Monday, 24 May 2010

I *Heart* Irish Authors

It could be something in the way that the Irish (along with the lovely Northern Englanders) just say what they feel and feel what they say that makes me adore Irish writers. I'm talking about the female authors here. After all, it was Marian Keyes' debut novel, "Watermelon" that really kickstarted my passion and made me realise that being a writer didn't necessarily mean I had to have a Degree in English, be able to quote Shakespeare and Lord Byron verbatim at swanky dinner parties, grasp the basic rules of a game of Polo or know more about the husbandry of horses than I really cared to. Nor, I discovered, was it essential to use elongated, flowery language or understand the difference between a pronoun and a semi-quaver.

I still remember my sigh of relief -  accompanied by a small tear of realisation when I read that Clare, the main character in 'Watermelon' was not only dumped at the birth of her daughter, by the father of the new-born, but that he'd also left her for an overweight, middle-aged divorcee called Denise who lived in the flat above them.Phew. Real life. And not a whiff of a Duke, a simpering sillyhead or a whinnying purebreed amongst them.

As far as I was concerned, Marian Keyes couldn't write books fast enough. She was my saviour.  She'd given me a book with characters I could identify with.  Who swore, who got things wrong, who had shitty things happen to them;  characters I fell in love with and literally wanted to adopt and live with.  And more importantly she'd given me the permission I didn't even realise I needed, to be able to relax into my own skin and tell stories my own way, without the constant fear that it wouldn't be 'good enough' or of interest to anybody but me.  This, I came to learn, was called my 'voice'.  And I was delighted to find that I had one.

And when I finally plucked up the courage to join an online writing group, I met some other aspiring authors with voices I adored as much as Marian's. And whether it's something in the Irish sea or something that's in the Irish blood, the minute the Irish contingency amongst us got a publishing deal, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them. Claire Allan was the first. I felt so proud that I'd been part of the happy group of writers who'd been able to read her first drafts and comment on her chapters. Her debut novel, "Rainy days and Tuesdays" kept me warm, secure, happy, sad and hopeful for as long as I could stretch it out and then it went to work and did the rounds there.

When I couldn't get hold of Clodagh Murphy's first book, "The Disengagement Ring", because the release date in the UK was 6 months after the Irish, I was delighted when she sent me a personally signed copy and loved every mad, passionate second of Kate and Will's journey (I even got a terrible crush on Will - something that hadn't happened since Heathcliff many years ago). Clodagh's follow-up, "Girl in a Spin" has also just been released.

So when I heard of another Irish author, Ciara Geraghty, I snaffled up her first book, "Saving Grace" and felt positively bereft when Grace and her gorgeous ginger geeky beau, Bernard, weren't in my life anymore.  And now I've just finished Ciara's second book, "Becoming Scarlett" which was just as lovely as her first and I'm wondering if I shouldn't just up sticks and get myself over to the Emerald Isle where all the  lovely writers live. And who knows, maybe that little bit of Irish in me might rise to the surface and bestow me with wonderful writerly magic like these fabulous ladies?


Lane said...

Well you certainly look wonderfully Celtic.

So many wonderful Irish writers. I heart the male ones too.

(I do hope Marian Keyes is ok. No word for a long time on her newsletter)

Debs Riccio said...

I know, Lane, I was thinking that as I wrote it. Bless her. Maybe she shone too brightly and burnt out for a while - she'll be back and even better than before. Couldn't think of Irish male authors unless I read them without realising they are.

Talli Roland said...

I love Irish writers, too! Particularly Maeve Binchy. Settling down with one of her novels, with a cozy blanket... sigh!

Fionnuala Kearney said...

OI! I'm Irish and I live here! Fx

Debs Riccio said...

Oooh - hello Fi! x