My love affair with the beautiful Andalusia has been going on for most of my adult life, and my fascination with the modern history of post Franco Spain is a biproduct of that. Like every war, The Spanish Civil War showed badness and goodness on both sides, but the struggle and suffering of Republicans under Franco lasted longest, and left heartbreak and loss in every family.
Mosaic, my newest novel, follows the story of Sonia Almez from my previous book, Scarred. It tells how she arrived in Donegal in Ireland as a sixteen-year-old refugee from Malaga in1946. I invented the town of Balcallan from memories of every childhood summer spent in Falcarragh in Donegal. I have also brought Shona Moran aboard, from my first book, Summer Triangle, where Shona arrives in Spain in 2020 and helps to unravel her grandmother’s story. Although I have woven in the characters from my previous books, this story of Sonia and her granddaughter Shona is written as a stand-alone novel.
Following an accident seven years ago, I struggled through many spinal operations but was left disabled. I would never be able to teach in Primary school again and it would be years of struggling with pain and medication before I was able to take up the pen and write another novel, but my silver cloud was having more time to spend in Spain.
Before my accident, I had begun a story about an elderly couple I had seen sitting on a bench in Plaza De España, in Benalmádena, Malaga. I had imagined their background and invented a connection to Ireland. Years later, I was driven to expand their story. I was extremely lucky to have the librarians in Benalmádena library on hand to access books for me and to organise interviews with local historians. I became enthralled with soaking up all things Andalusian, spending days exploring the cities of Malaga, Seville, and Granada, which fed into the essence of Mosaic.
I facilitate creative writing classes for emerging writers, and I give writing workshops on Writing for Wellbeing; so not writing myself went against everything I was teaching others. I am indebted to other writing friends for rekindling my writing with their constant encouragement. We are blessed to have such a supportive writing community in Ireland, many of whom were on hand to help me reach out to writing once more. Although I was out of the loop for several years, I hadn’t been forgotten.
The strength I’ve been given from my writing has helped me to start life anew. The writing became cathartic, and although there were many days when I couldn’t sit and write, word followed word until eventually there was a novel.
Now Mosaic is out there in the world, and as I hold a copy in my hands for the first time today, I’m feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to those who helped me to get back to writing again. The pen is your best medicine.
(c) Carolann Copland
Once … in Andalusia, teenagers Enrico Sanchez and Sonia Almez made a vow of love everlasting. Then Sonia’s brother was murdered by Franco’s Nationalists, and Enrico, filled with a burning need for revenge, set out on a dangerous path.
Now… Sonia must flee Spain and struggle to build a life for herself in Ireland. Enrico is on the run, hunted by both Nationalists and Republicans.
They know that they should be together, but is their love worth doing something unthinkable?
Shona Moran travels to Spain to find her grandmother’s family and the sense of belonging she has always yearned for. As she unravels seventy years of Sonia and Enrico’s story, Shona unearths more than she expects.
Should the truth about her grandmother be told? Or is a lie sometimes the only kindness?
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