We readers are a funny lot – I mean, we tend to go out and buy a lot of books based on things like cover, recommendations and more often than we realise, based on the position of the book in the bookshop or where an on-line retailer has thrown it up into our feed.
We think, we’re making our buying choice based on something more autonomous. We think we select books on genre, on our mood or the fact that something ‘speaks’ to us. We read crime fiction, or contemporary fiction or women’s fiction, occasionally, we read non-fiction and more often than we care to admit – self help! Sometimes I wonder, if we authors tend to go about our relationship with writing in the same way. Very often, by the time we’ve written our book, the lofty ambitions at the start have been moulded and preened into the confines of a story, so at the finish, occasionally by happy accident we end up with something else entirely.
When I’m asked about where my ideas come from, very often, I have to sit and think about a particular book, but generally, I remember that when I sit down to write, the characters are the part that come to me first. When I look back to the very start of my notes, I’ll have ideals like love, pride or courage as my starting motivation, but the actual book begins sometime after those words have been committed to the page.
It was no different this time, when I decided that I wanted to start something new. I had a clear idea that I wanted to write about forgiveness and kindness, but it was only when I started to plot out the three sisters and Nola in particular that it felt as if I had started on the journey to what would become a novel.
After the success of The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club, I also knew that I wanted to write another story set in Ballycove. A number of my earlier books are also set in this picturesque village on the west coast of Ireland and it’s a place I feel I know, an amalgamation of all the best bits of the villages along the north Mayo coastline. A number of reviewers have said that Ballycove is almost like a character in and of itself, but the truth is, it is a thread that weaves through not just the stories, but the very fibre of the characters. While the books are not a series, there is that sense of place binding them together and it was always going to be a part of The Gin Sister’s Promise.
It’s a strange thing, this writing lark, because as much as I’m told that my books are uplifting and feel good they never start out that way, the thing that cemented this story was my morning walks during lockdown.
As soon as we could break that five kilometre stretch, I began to take my dog walking in the nearby woods. We’re very lucky where I live, we have the second largest urban forest in Europe right at the bottom of our town and there, just before you arrive in the woods is our local distillery.
There has been a huge upshot in local brewing and distilling over the last decade. I’m hardly a spirits connoisseur at this point, but I know, I’m not alone in being thrilled to see new business, locally grown, producing quality products spring up in the town.
Each morning on my walk, I passed by Connacht Distillery. It’s an old building that’s been polished and preened so now, when you peer thought the long plate glass windows, you see gleaming vats and with my imagination in overdrive, I was imagining what it would be like to work in a place like that or to own it.
As the weeks progressed and my characters took shape and the story arc became more apparent the more I fleshed things out on the page, I had an inkling that the Distillery could be central to the story that was forming in my mind.
In the end, I dived in and created the Delahaye Distillery. It’s a family owned business that was the saving of one man when he might otherwise have drowned in grief after losing the wife he adored and it might turn out to be the redemption of his family – but I’m afraid, you’re going to have to read the book to find out…
At the end of it, as I now approach publication day, I’m really pleased with this book. I loved writing about Georgie, Iris and Nola. I enjoyed seeing how they grew on the page and honestly, there have been times when I just wanted to move into Solider Hill House with them and camp down by the huge fireplace wrapped up in a Corrigan woollen mills rug – I’m hoping readers will feel the very same!
(c) Faith Hogan
About The Gin Sisters’ Promise:
Three estranged sisters. Six months to come back together.
When Georgie, Iris and Nola’s mother died and their father disappeared into his grief, the sisters made a pact: they would always be there for one another, no matter what.
Now, decades later, they haven’t spoken for years and can barely stand to be in the same room. As his health declines, their father comes up with a plan to bring them back to one another. In his will, he states that before they can claim their inheritance, they must spend six months living together in their childhood home in the village of Ballycove, Ireland, and try to repair their broken relationships.
As the months progress, old resentments boil over, new secrets threaten to come out and each sister must decide what matters more: their pride, or their family. Can they overcome their past and find a way to love each other once more?
Bestselling Irish writer Faith Hogan’s The Gin Sisters’ Promise is an emotional, uplifting story about forgiveness, second chances and the importance of family, for fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Heidi Swain and Liz Fenwick.
Order your copy online here.