• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

The Way We Were: Book Number 11! Sinead Moriarty

Writing.ie | Magazine | Women’s Fiction
The Way We Were
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So here we are, book number eleven, The Way We Were, is in the shops. As I stare at the cover I can’t quite believe it – where did eleven books even come from? And yet, I have an idea for book twelve already forming in the back of my mind – thank God!

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was sifting through pile of rejection letters from publishers and agents and wondering if I’d ever have a book published.

I always say when I give writing talks – “be tenacious and believe in yourself”. I could have given up after my first two novels were rejected, but something in me just wouldn’t allow it. The urge to write was too strong. I persevered and boy am I glad I did.

So if you’re reading this and you’re feeling dejected – hang in there! One day it just might happen, honestly – believe in yourself.

sinead-moriartyIdeas for novels can be difficult to explain but the idea for The Way We Were had been percolating in the back of my mind for years. I knew it was a good idea but I just couldn’t figure out how to weave the themes into a work of fiction. I wanted to write about a family who find their lives turned upside down by a very dramatic event but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

Back in the late 1980s teacher, Brian Keenan, and journalist, John McCarthy, among others, were kidnapped and taken hostage in Beirut. They remained in captivity for over four years. After spending time in solitary confinement Brian and John were put in a cell together.

They were two very different men. Different temperaments, backgrounds, upbringing. Keenan was from a working class background in Belfast while McCarthy was a public school boy from England

But during their time together they became as close as brothers. The bond they formed during their time in captivity was a lifelong one and they remain the best of friends to this day.

When they were finally released the two men talked very openly and emotionally about this incredible friendship that had kept them sane during those long dark years. You could see the deep connection and love between them.
The attachment never faded and they are still like brothers. I was always fascinated by this amazing bond.

I was equally interested in the fact that John McCarthy’s girlfriend, a fellow journalist, Jill Morrell, campaigned so tirelessly to get him released. She was the face of the campaign, the sweet faced, pretty blond girlfriend begging for her boyfriend’s release. She never gave up and kept his name in the forefront of people’s minds for all the years he was away.

It was a real love story. When John was released everyone sighed with happiness as they walked off into the sunset together. It was only a matter of time before the wedding. But then to everyone’s shock, they broke up. They had changed, they were no longer the same people and they couldn’t make it work.

I wanted to somehow write a book with some of these strong themes worked into the storyline.

The Way We Were is about a married couple, Ben and Alice, who have two teenage daughters and who love each other deeply but are going through a bump in their marriage.

Like all relationships theirs has got a bit stale. Ben is feeling restless. He’s having a mid-life crisis. Is this it? he wonders. He feels his life has become mundane and is slipping through his fingers. He wants to shake things up, to feel vibrant again. Ben craves adventure and when someone offers him the opportunity to have that adventure he jumps at the chance.

Ben’s fellow surgeon asks him to go to Africa, to Eritrea to operate with another colleague, Declan. Ben knows there is a risk involved as the country is very unstable, but he says yes.

He knows Alice will be worried about him, he knows it’s a dangerous place but he can’t wait to go and experience something new with a fellow surgeon. Alice is furious and worried sick that something will happen to him. It turns out she was right and what happens next changes their lives forever.

The book is really about love and the power of memories. Alice needs to forget Ben to survive and be a good mother to their daughters, but he clings to her memory to keep himself alive.

What will happen to their lives? Can Ben survive? Will they ever see each other again? If they do, can they possibly get back to the way they were?

I wanted to explore the power of memory. I also wanted to look at how people change. What happens when the person you know so well is altered by life? When something happens to turn your life upside down and you have to change to survive, can you get back the way you were or are you permanently altered?

Can you fall back in love with your husband if he is a different man? Can you get your old life back or do you create a new one and move on?

The Way We Were looks at all those themes along with being a mother to two very different teenage girls and all their antics and the sticky situations they get themselves into. While the themes are serious, there is humour as well as pathos in the book. I just hope people will enjoy reading it!

(c) Sinead Moriarty

About The Way We Were

‘He needed something else. He wanted more.’

Alice and Ben are a couple like any other bound together by love, work, children, familiarity and a shared sense of purpose.

But when Ben decides to pursue a dream of his own, he brings devastation on his family and, as far as they know, their lives will never be the same again.

Alice and Ben are now on different paths: she needs to put their shared life behind her; he needs to remember it to survive.

So, what happens if they get a second chance?

Can they – should they – go back to the way they were?

The Way We Were has already hit the bestseller list and is in bookshops now – or pick up your copy online here!

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