Listen for the Weather is a story about a marriage. It chronicles a specific period in the life of a relationship under pressure and is almost forensic in its gaze. With this book, I wanted to look at love; I’m intrigued by the held idea that love is kind – because it isn’t always.
The “You are perfect as you are. You complete me” sort of thing isn’t interesting to me at all. It’s so final. There’s a laziness in that very idea of completion, of having reached some idyll.
It’s not the sort of love I want to write about, or even read about. Love is active; it lives and breathes. It morphs and fights. And it bowls you over, for better and worse. It keeps pushing you back on yourself, on your own resources, into a space where you think and grow. I wanted to explore that – the living in the trenches of a love that is alive – and try to convert it into language, to capture that real sense of friction and elation on the page.
I like writing about people, about the dynamics that exist within the relationships closest to us. My last novel The Difference threw the net a little wider than this one in so far as it looked at family. Listen for the Weather also walks the tightrope that is negotiating daily life among other people, but it homes in more closely on the central couple, Beth and Steve.
The characters here are those from The Difference – two years have passed when we meet them again – but this book stands alone. It’s not at all necessary to have read the previous one, as this takes them into entirely new territory. I suppose Listen for the Weather is something of a study in trust. Or mistrust. The marriage had been dented some years previous, but got to its feet again. The family moved to the end of the world to outrun the damage and find trust in a new place. But of course, we are our own downfall and no amount of warm weather or different rooms will easily save us from ourselves.
Things we imagine to be set and solid in our lives can turn out to be incredibly fluid; in the space of a year, we can exist in circumstances that are unrecognisable to what went before, unrecognisable to ourselves. And so it is with Beth and Steve. But just because you’ve built a new life in a certain place, and carved out shiny routines to suit the version of yourself that you quite fancy now, there are no guarantees you’ll get to live out your design. You may have shed your old skin, but that doesn’t mean you’re a new snake.
Writing is a peculiar pursuit because it’s absolutely the only thing I want to do, and also equally the last thing I want to do, ever. Inspiration for this book or any other, for me, is unpredictable and comes through the normal business of living, the constant skulduggery in any given day or week of being alternately disappointed and worried and happy and surprised. The challenge is to be able to observe it all freely enough to not just feel it, but to also step back and note it, and wonder at it.
I left Ireland early in the Autumn of 2016 to go to New Zealand, and I came back in the Spring of last year. Strangely I was more conscious than ever of the changing seasons, because of their lack. I had three Spring-Summers in a row, and it was quite odd. Unsettling really, to have so much good weather.
I returned to a familiar place in similar weather as when I’d left, and yet everything seemed off. It reminded me of the line in that Crowded House song; Walking ‘round the room singing stormy weather. I think the sense of projecting my own feelings and making my own environment certainly informed my writing of this story and my writing for the characters during that time. The resulting book is what developed on my pages, and so here it is. I couldn’t have done it differently.
At the moment, I like it. But perhaps the day before the launch I’ll want to buy up every copy and never mention it again. I felt that mix of satisfaction and dread this week two years ago, when The Difference was about to be published.
Listen for the Weather ends in a very definite way. Beth and Steve do make a call on things. They must. And I love the elegance of a clear decision rising out of the dross of the everyday. Any attempt at an honest absolute in this uncertain world is a marvel to me.
But then, Time. There’s always Time. I know that. And no matter where you are, there’s always so much bloody weather.
(c) Justine Delaney Wilson
Born in Dublin, Justine Delaney Wilson read English at Trinity College Dublin and completed a post-grad in Journalism at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
She has been writing on a freelance basis ever since, and worked in television research and production for over a decade.
Her first book, The High Society (Gill & Macmillan, 2007) was nominated in the Non-Fiction Book of the Year category at the BGE Irish Book Awards in 2008.
She is the author of two novels, The Difference and Listen for the Weather.
About Listen for the Weather:
Every act has a consequence. Every marriage has a breaking point.
Beth Rogers and her family have settled well into their new life in New Zealand, far from the stifling containment of the life they knew at home in Ireland.
Everything is idyllic.
The children are happy and settled. Beth’s marriage to Steve, and their love for each other, seems solid.
Until a bombshell lands, in the form of a letter Steve receives from a woman from his past. In the envelope is a photograph of a three-year-old girl — Beth and Steve’s papered-over past has caught up with them, in the shape of this child …
Beth forgave Steve once before — can she do it again? Does Steve want her to?
Listen for the Weather is the story of a marriage. It’s a story about consequences. And how we make our own weather.
Order your copy online here.