much detail in description so the reader can use their own imagination. And I love commentary that is so true it’s funny. When I studied creative writing, my favourite type of writing was satire and also my favourite genre to read, like The Great Gatsby (and all of Fitzgerald’s work), The Virgin Suicides, Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross and Freedom by Jonathon Franzen. That’s why I wrote in Love Queen, “If I was writing fiction again, I’d be exactly the ridiculous type of character that I love to write about.”
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
My dignity. I already have given it up to publish Love Queen, knowing that family and friends are going to read these most intimate details about myself in my journal. But I intentionally made the decision not to shy away from what I wanted to write and include because of who might read it. I am also interested in upturning the Madonna/whore stereotype. Although I hadn’t read Bukowski’s Women till a few years into writing Love Queen, once I had, it felt like a 2022 response to it, with less alcohol. I went to an all-girls private Catholic high school but have been rebellious and into empowerment since I started on relationships and boys at age 15. If I had a child, I’d want them to be more aware and know what I’ve included in Love Queen about the bio-chemistry of sex, love & relationships.
What’s next for you?
I am super excited to start polishing Love Queen’s prequel in mid-January 2023 and intend to publish it mid-year. Then I’ll do the same for the next in the Love Queen series, Dear Phil: A Tale of Two Phils, and plan to have it out by the end of 2023. In 2024, I’ll continue with the rest of the series: The One, The Power and Love Compilation. I really love the process of writing – channelling the creative flow. So, I look forward to all of this and then starting on a new style of book, maybe fiction again. What I do love about writing fiction is that I can be even more irreverent and honest. Let’s see.
Categories: BookView Review Interview
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