Some novels require an awful lot of research, and the one I am currently writing certainly falls into that category. The picture shows some of the books I’ve been referring to – might give a few indications of what the book’s about!
My work-in-progress is set around the time of the Irish war of independence, 1920-21. Back when I was at school, we learned nothing about Irish history, despite the huge impact on everyday life the ‘Troubles’ had on us at that time.
I’ve been married to an Irishman for 25 years, so of course I’ve learned a lot about Ireland, its people and its history, over time. Even so, when I started writing this book I was a bit hazy on many of the details. These books, except the Constance Markievicz one, were all on our bookshelves at home and have been very useful. The Short History of Ireland gave a brief overview of the 1916 uprising, the war of independence and then the civil war that followed almost immediately after. The Story of the Irish Race was published in 1921 when the war was still raging, but was good for learning about the events of the previous centuries that led up to Ireland’s fight to break free of the UK. Great Irish Speeches contains a few from those years – which has helped me understand the Irish nationalist feelings of the time.
While researching I kept coming across the name Constance Markievicz, and at some point read the Wikipedia article on her. She’s a fascinating character, so I bought this book to learn more about her. She was born into Anglo-Irish aristocracy, dabbled as an artist and a theatre producer and actress, married a Polish Count, was a suffragette, set up the Fianna Eireann (kind of military boy scouts) and then became heavily involved in the Irish nationalist movement. She was in the thick of the fighting in the 1916 uprising, and arrested for it, escaping execution only because she was a woman. Quite an unstoppable force. I’m hugely enjoying this book which I’m reading from cover to cover, and it’s certainly inspiring my novel!
Iris Henderson said:
Wow Kathleen this looks as if it’s going to be a fantastic read! Your research shows up exceedingly well in all your books and after reading your previous books on Ireland I really have become so involved with the Irish Potato Famine years. I feel so ashamed at times of what happened and how we in England should have helped them. It was horrific and I can see why the Irish people wanted to break away and keep their own identity. The Irish are such lovely, generous and kind people and in the end I read quite a lot of serious history about the 1840’s. I am going with my two daughters in June to Connemara (Clifden) and am so looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to your new book when it comes out. Thank you Kathleen.
Thank you. I found the research for The Girl from Ballymor quite heart-rending at times. This one’s easier in some way (less upsetting) but harder in other ways (all that politics!)
I’ve been to Clifden many years ago. Lovely place. I seem to remember drinking rather too much beer in a pub while watching Ireland play Italy in a World Cup football match – must have been 1990. Hope you enjoy your holiday!
Sheena Reeves said:
Sounds good. Cannot wait.
Great post and although my work is in a totally different area I empathise with the joy of research. When I started ‘the chore’ I didn’t realise it is such a fascinating part of the writing process. Did you find the research means parts of the story write themselves? Looking forward to your finished novel. x
Yes, the more you read and research the more parts of the novel start writing themselves in your head! It definitely helps. Bits of Constance Markievicz’s character will most certainly find their way into this book. Thanks for commenting!