Irena Nieslony has been a freelance writer for the past few years writing articles, short stories and two novels, both of which were murder mysteries. She is now completing her third novel, a thriller. This is an interview taken by Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee, poet-academician from Kolkata and Pooja Sharma writer-reviewer of Jaipur and the answers are replied by the British born Irena Nieslony presently settled in Greece and popularizing the art of writing a new kind of crime fiction in Greece.
“Laura heard the shouting as she came out of the dining room. The ship seemed to be rolling, but she wasn't sure if this was due to an approaching storm or to that extra glass of champagne. She paused in the shadows, slightly afraid, and saw a man and a woman locked in a fierce argument. The music made their voices unclear, but she was certain that they were both very angry at each other. Suddenly, the man grabbed the woman’s hands and pushed her against the rails. At that moment, the ship swayed and Laura lost her balance. When she next looked, the man was walking away and the woman was gone. She panicked and started screaming. Then there was blackness. The next thing she knew, she was waking up in daylight.” – This is how Irena Nieslony started her story ‘Crime’.
The same graceful rendering of facts and weaving a tale of mystery is found not only in her short stories, but also very much in her two popular novels Dangerous Affair or Dead in the Water.
This authoress of Greece was a British by birth, but she lived long years on the island of Crete. Since 2000 she has been in Greece. The versatility of this creative graduate from the University of London is reflected in her multifarious activities as actress, puppeteer and voice-over artiste for a number of years. Office job bored her as it is with all creative persons. In July 2012 she made her debut as a novelist. But before that she has written Crime thrillers.
We are grateful to her for her kind replies to all our questions related to her art of writing crime fiction and her future plans as a writer of thriller as her third novel is going to be one such novel.
Pooja Sharma: Would you like to share some of your childhood memories?
Irena Nieslony: Most of my memories are of my mother. She died when I was thirteen, but we were very close and she has been a strong influence on my life. She was a very sick person, but she had a strong personality and I always remember that she never gave in to her illness and carried on regardless, making my life as fun as possible. She took me to the theatre, cinema, ice skating, museums; and encouraged me to read many good books. She sent me to acting classes which I desperately wanted to attend, and taught me many things like baking and cooking which I loved, and needed to do after she died. She taught me independence which also helped me after she had gone.
Pooja: Would you tell us about your family and upbringing and your country and particularly about the society in which you have been brought up?
Irena: I was born in England, but my parents were from Eastern Europe, so I was brought up in a mixture of cultures. I was an only child and grew up in the sixties when women were beginning to do much more in England and were not just housewives. I had a good education and went to university where I studied Drama and English.
Pooja: You have written 2 Books. Tell a bit about them?
Irena: Both of my novels are murder mysteries. The first is called ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ and the second, ‘Dead in the Water’. The first is set on the island of Crete, Greece where I have been living for the past thirteen years and the second at a marina in Windsor, England where I lived before I came here. I like to write about places I have some knowledge about.
Pooja: Do you write Crime Fiction and any specific purpose for that?
Irena: I enjoy reading crime fiction so I chose to write in this genre. I find it challenging to write - most readers of murder mysteries try to guess who the killer is so you have to give them clues and also red herrings. There is also a lot of research to be done into methods of murder, for example, poisons. Every detail must be correct. I enjoy doing research and learning new things all the time.
Pooja: You are planning to write a series of books, are they all be 5.
Irena: They will be a series of murder mysteries, probably set on Crete.
Pooja: Do you have plans for writing fictions of different types in future? Do you think them to have more market value? If so what makes them popular?
Irena: At the moment I plan to write only crime fiction, but eventually I may diversify into horror and supernatural fiction. In England, murder mysteries seem to be very popular and many are turned into television series.
Pooja: There is some personal touch in both the books whether it is Island of Crete or Steel Barge. Is there any character of which you have found a replica in real life?
Irena: I don't use real people to base my characters on, although I may take characteristics from people I have met. There are many of my characteristics in the heroines of both of my novels.
Pooja: You are so versatile. You have played so many roles in life, an actor, puppeteer, voice over, ran café bar, etc. which role was the best you felt?
Irena: As a young child, I always wanted to be an actor and I loved doing that after I finished university, but I'm not sure if I would want to return to the profession now. I enjoyed running the café bar with my husband, but it wasn't something I wanted to do for a long time. Looking ahead, I want to keep writing. It's what I love doing.
Pooja: Tell us about your Ideals which you believe in?
Irena: I believe in freedom of speech, living your dream and never giving up hope. I am also very concerned about the protection of animals, both domestic and wild.
Pooja: Would you kindly tell us about the best mystery novel in your opinion. Or the best writer as such?
Irena: My favorite mystery novel is Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
Pooja: Who is your favorite author? Any inspiration?
Irena: My inspiration for murder mysteries has been Agatha Christie and I love her books. However, I can't say I have a favorite author because I love so many writers and not only crime writers.
Pooja: What books do you like to read? Murder mysteries or others?
Irena: I love murder mysteries - as well as Agatha Christie, I like M.C. Beaton, but I love the classics as well. I enjoy reading Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontes and so many others from that time. Also, I love horror, especially Stephen King and James Herbert. I also like Victoria Hislop who has written novels about Crete.
Pooja: What if one day you woke up and found yourself all alone on the island, no people, no pets, no family. What will you do then?
Irena: It would be very difficult for me as I hate being alone. I can manage very well on my own, but I prefer to have other people around, so I would do everything in my power to find a way to leave the island.
Pooja: How do you inspire your characters to fight the evils?
Irena: I think of the way I would act in every situation.
Pooja: Do you have any plan in future to write in any other genre, poetry, and drama? If yes why and if not why?
Irena: I am very interested in drama. I would like to be involved in turning my novels into plays or screenplays. I have had some short stories and articles published already, as well as my novels and will still write short stories. I wrote poems as a teenager and will probably write more at a later time.
Pooja: Can you share any weird dream that you saw, which made you uneasy for few days?
Irena: In Greece, I have heard it say that if you dream about someone who has died, something bad will happen. I sometimes dream of my father and I am uneasy for a few days. Quite often I do get bad news.
Pooja: Would you please share with us any one secret of your life of which people do know.
Irena: I haven't got any secrets!
Pooja: You used women protagonists in your novels as lead. What is the strongest quality of woman that made you to craft her as your lead?
Irena: I think women have a determination to succeed. This is particularly significant with the character of Eve Masters in 'Dangerous Affair'.
Pooja: Do you have the same quality as your novels protagonists have?
Irena: I think I have Eve's determination to succeed.
Pooja: Can you recall any incident which strikes you as most interesting?
Irena: My holidays in Africa on safari have been wonderful.
Pooja: What is your message to the emerging novelists?
Irena: Never give up on your dream. Even if you get a rejection from a publisher, keep going. It is just one person's opinion. The next person will probably love your work. Keep strong and determined.
Pooja: You may write about you if anything uncovered by my questions.
Irena: I think your questions have covered everything.
Pooja: Thank you madam. We are really grateful. Some of the questions were made on Facebook chat and some through emails. We are grateful to this creative writer for her cooperation.