Since the publication of my novel Six Postcards Home in 2013 with Poolbeg Press, I’ve been taking a sabbatical from writing novels and concentrating on Travel Writing instead. Always at the back of my mind was the little voice telling me that all this travel would be great research for writing books in the future. I didn’t realise how abruptly the world of travel would come to a standstill in March 2020. But I do heave a sigh of relief that I managed to cross almost all of my top destinations from my Bucket List. Travel has always been a huge inspiration for me in my writing. I find it easier to conjure up a scenario that I have lived through myself. Whether my characters are having a coffee in Havana, or passing through an airport in Chicago or betting on roulette in Las Vegas, my own sensorial experiences are described through the minds and words of my characters. It helps the reader to achieve that sense of place making the process effortless for myself.
There is nothing like a major world event or change in personal circumstances to fuel the creativity in a writer and the pandemic has forced me to sit still and evaluate all the travel that I have enjoyed over the last eight years. I’ve always described my writing as painting with words – having taught art at secondary school level for 30 years. As I’ve retired in 2020 I can now throw myself fully into doing just that. I’m not travelling with the written word alone however as the spoken word is incredibly powerful and while I’ve been travel broadcasting on Newstalk fm and Virgin Media TV it has inspired me to start a travel podcast, chatting to guests about their travel experiences and memories. I launched The Novel Traveller Podcast on January 22nd and among my guests are Ivan Yates, Keith Barry, Rick O’Shea, Elaine Crowley and Madeleine Keane. John Sheahan from the Dubliners has promised to do an interview and he will be bringing his fiddle along. The link to the podcast is here.
It’s wonderful to hear people’s stories about travel and while we are missing this immediate contact with our loved ones and friends – we have the world of books and words to keep us going.
Most authors have that half-finished book in the laptop or a first draft that needs to be fixed if given the time. So with that time, last year I settled down to do just that with my novel Journey to the Heartland. This book is a road trip set in Oklahoma, in America’s mid-west, and tracks the steps of a father and daughter as they discover the history and culture of this lesser known state. It was an appropriate diversion for me and chance to finally complete another novel. Having worked with several publishers in the past and noted the changes in how the industry has evolved, I decided to set up my own company and then I could publish the book at my own pace. Keeping in brand with my travel website, www.thenoveltraveller.com – www.thenovelpress.com was born. I’ve been tinkering with children’s books also in 2020 that I hope to bring out in 2021 under this new imprint.
Journey to the Heartland has a different tone and voice to my previous novels. Therefore I reintroduced my maiden name and it feels right to go by Michelle Walsh Jackson with my new voice. The premise may still be travel but the pace and themes offer a more spiritual read with much to discuss for a book club and plenty to debate. In fact the book has been chosen as the Hope Foundation USA book club read for March 2021 and I’m privileged to be the first Irish author to guest and follow in the footsteps of American authors that include Erin Brokovich. The book club opens for Journey to the Heartland on February 18th 2021 and options will be available to register online from that date.
In a bid to support Irish Independent bookshops, Journey to the Heartland is for sale with kennys.ie and as all shopping at the moment is online it is the best way to buy books – Kenny’s offer free postage anywhere in Ireland. Journey to the Heartland is also available on Amazon for those in the US and UK or readers who prefer to purchase ebooks.
For more information see www.michellewalshjackson.com or www.thenoveltraveller.com or www.thenovelpress.com Buy from https://www.kennys.ie/shop/Journey-to-the-Heartland-Jackson-Michelle
(c) Michelle Walsh Jackson
About Journey to the Heartland:
This is the story of the fragile love between Roz Waters and her visually impaired father, Patrick, a love that is revived on an extraordinary road trip through America’s heartland. The journey is an opportunity for Patrick to impart knowledge and wisdom that Roz is finally ready to hear. Roz’s world is rocked when she meets army officer, Michael Williams, along the way. But his wedding band isn’t the only obstacle that makes their love forbidden. The prairies pale in comparison to the touching journey into each other’s hearts. As time unfolds Roz discovers that she and her father are intrinsically linked to Michael and together maybe they will all find the real Heartland.