This calls for reblogging. It is a matter of national shame that powerful elements of the press are so embedded with vested interests that they have attempted to shut down this shocking story of how we treated our infants in the past, while PR shills claim that truth-tellers are “losing the run of themselves”.
I write from a place of emotional violence. The emotional violence is born from how we suppress ourselves and our past in the face of raw power.
Whenever I visit my parents in my homeplace near Tuam, I catch up with Mam’s ongoing work to research the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. I’ve seen the multiple and varied representations of the burial ground that have been published in the media over the past year, and here I try to outline what I know of the ground myself.
The site today alongside 1905/6 OS map revision
Above ground, there seems to be little evidence as to what lies beneath. If you visit the site – and you should, to get a sense of it alongside the maps and images here – you’ll find a walled-off corner of the open space at the back of houses in the residential estate, built here after the Home was demolished. It has two gates leading into it. Galway County Council put the wall and the little gates there, knowing what the space was, but nothing else.
White Feathers came out on the 28th August last year. This means that it has been out in the wild for nearly a year. It’s been an interesting, if turbulent time, as I hinted at just about the six month mark. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you have to have very resilient mental health to endure the whole process of having a novel published. Imagine having your chest cut open, your ribs sawn through, and anyone able to take your still-beating heart in their rough, unclean fingers and paw at the ventricles…You are incredibly vulnerable. This is a good thing as well as a bad thing. Through sharing your work with the world, opening yourself to them, you bring that world to readers, and seeing them react strongly, empathising and thinking about the characters – that is the best feeling in all the world.
Now I am back at the entry point of the whole cycle, trudging through an occasionally intractable first draft of the next novel. I won’t say too much of what it’s about except that there’s Germany (well, sort of), and taboo romance, and betrayed promises and MORE WAR and some friends from WF show up briefly. I sent the first tranche to my agent in May and she was encouraging, so am working on getting some more in. And now that I’m moving forward into this new cycle, I’m beginning to get some perspective on everything that’s happened to me over the last few months. Continue reading “A Year Of White Feathers”→
Intrigued by White Feathers? Fancy a taster? This 8-minute clip includes a scene from the novel and a brief intro to the historical context. Some adult references, if mention of the wrong time of the month counts as an adult reference?
Our heroine Eva comes across the redoubtable historical figure Mrs Humphry Ward, and her Order of the White Feather. Be warned: “Ma Hump” tends to possess me when I’m reading her!
I know I’ve been fairly quiet of late. This is largely work-related, as I’ve been very busy since I just started my new job at the end of May. Also, I have started cycling to work. I have a very beautiful, largely peaceful commute by the sea, and it is a time when I am disconnected from the “always on” mode of the world. It has done wonders for my physical and mental wellbeing but does mean I’m quite tired, as my body adjusts to the extra demand.
I am looking forward to having some uninterrupted writing time the week after next, when I will stay on writing retreat in a lovely guesthouse near Westport. I am really looking forward to concentrating on my second novel.
Also, after experimentation with the snazzy new microphone (and help from the better half) I have plans to issue my long-promised podcast this week, after a lot of positive feedback at open mics at festivals. Working on the format at the moment but should be out this week. I will keep the podcast up on soundcloud for a defined amount of time, then I’ll remove it. I’m open to feedback from others who have done this before if they have any advice. Also, if anyone has any events or ventures they would like me to mention, please get in touch, as I plan on having a brief “literary round-up” at the start of the clip.
Maureen from North West Writers sent me on a circular of their writing weekend from 24th-26th July. Special Writing Weekend workshops will be held in the beautiful and tranquil settings of Carn Lodge, where I had the pleasure of giving a workshop earlier in the year. Facilitators include John McKenna, Niamh Boyce (fellow Novel Fair winner!) and a launch in Cafe Blend in Letterkenny. More information available here or below.
I really recommend this as part of an extended weekend. It’s a lovely part of the country to get away from it all and enjoy what the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer as well as enjoying the workshops (and I had some lovely cakes when I was there :)
In a nutshell, due to loads of positive feedback (not the microphone kind) after my performance reading from White Feathers at the Listowel Writers Week open mike, where I had to wait my turn for a brief slot and then allow myself to be possessed by the unlovely Mrs Humphrey Ward in the middle of her rant, I have decided to podcast readings from the book.
(This is due to the dearth of Irish literary festivals to which I have been invited to read or speak. I can either sit and wait my turn like a good girl, or I can make a ****ing podcast instead and get on with it!)
God Only Knows (How All This Stuff Works)
So, not knowing much about podcasts and realising I needed some equipment, I received an early birthday present from my beloved in the shape of a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. This is a very large microphone shaped in a very not-safe-for-work fashion. It also came with some software, and I had some fun with it. But God Almighty, you’d need to have a degree in engineering to know what’s going on. I did a brief vocal test with the tag end of God Only Knows which didn’t sound too bad.
Less successful were my attempts to record myself playing the piano. Of course I am not trying to record piano, I am trying to record my voice :) but this piece, Chopin’s Waltz 69 no. 1, was always one I kept in mind for a character in White Feathers, Eva’s ailing sister Imelda. I had a whole big chunk of Imelda’s time in Switzerland written down, which never saw the light of day, but that piece was being played and it’s always the piece I have in mind for that character, and I feel a certain yearning to it. But unfortunately even with plugins to make it recital setting, the piano quality isn’t what I’d like. Still, here is the first page of it, played somewhat inexpertly by yours truly on a Yamaha Clavinova :)