Monday, 18 May 2020

My revealing novel 

I learned more about the Peninsular Wars from reading Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels than I learned in school history lessons. I learned more than the bare facts; the dates and places. I learned what it was like to be there in the heat of battle. I learned what it felt like. A novelist is well-placed to show the reader those emotions. There’s nothing new in it. Through the medium of a novel, Dickens showed us what it felt like to be a penniless orphan.

Why am I telling you this? Because historians try to give an accurate account of the past, but their output often comes across as too academic. So many history books are devoid of that important element: the collection of sentiments, hopes and frustrations felt by the people who were there at the time.

I lived and worked in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, at the height of the Troubles. I remember more than simply what happened. There are many detailed accounts of that already in the public domain. I now live in England and people ask me what it felt like to live in Northern Ireland in those distant days. Their questions go beyond what happened. I find it difficult to explain in a conversation, in a way that fully captures the feel of the moment. However, I am a novelist, so I had a solution in my writing.

My way around the problem was to write a novel that encapsulates the essence of what it felt like. As Bernard Cornwell did with his Sharpe books, I have used fiction as a means of bringing out the feelings of reality. Fiction in place of reality? Ironically, it seems to work.

The Girl From The Killing Streets is a crime story, but it is more than that. It is a story set against one fateful day in the lives of the people of Belfast. Bloody Friday, 21st July 1972.

The story begins eight years later when a young woman is incarcerated in Armagh Gaol for two murders committed on Bloody Friday. A journalist interviews her and comes away with the clear impression that her story does not ring true. So he interviews others who were in Belfast that day in 1972 and puts together a totally different story of what happened. It is a story of family intrigue, family secrets and dangerous relationships. It is also a story of how people felt when their city was blown apart.

The Girl From The Killing Streets is published by Darkstroke. With bookshops now closed, it can be ordered in paperback or ebook from Amazon. Follow this link:

“This book is a thriller from start to finish I was hooked. Well written from an expert storyteller.”
Amazon review

A remarkably dark and stylish thriller. The next best thing to being there.
Della Galton. Novelist and creative writing tutor

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a gripping novel... writing from personal experiences is a good way to go! Far more relatable and memorable - and for that reason, your story sticks with the reader long after they've finished reading.