Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Olga-A Daughter’s Tale by Marie Campbell

Welcome to Author Marie Campbell

In 1994, my mother, Carmen Browne, was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton in the UK seriously ill. As she slowly recovered I realized that had she died so too would the chance of my finding out about her past, her family in Jamaica and, of particular importance to me, who my father was information she had consistently refused to share with me. So I decided to find out for myself.

My first discovery was that my mother’s real name was Olga Browney, born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and one of eleven children from a close-knit, coloured Catholic family. A kind, naïve and gentle girl, my mother arrived in London in 1939 and lived with a malevolent, alcoholic aunt, intending to stay for only six months. However, world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to prevent her from returning home to Kingston.

Written in the form of diary entries and letters, Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is based on a true story about cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman and about moral courage, dignity, resilience and, in particular, love. It is the story of a remarkable woman, who because of circumstances, made a choice, which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica, until nearly half a century later, when her past caught up her.


If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
The first one is my favourite British actor and film star Dirk Bogarde, a closet gay who ironically gave some of his best performances playing gay characters at a time when film stars were very conscious to avoid such roles because it could damage their reputation and homosexuality was still totally unacceptable. He was a very complex man with anti semitic and racist views but could use words to a devastating effect.
Actor, writer and raconteur, Peter Ustinov is my second guest . It was always a joy to listen to Peter relating anecdotes and stories which were hugely entertaining and conversely his ability to give a serious, balanced, thought provoking and intelligent observation on political events.
My third guest would be the writer Oscar Wilde whose Ballad of Reading Gaol I never tire of reading. He was a genius with words and had a razor sharp wit which he used to great effect to put down his opponents. How different his life would have been if he’d been born 100 years later.
Nelson Mandela for a range of reasons but mainly because he is such an inspirational figure and my grandmother, Becky.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
1. The Bible
2. A solar powered hairdryer
3. A photo of my family

What is one book everyone should read?
The Bible

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
My father. I never knew him nor anything about him until I started researching my family history and what I found out was so disturbing to me that I would like him to answer some of my questions.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs, spinach and smoked salmon with fresh orange juice.

One food you would never eat?
Escargots (Snails)

Pet Peeves?
I have one major pet peeve. I’m being served by a shop assistant and the phone rings. He/She stops serving me and answers the phone dealing with the enquiry. Then returns to me!! Why does the person on the phone get preferential treatment and I’m left waiting? It drives me mad and I invariable walk out the shop.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because it’s a great human interest story and emanated as a result of researching my family’s history and culture, something that we all have, and let’s face it – every family has a story.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’ve been asked many times what happened to Olga and Marie after they left London because the book doesn’t say. So, yes, there is a sequel to ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
In 1994 my mother was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, UK, seriously ill. As she slowly recovered I realised had she died so, also, would the chance for me to find out about our past, her family in Jamaica and, of great importance to me, who my father was, information she had resolutely refused to share with me. So I decided to find out for myself. What I found out filled me with such admiration for her that I decided to write a book so that future generations of my family would know about my Mum.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I’ve had many stunning reviews about my book, but what is really so rewarding is that the discoveries I made about my family has prompted readers to start delving into their own family history. For me that’s a real bonus.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Yes. “The Wind Beneath My Wings”, which is what my mother (Olga) was to me.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Discipline! I devised a timetable for writing and stuck to it because when I didn’t I found writing a chore and would find reasons not to do it.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Where I live now – Sydney. I’ve been to many cities around the world and while many have stunning architecture and history, at this stage in my life what Sydney has to offer me is relaxation and fund. Plus it is a stunningly beautiful city with a breathtaking harbor..

What is your favorite Quote?
It’s a Prayer than a quote. The Serenity Prayer:-
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
A film star in the mould of Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth etc.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Isabel Allende, Charles Dickens, F Scott Fitzgerald and Harper Lee.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Yes, my grandmother. She followed her heart (which caused her a lot of grief) and I tend to do the same even though a little voice in my head can sometimes say ‘don’t do it’.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Think before you speak!

What was your favorite children’s book?
The Tales of Narnia – I discovered them through my children.

How do you react to a bad review?
I’ve been fortunate – so far I haven’t had one.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. I first read the book 40 years ago and the issues it discussed- racism and other prejudices I related to because of what my mother and I had experienced. The book had a profound effect on me and I think is a reason why whenever I’ve had the opportunity in my life (ie like joining demonstrations) I would speak out against injustice and prejudice.

Which authors have influence you most how?
Charles Dickens because his attention to detail was immense so that when I read any of his books – I’m in the moment I’m reading about.

What do you do in your free time?
Find new ways to promote my book and go to the movies. I love films!

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
In a state of disbelief!

Favorite places to travel?
Anywhere in Europe

Favorite music?
I like most music except heavy metal – but if pushed to give a favourite it would be African gospel music.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Isabel Allende

About the Book:

Based on a true story, ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ is a family saga about heritage, culture, identity and belonging with an epic feel – from Jamaica to England amidst World War II at a time when Jamaica was a jewel in the crown of the British Empire.

Written in the form of diary entries and letters, it is about the cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman and about her moral courage, dignity, resilience and, in particular, love.

It is the story of a remarkable woman who, because of circumstances, made a choice which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica until nearly half a century later when her daughter discovered her mother’s past.

Giveaway Details:
1 paperback copy of Olga-A Daughter’s Tale open to US only
2 ebooks open Internationally
Ends 10/21/11

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