My second book has just been published by Poolbeg Press. And I’m thrilled to say the least. It has always been at the back of my head to write a book, and here I am today with two books published.
Having worked as a social worker with HSE and later Túsla for many years, I resigned a few years ago.
At first I found it difficult to consider a life without work. I loved my job.
But there I was at home, taking it easy, avoiding stress at all cost. I had previously viewed my writing as a hobby, a therapeutic support.
So I sat down to take a look at what I had started many years before. Rooting through old folders while clearing out my desk – I found a manuscript I had written some years back, a lot of years back – a children’s book called The Buzzy Bees, which was set between the crevices of the heavy Virginia creeper growing on the back wall of my garden. A story about the various insect characters living there side by side. Good times and bad times. Such is life. The brazen wasps who were bullying the busy working bees. The snails, the ants and beetles, and everyone else living alongside each other in their tiny homes on the wall. I had written it as a metaphor to assist children with the trials and tribulations they may encounter. And in the story the bullies got their comeuppance in the end.
I came across a lovely letter from Poolbeg Press, written to me in response to my submission of The Buzzy Bees back in the day. Poolbeg, along with each of the other publishing houses I had submitted it to, had each taken the time to send me letters. It didn’t matter that they were letters of rejection. They had taken the time to reply and I appreciated that. The letter from Paula Campbell, gave me the confidence to try again. And apart from being at home with my family what else was I at? So I sat down to write. Looking at bits and pieces I had written over the years, I surprised myself to find articles that I had long since forgotten.
I found a few chapters I had written about a girl living in a troubled marriage. So I named her Daisy. And the book followed. As the characters were formed, the story took on a life of its own. And before I know it I had 90,000 words.
One area of division in the world of fictional storytellers has been described as the Pantsers and the Plotters. Pantser meaning, on the seat of your pants, sitting down to write, not knowing where the story will take you, letting the story flow wherever it wants to go. The word Plotter on the other-hand speaks for itself. The author has a plan, a plot.
I would say I am somewhere between the two. I sit down with a basic idea and as I write the characters take on a life of their own and write their own story. I find myself thinking of the what if’s and the what not’s in the meantime and grow the book from there.
When I had finished my debut book The Blue Washing Bag, or should I say when I had thought I had finished it. I decided to submit it. I bought a copy of The Writers and Artist’s Year book and scrolled through the various publishing houses, attaching sticky notes to the various publishing companies that caught my eye. I was in no hurry. After some time I submitted the first three chapters to Poolbeg Press. As my book was set in rural Ireland – I figured that an Irish publishing house would be the way to go. And my book certainly fitted the historical fiction genre.
When I got the email requesting the full manuscript I was so pleased. I heard back from Poolbeg some weeks later offering me a three book contract, I was on cloud nine. What a feeling. Paula Campbell the publisher had assigned me to their editor Gaye Shortland, from whom I have learned so much. But there was a lot of work to do. Gaye helped me to question, pointing out where she felt I needed to add a piece, or remove a piece, and all without taking my voice. She questioned the story where I needed to expand on a section, or clarify a point. The rest is history.
I am forever grateful to Paula Campbell and her team at Poolbeg for welcoming my work. I had such reservations when offered the three book contract. I doubted that I could ever produce more than one book. I had serious doubts. A one book wonder. But I kept on going. And along came my second book Between Love And Betrayal.
They say everyone has one book in them. I believe this, but it’s getting this book out and down on the page that poses the challenge. One might imagine a story from start to finish, but that’s the easy part. It’s getting to sit down and stick with it, that’s the trying part. And writing is a solitary process.
In my head I have used every excuse – such as: make a call, take a call, make another, feed the dog, tend the garden, clean the house. Wherever my mind wanders, I tend to follow. I hear my friends voice saying, “Mary, bum on seat.” Discipline has never really been my strong point. Realising that every book I write is a learning process, a journey, an opportunity to expand beyond what I thought I was capable of. I had dismissed writing as a hobby, a therapeutic support.
My first book was published on Amazon in September 2020 during Covid lockdown, and in some ways lockdown curtailed me enough to concentrate on the task ahead and enjoy the process. My second book was published in February 2022. I look forward to seeing my books in print. I am grateful.
And here I am, about to write book three. I hope you enjoy my writing. It’s not easy starting out as an unknown writer, but it feels right. And I have Poolbeg Press to thank for that.
(c) Mary Clancy
About Between Love and Betrayal:
When Lucrezia Romano strides into the hotel in London where Connie Stapleton works, she steals her heart on the spot and, amongst artists and free spirits, the two lovers become enmeshed in a covert world.
Moving to New York, their plans for a life together are soon thwarted as the Wall Street Crash rips the economy apart. Penniless, Connie convinces Lucrezia to return to Italy temporarily while she herself goes back to support
her young sister in Ireland.
As WWII rages through Europe contact between the two diminishes. Will their love survive the years ahead?
A loud-mouthed New Yorker, Darlene Taylor, arrives in town. She meets fun-loving teen Agnes Foley, whose best friend Norah Gorman is earmarked by her family to enter a convent. All three become caught up in Connie’s life. Darlene and Norah, however, find themselves struggling against dark forces in their own lives.
The resilience of the heart is tested, alongside the power of true friendship as the unimaginable occurs. Through love, betrayal and sacrifice, a new world unfolds.
Order your copy online here.