Author Interview with Theresa Shea


1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?
That’s a hard question, and I think my answer would change daily. However, for today, the three authors I’d love to have coffee with would be John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, and George Eliot. (Can I add Charles Dickens?) I’ve always been fascinated by fictional depictions of human suffering. I remember taking a course in Victorian Literature and just devouring the books that described characters living in squalor and poverty during the Industrial Revolution. The women had large families and no birth control. The midwives came in the front door and the undertakers went out the back door.

I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath and just bowing my head at the moving descriptions of the characters, their motivations, and their sheer desire to carry on. Of Mice and Men also made me take a seat. That’s true brilliance. The strange and whacky characters in Flannery O’Connor’s fiction are wonderfully eye-opening. Yet whether they’re religious fundamentalists of intellectual atheists, they all have their epiphanic moments when grace is accessible to them. That transforming moment is hugely powerful, and O’Connor handles it masterfully.

As for George Eliot,  Middlemarch  and The Mill on the Floss stand out for me. In the latter, Maggie Tulliver’s headstrong desire to BE something gave me goose bumps. Her life choices were so restricted; is it any wonder she deviates from conventional behaviour to seek her dreams?

Oh, there are so many books I could list. What I always respond to is the emotion. I want to be utterly moved when I read a book. I want to care about the characters; in so doing, I can imagine myself in his/her situation and question my own beliefs. I’d like to think I’d make admirable decisions when placed in a difficult position, but do I really know? Being moved is an educational experience for me.

2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
Maybe the collected works of Charles Dickens. Does that even exist? It would be a huge book. Basically, what I’d want is something that I could read over and over again and get different meanings from it. The Bible suits that requirement, for sure. As for food, it would have to be some bread item. My beverage of choice would, bar none, be coffee. I love my coffee.