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Sanity Saver by Gemma Jackson

Writing.ie | Magazine | Interviews | Women’s Fiction

By Gemma Jackson

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Writing to me, I thought this would be easy. I can’t think of writing without thinking of reading. I don’t sit down at my computer and write with people reading my work in mind. Instead I want to tell them a story. I grew up listening to story tellers, people who would have you hang on their every word. Story tellers took you to new worlds, places that really existed and worlds of pure imagination. That is what I hope to do when I sit down to write, take the reader away with me.

Writing for me is a visit with friends, people who allow me to direct them. It can be fun and frustrating at the same time.

I’ve been writing all of my life. I love telling tall tales. I grew up when television started at 5 in the evening. I’d a neighbour who put in her teeth and put on her makeup to watch the 10 o’clock news. She didn’t want Charles Mitchell, the RTE news reader, to see her in her curlers.

Through Streets Broad and Narrow, my debut novel was published in July by Poolbeg. TSBN, is about the people of Dublin. It’s not my Dublin but the world of my parents and theirs. I grew up listening to people reminisce about ‘the good old days.’ When I sat down to write Through Streets Broad and Narrow I found I had a fount of information to choose from.

gemma_jacksonMy heroine, Ivy Rose Murphy awakes on the first day of 1925 to find her world has changed overnight. After years of catering to the men in her life, her Da and three younger brothers, she is alone. She has to learn to cope with the frightening reality of being penniless, having no one but herself for her very survival. The world opens up to her. She makes friends with Ann Marie, a woman from a privileged background. Ann Marie guides Ivy through the world of the wealthy. Ivy wants more from life then constantly struggling just to keep the roof over her head and the food in her mouth. Jem Ryan, a local jarvey, has big dreams of a better life too. These are the people of Through Streets Broad and Narrow, the book follows their trials and tribulations.

Through Streets Broad and Narrow creates a world that is real to me. Ivy lives in the Dublin Tenements in an area known to the locals as The Lane. This place exists, I was born there. I had to find a way for Ivy to make money. There were not a lot of options for women in those days. Here too I took from my own life. One of the ladies I grew up with made her living knocking on the back doors of the wealthy. She made an excellent living from the discards of the wealthy. I used her example to create Ivy’s ‘round’ in the book.

Seeing Through Streets Broad and Narrow in bookshops was the culmination of a long held dream for me. I’d been sending out novels and been rejected for years. When I finally saw my book on a shelf I wanted to dance and shout. I wanted to stop passerby traffic and insist they examine the product.

I have to write. It isn’t something I can live without. Over the years, with every new rejection I would swear I was going to stop dreaming of becoming a published writer. I’d throw my hands in the air and declare “that was it, no more”. My daughter at these times will nod wisely and generally ignore my ranting. After a few days she will prompt me to return to writing my stories. She doesn’t like the person I become when I step away from my fictional world for any length of time.

I have been fortunate enough to travel the world. It’s easier to say where I haven’t been. I’ve never visited Australia and New Zealand. I’d love to go but don’t fancy the long flight. I’d like to ‘have computer will travel’ and take my writing with me. I’d pen my bestselling novels from all around the world. I may as well dream here as in bed.

I used the title Sanity Saver here and that is truly what writing is to me. It allows me to escape into a world that I control with people I like and want to get to know.

(c) Gemma Jackson

Gemma Jackson was born in Dublin the fifth of seven children. When she was only eighteen months old she was put on the back of ‘Trigger’ the famous film star, Roy Rodgers, horse. This started her love affair with horses.

She grew up in a family with no money but lots of humour and music. It was only years later she recognised the love. She grew up in an era when children were told to sit down and shut up. It never seemed to occur to the adults that the scared stiff youngsters could understand every word being spoken. She has turned all of these force fed gossip sessions into a book of charm and humour.

Gemma has travelled the world always wanting to know what is out there beyond the horizon. She had to work to pay for her travels. She has been everything from a sheep wrangler in Devon to a speech writer to a TV evangelist in America. England was her first stop on her travels, it being nearest and cheapest. She was an au-pair in Brussels to an artist and her family. She was an extra in films in Vancouver, Canada.  She was an air hostess and the poster girl for Iran Airlines when the Shah of Iran was in power. She was a war bride. The war in Iran broke out a week before her wedding forcing her to cater her own wedding breakfast.

She was one of the vast gang of people who helped put Disneyland into Paris. She sat beside Michael Jackson as they watched his 3D image perform in EuroDisney.

Gemma lives, for the moment, in a tiny fishing village at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. From her purple hair to her fat feet she is still up for anything.

Check out Gemma at gemmajacksondubliner.com   or on Twitter @gemmadubliner

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