The Stones Corner Tetralogy, Turmoil, Darkness (Light and Hope)
I remember well my first article for writing.ie. in April this year. The subject was around the difficulties of penning a novel about the Northern Irish Troubles, given it’s still so sensitive and painful a period in Irish history. Well, it’s hasn’t got any easier; however, I’ve recently completed the second volume of the tetralogy, Stones Corner, Darkness. Light and Hope to follow in 2022/23.
In January 2017, and totally out of the blue, I suddenly decided to write; it felt weird; what on earth! I’d never dreamt of writing until suddenly, I felt a strange desire, a need to put pen to paper. I’ve always read, but the concept of writing a story from my own teenage experiences and others close to me of forbidden love, bigotry, grief, and pain in Derry stirred something profound and emotional in me.
I’ve always embraced change and taken risks, some good, some bad, but writing a novel was something completely different and unheard of in my ever-changing world. Yet, once I decided to do it, that was it! Perhaps this is why Caitlin McLaughlin, one of the main characters in Turmoil, takes risks and wants to better herself. I see a lot of me in her as a teenager, working hard to get the best job she can, making her own clothes, a best friend who wore shoes she could barely walk in and ultimately falling in love with the wrong guy! I want the best for her albeit she’s in hell.
What started as a single novel subconsciously evolved as I wrote. I began to plan two, then three and finally four! The reason for this was as I researched and learned more about Derry at that time, I concluded I could never cover the thirty-year period of the troubles in just two or even three books. It would take four and I’d finish with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement of 10th April 1998 and an end to the conflict. Somehow and I really don’t know how, I have it clearly in my mind where and what will happen in the very last chapter of Hope….!
Being an avid reader, I’ve read numerous books and articles about the dark days of ‘The Troubles.’ Stemmed from my own experiences of the British army raiding our home on multiple occasions – which by the way – provides a hard-hitting first chapter to those who’ve lost family or friends as victims, my dream was simple. I’d tell a straightforward fictional story. A fictitious tale topped and tailed around actual events, that enabled me to immediately engage readers and help them better understand how and why. My goal was to open their eyes to some of the happenings and experiences of daily life during those dark days. This goal, I’m assured from my reviews, has been achieved, and I’m incredibly proud – am I allowed to say that!
Those who’ve read Turmoil and who’ve never lived in the North or, indeed, Ireland tells me they hadn’t realised just how dire everyday life was. It was awful, truly awful, and as I’ve said repeatedly, we should not forget but learn from mistakes made and ensure such atrocities never happen again.
The writing process for Darkness was much smoother in many ways from lessons learnt, but again, at times challenging. How did I remain objective when writing its many plots? I have and will openly admit; there were times when I had to rein myself in. As part of my research, I came across records, newspaper clippings, newsreels, and videos etc, of the many horrific events – it was harrowing. It will never cease to amaze me how people managed to go around their daily lives, but then, most of us know, the human spirit can overcome so much.
And so, how has my self-publishing journey been so far? It’s been simultaneously frustrating, riling, crazy, fantastic, unique, and surreal! I still cannot believe the reviews I’ve received for Turmoil, especially on Goodreads.com, but the one thing I’ve loved more than anything is interacting with readers via social networks and now, FINALLY, in person. I recently had a book signing at Bookmark.ie, Letterkenny, and enjoyed engaging shoppers who bought it.
Whether I share my thoughts on my quest to get into bookshops or not, I’m not sure. But there again, I must, although I may very well get myself into trouble. L This vital sales channel has proven to be incredibly frustrating. Unless Argosy or Gill Books accept Turmoil, most bookshops in Ireland, indie or not because of integrated technology, won’t touch it with a barge pole. Both Argosy and Gill have said no to my numerous requests, albeit they’ve been forthright with their reasoning – COVID.
What to do? If anyone has any suggestions for an indie author to breach these barriers, please tell and email me at: email@example.com.
I’ve tried radio advertising and although fun, alas, no sales. After the euphoria of friends, family and acquaintances buying Turmoil, increasing sales has been challenging and sometimes exasperating! There’s such a fine line of not inundating your readers too much by asking them to leave those crucial reviews (good or bad!), not going all-out
social media mad, with post after post, but being smart and targeting the right
audience with the right message. I’ve been fortunate enough to improve my online
social media, supported by the lovely Cassie at https://www.maidinmedia.com/, who has been first-class at keeping me within the boundaries and promoting the Stones Corner brand.
As to the future, I launch Darkness at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, late September 2021, where I’ll meet those loyal readers who’ve taken a leap of faith and pre-ordered Darkness. I’m so looking forward to sharing a few nibbles and a glass of vino AFTER I’ve read a short passage!
I’m also excited to announce that in partnership with award-nominated writer-director
Ella K Clarke, who, after reading Turmoil, has come up with some fantastic suggestions for a script and getting it on the big screen!
We all must dream, don’t we? Otherwise, life would be too empty!
(c) Jane Buckley
About Stones Corner: Turmoil
Caitlin McLaughlin is just like any other teenage girl: during the week, she works at the Rocola shirt factory in Stones Corner, Creggan, where she has become secretary to her boss’s dishy nephew James. At the weekend she likes music and trips into the city with her best friend, but this is Derry 1972. A simple trip to the shops can lead to life-changing injuries or death, and staying at home can be just as dangerous when the British Troops raid house to house.
Robert Sallis is a private with the Royal Fusiliers recently posted to the city. He’s repelled by how some of his fellow soldiers behave, wary too of civilian feelings running high against the occupying army. Accidentally separated from his patrol in Creggan, he’s discovered by Caitlin hiding in her family’s garden. He expects the worse but having seen enough violence too close to home; she doesn’t give him away. Instead, she prefers to daydream about her charming boss, who has made his feelings for her plain.
A Catholic girl from the Bogside and the Protestant heir to a big local employer…Caitlin believes their love can overcome the triple obstacles of politics, class, and faith in her youthful innocence. Meanwhile, Robert, newly recruited to British undercover forces, is closing in on a terrorist strike in the heart of the city centre.
Order your copy online here.
Synopsis of Turmoil: Darkness:
Once again, Darkness captures an era in Derry/Londonderry in the early ’70s – considered the darkest years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
It reveals the catastrophic fall-out from the doomed Derry City Hotel meeting and its impact on the lives of so many, from the wealthy, vibrant James Henderson to the love-struck factory girl, Caitlin McLaughlin.
The guerrilla war in Northern Ireland rages as it extends to mainland Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Charles Jones, the bigoted Belfast businessman and the revenge-seeking British Army undercover operative IOWA, continue to seek every opportunity to cause distress and misery for the Nationalist papists.
Darkness takes us from the private clubs of London’s West End to the dank hellhole of the 17th century Armagh women’s gaol, built in the style of Pentonville Prison, to the deprivation of Long Kesh men’s gaol eventually set alight by the prisoners themselves. All hope is lost and forgotten until, ultimately, the power of love, truth, and justice steps in to create a new beginning.
Darkness is ANOTHER brutal, hard-hitting, but scrupulously unbiased account of communities on both sides of the sectarian divide struggling to live and love against a background of chaos and carnage.
Stones Corner, Turmoil V1 and pre-order Darkness V2 available now in paperback at www.janebuckleywrites.com