I write from necessity. If I’m not writing, I’m miserable. I’ve written lots of non-fiction over the years but I reached a turning point in 2009 when I was short listed for the Virginia [Woolf] prize for my novel, Bone and Blood, published in 2014. Now every day is a writing day wherever I am.
Donegal gives me space to find my own rhythm. I live on the Wild Atlantic Way, overlooking Donegal Bay with a view of Ben Bulben echoing Yeats or Sebastian Barry in one direction and Slieve League sea cliffs in the other. You can see the peninsula of St. John’s Point, where it is possible to spot dolphins and the occasional whale. That’s on a good day. On the days when the rain and mist come down you can barely see the sheep huddling into the stone ditch. BUT the unpolluted light, day and night, is always illuminating.
My first novel, Bone and Blood, was inspired by a visit to Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin where I found out some Irish women had been imprisoned during the Second World War. Subsequent research has been built into the main character, Brigitte who moved from Leitrim to Berlin in 1937 at 19 years old. The novel is set in Berlin in 2005 when Aisling arrives from Dublin and unpicks her great-aunt Brigitte’s story as they wait for the funeral of Brigitte’s daughter. Their initial dutiful and distant relationship becomes something more and Aisling learns as much about herself as about the past.
My second novel Michel-Michelle, published by victorinapress.com in March 2020, challenges fixed notions of gender and seeks to increase awareness of diversity in ourselves, our friends, our families, and others. The main character, Axel is an architect in Lille and the son of transgender Michel-Michelle, his birth mother Amelia and her partner, Naomi. Potential fatherhood brings back memories of his own childhood as he recalls his relationship with his “three mothers” and the mix of French and English in his identity. Challenged by his relationship with his partner, Sophie, he reflects on his father’s transition from male to female and his own transition from child to adult and his move from France to England.
Birth, death, and suicide mingle in his notebooks and dreams. www.victorinapress.com
Copies of Bone and Blood and Michel-Michelle also available from www.books.ie.
Contact Margo Gorman on firstname.lastname@example.org.