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The Love Behind The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney

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Fionnuala Kearney © 22 October 2018.
Posted in the Magazine ( · Interviews · Women's Fiction ).

There’s a beautiful little-known song called ‘If I Should Fall Behind’, music and lyrics penned by the brilliant Bruce Springsteen, which was the initial spark of inspiration for what became my third novel, The Book of Love. Its premise is simple – it tells the tale of two lovers, about to wed, telling one another that they will always walk side by side, but that if they should move out of sync with one another “I’ll wait for you and if I should fall behind, wait for me.”

I knew I wanted to write a love story. I wanted to write the love story of a married couple who are together a long time through many ups and downs. Another line from the Bruce song ‘So let’s make our steps clear, so the other may see…’ speaks so simply of communication between a couple and this is an area where I think a lot of couples struggle in real life. With The Book of Love, I wanted to explore the idea of a forum where my characters Dom and Erin could write down the things that might be hard to say or tough to hear, hence their ‘book of love’.

Ultimately their story, though it covers the highs and lows of a long-term marriage, is about the importance of communication and the power of enduring love.

Normally, I write a novel a year, but this one, this time around, took a little longer. It’s structurally quite complex, with both a male and female point of view and told in both past and present strands. I think it took about seven drafts and honestly, nearly finished me! That said, the love for the story from both me and my editor made us keep going until we’d both gotten the very best we could achieve. Next book, I’ve promised myself will be a linear narrative in one timeline (though when I say that out loud, she -the editor- doesn’t believe me!)

I often get asked about a typical writing day and the truth is it can vary. Sometimes absolutely no words reach my fingertips, but I do try to write five or six days a week for a minimum of five hours a day with another hour at least being taken up with social media and emails. Okay, the social media bit is longer, if I think about it!  I should probably turn off all access to it during the working day, but I suffer from “fear of missing out.” Every January, I tell myself that this year, this year, I’ll work differently. As part of a new resolve, I’ll get up earlier and either walk for an hour or do yoga before starting work. And I’ll switch off my own time-draining kryptonite that is Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. This is genuinely the way I’d love to work and one which I’m going to try to embrace wholly from January 2019. Honest. Really.

When working on a novel, I always prepare a playlist on Spotify for my work-in-progress. I don’t ever listen to it while writing, since I love the quiet then, but I do have it on in the car, in the kitchen where ever. I allow the music to fill my creative well and the list of songs I picked for ‘The Book of Love’ playlist is one I adore and hope to listen to for decades to come. There’s everything from the bouncing ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce to the sad and sultry ‘Case of You’ by Joni Mitchell.

During that quiet writing time, I never chapter plan, though I have wondered lately if I had, maybe I’d have saved myself writing at least one of those drafts?! A lot of writers I know do work from a thoroughly planned-in-advance outline, but though I know the beginning, middle, end and some of the bits in between, I like to have the freedom to fill in the gaps as I go. And though I may not have a spreadsheet, I do have an enormous white board which I LOVE! It’s a mind map of scribbles that only I understand. With character notes, scene ideas, conflict moments, tension points, it’s a sort of pictorial spreadsheet – ish! It almost broke my heart to wipe it clean recently, to rub away so much thought process around The Book of Love, but onwards and upwards. It’s time for the layers of the next novel to appear in one of my spidery pictures, time for a new playlist, time to fall in love again with a whole new set of characters.

Let the Love begin.

(c) Fionnuala Kearney

About The Book of Love:

‘A beautiful, heart wrenching love story’ Sinead Moriarty
‘Tender and wise’ Liz Nugent
‘Utterly beautiful’ Claudia Carroll

One love. Two people. Twenty Years.

From the moment they met, Erin and Dom loved each other too much, too quickly. Everyone said it wouldn’t last. But they knew differently.

A wedding present, a notebook, brings them together through the good times and the bad. On the blank pages of their love story, they write down everything they can’t always say – the secrets, the heartbreak, the highs and lows. It’s where they see the best and worst of each other.

Falling in love is easy but staying in love is where the story begins…

This is the Book of Love.

Readers are falling in love with The Book of Love:

‘My book of the year’ Claire Allan

‘You’ll cry. You’ll wonder. I loved it mightily’ Anna McPartlin

‘Beautifully written, Kearney skillfully unravels the complexities of an epic love story, with drama and emotion packed into every page’ Carmel Harrington

‘Life, loss, love and hope – a story to steal your heart and stir your soul. Gorgeous!’ Miranda Dickinson

‘Open this book only if you are prepared to forever leave a piece of your heart between its pages’ Anstey Harris, author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton

‘A gorgeous emotional read that had me in tears…read it to believe in the power of love’ Liz Fenwick

‘An absolutely wonderful story of life, love and loss. A genuine heartfelt book of love’ Mel Sherratt

‘Incredibly moving’ Susan Lewis

‘A book that I will not forget for a very long time. I adored it’ Louise Beech

Order your copy online here.


Fionnuala Kearney lives in Ascot with her husband. They have two grown-up daughters (both with deliberately simple monosyllabic names). One of seven children, Fionnuala likes to write about the nuances and subtle layers of human relationships, peeling them away to see what’s really going on beneath. This her third novel, her first was the Top Ten Irish Times bestselling You, Me and Other People.