Q&A with Mary-Anne O’Connor, author of War Flower

Q&A with Mary-Anne O’Connor, author of War Flower

War Flower 1War Flower by Mary-Anne O’Connor is our Book of the Week. It is a tender, heart-wrenching romance set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. You can read our full review by clicking here.

We adored this read so much that we spoke with Mary-Anne about how she captures the life of history in fiction:

Better Reading: Congratulations on the publication of War Flower – could you quickly tell the Better Reading community what it’s about?

Mary-Anne O’Connor: War Flower is a sixties story about twin teenage girls, Rosemary and Poppy, who escape their conservative parents to have the summer trip of a lifetime and end up falling in love with two young men, Angus and Ben. Each couple finds a way to be together back home but sadly the young men are soon shipped off to Vietnam. The girls are left to pick up the pieces with them on their return and help their new friend, orphaned Vietnamese girl Thuy, to try to adjust too. In a haze of parties, protests, drug and rock and roll, War Flower is a roller coaster and hopefully transports the reader straight into this tumultuous, passionate era.

BR: You’ve said before a lot of your writing is inspired by your family, particularly your relatives that fought in previous wars, which obviously make the stories very personal and heartfelt. Do you think writing with this connection makes it easier or harder?

MAO: It definitely makes it easier as I can weave truth into the fiction and increase the potential for the novel to feel authentic. It is very sad sometimes though, understanding what they endured.

BR: Having Thuy as a main character in War Flower provided a great sense of perspective and balance. Can you tell us about the inspiration for her?

MAO: My next-door neighbor and close friend, Thuy Simpson. She is Vietnamese and she’s an incredibly strong, wonderful person. Thuy really helped me develop this character by sharing her own experiences and insights with me.

BR: How was writing about the Vietnam War compared to writing about the first or second world wars?

MAO: It really surprised me how affected I was by the end- how much the Vietnam Vets moved me. I’m still reeling from the realization of just how much they suffered and how unfairly they were treated: conscription, abuse, little support or respect. It was a terrible travesty. Having the characters try to heal and the women who loved them try to help them do so gave me great scope for story but it also put pressure on doing this generation justice. They deserve so much more than they’ve been given.

BR: Which twin would you say you resemble more – Poppy or Rosemary?2492

MAO: Phew, that’s a tricky one! There’s a bit of each of the twins in me; I can be strong but I can hurt and fall down too. Poppy is very self-disciplined and, as a writer, I also have to be that way, but sometimes I let my hair down too (although not as much as Rosemary!!!). I’m going to say ‘both’.

BR: Music became an important part of the story, and really helped the 60s era come alive. Were you a fan of this type of music before writing the book? Can you recommend a soundtrack for readers while they read it?

MAO: Such a fan!!! I really loved the process of choosing songs for scenes, in fact I blasted it and danced around the house on many occasions- just ask Thuy. ???? The War Flower song list is available on Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/user/jamesabest123/playlist/179UUW1UNmNt9mI5ayfCYv

BR: What are you plans for your next book – will you continue your theme of stories told against a background of war?

MAO: Yes, after three stories exploring the development of our cultural identity in the 20th century I’ve decided to go back in time to write a series about Australia’s journey in the 19th century. (It’s all very George Lucas really.)

I’m currently writing about the Eureka Stockade, tentatively entitled ‘Southern Crossed’.

BR: Have you read any great books recently that have really stayed with you?

MAO: I’m a massive fan of Rachel Johns, Tricia Stringer and Liane Moriarty but a debut novelist captured me this year too: Darry Fraser. She penned a great, rollicking tale in ‘Daughter of the Murray’, which I loved.

Related Articles

Author Mary-Anne O’Connor Reminds us that The Oldest Cure for Boredom is in the Book

News | Author Related | Book Life

17 March 2020

Author Mary-Anne O’Connor Reminds us that The Oldest Cure for Boredom is in the Book

    Podcast: Mary-Anne O’Connor, Author of In a Great Southern Land, Discusses her Creative Family and Getting Published

    Podcast

    13 May 2019

    Podcast: Mary-Anne O’Connor, Author of In a Great Southern Land, Discusses her Creative Family and Getting Published

      Sons, Chaos and Love: Mary-Anne O’Connor, Author of In a Great Southern Land, Reflects on Kids vs Teens

      News

      7 May 2019

      Sons, Chaos and Love: Mary-Anne O’Connor, Author of In a Great Southern Land, Reflects on Kids vs Teens

        Walking in their shoes: Read a Q&A with Mary-Anne O'Connor about her new book, In a Great Southern Land

        News

        5 April 2019

        Walking in their shoes: Read a Q&A with Mary-Anne O'Connor about her new book, In a Great Southern Land

          Another side to humanity's story: In a Great Southern Land author Mary-Anne O'Connor on the importance on women in historical fiction

          News

          30 March 2019

          Another side to humanity's story: In a Great Southern Land author Mary-Anne O'Connor on the importance on women in historical fiction

            Star-Crossed Lovers: Read an extract from In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O'Connor

            News

            27 March 2019

            Star-Crossed Lovers: Read an extract from In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O'Connor

              Enthralling Historical Fiction: Review of In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O'Connor

              News

              26 March 2019

              Enthralling Historical Fiction: Review of In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O'Connor

                Blending Historical Fiction and Mystery: read a sample chapter from The Naturalist's Daughter by Tea Cooper

                News

                12 March 2018

                Blending Historical Fiction and Mystery: read a sample chapter from The Naturalist's Daughter by Tea Cooper

                  My Fiancee, the Stranger: The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

                  News

                  12 March 2018

                  My Fiancee, the Stranger: The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

                    Grand Love Triangle: read a sample chapter from The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

                    News

                    12 March 2018

                    Grand Love Triangle: read a sample chapter from The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

                      Publisher details

                      War Flower
                      Author
                      Mary-Anne O’Connor
                      Publisher
                      Harlequin
                      Genre
                      Fiction
                      Released
                      18 September, 2017

                      Synopsis

                      The 1960s are beating a fresh pulse of political and cultural upheaval through Sydney. For sheltered convent schoolgirl Poppy Flannery such changes seem irrelevant. But it doesn't stop her from longing to join in, especially if it means spending time with the popular boy she secretly loves, Ben Williamson. So when the opportunity for a dream escape to Surfers Paradise arrives, Poppy and her twin sister Rosemary seize it and find themselves in the midst of the swinging sixties at last.Rosemary embraces their secret new life with a vengeance, discovering drugs, boys and radical politics in a haze of parties, music festivals and protest marches. But such freedom is stolen when Rosemary's great love, Angus, is sent to Vietnam, along with Ben.Soon a war fought thousands of kilometres away will arrive on the twins' door in the form of orphaned refugee Thuy. As many more victims begin to appear, including shattered versions of Australian soldiers, they must decide how far they will go for the men they adore, and ask themselves whether love really is all you need.
                      Mary-Anne O'Connor
                      About the author

                      Mary-Anne O'Connor

                      Bestselling author Mary-Anne O'Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialties in environment, music and literature. After a successful marketing career she now focuses on writing fiction and non-fiction as well as public speaking.Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. Her previous novels are Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016), War Flower (2017) and In a Great Southern Land (2019).

                      Books by Mary-Anne O'Connor

                      COMMENTS

                      Leave a Reply

                      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *