Monica McInerney opens her photo album to share some reflections on writing.
One of the great things about being a writer is it is such a portable occupation. I spend many hours alone in my attic in Dublin writing my novels, but the true work goes on in my head, whether I am at the computer or not. Long before I write the first line of a novel, I have spent hours imagining the characters, picturing the locations, hearing the dialogue.
My new novel, The Trip of a Lifetime, is sparked by the main character, 85-year-old Irishwoman Lola Quinlan announcing out of the blue that after 65 years in Australia, she wants to return to Ireland.
When I first began writing the story, I had no idea what would happen after her announcement. Would there be a happy ending or not-so-happy surprises waiting for her in Ireland? Would she regret making the long journey from the Clare Valley of South Australia to County Kildare in Ireland? The only way to find out was to write it.
I worked on The Trip of a Lifetime in many different places over eighteen months, in Ireland and Australia. I hope you enjoy my Trip of a Lifetime photo album.
I first wrote about Lola in The Alphabet Sisters in 2004, and then in Lola’s Secret in 2011. Both books have been published all around the world, with different covers and in many different languages. Lola is flamboyant, wilful, kind, complicated and one of my favourite characters to write.
I made several trips to research possible locations in Kildare, Lola’s home county. The book is set in May (the same month I did my research) when the Irish countryside is lush and green. One of the main fictional settings is the real village of Ballymore Eustace.
I wrote the first draft of The Trip of a Lifetime with a broken wrist, my arm in a cast, after tripping and falling over cobblestones while on my way to visit the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.
I edited it while on a surprise weekend away courtesy of my husband in the beautiful Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. The majestic, high-ceilinged library with its desks and antique lamps was an ideal spot to proof-read.
I did another edit in one of the locations itself – the Clare Valley of South Australia. I was back home on a flying family visit, and brought the manuscript with me.
I was also very happy to share an early draft of the novel with my Mum during that visit to South Australia. I’m a writer because I’m a reader, and I’m a reader because of Mum, so it always means a lot to me to have Mum read my stories as early as possible, and for her to see newly printed editions too.
I started writing the novel on 1 February, 2016. I received my first proof copy on 3 March, 2017 and then my first finished copy on 12 June 2017. Even after twelve books, it is still a very special moment to see my story between two covers for the first time.
The Trip of a Lifetime is dedicated to my dear Irish-Australian friend, Sarah Duffy, who has lived in Kildare for more than 30 years. Sarah helped me so much with my research in many different ways, including introducing me to her aunt Sheila, another remarkable Kildare woman in her eighties, who shared many details of Kildare life with me. These photos are of Sarah seeing the dedication in the final copy for the first time.
Start reading an exclusive animated extract of The Trip of a Lifetime.
Introduce your book club to the huge-hearted Quinlan family.
Hairy Maclary and his friends are known and loved all over the world. But how familiar are you with Dame Lynley Dodd's other creations? There are plenty to discover, and just like Hairy Maclary, they all feature Lynely's uniquely exuberant artwork and gorgeously readable rhymes! Here are some suggestions to get you started.
After an exhausting and unusual 2020, we’ve got plenty of reasons to be grateful for a new year, not least because of the stellar line up of children’s books we have coming your way over the next few months!Read on for a sneak peek at some of the best new children’s books we’re bringing to you in 2021.
Sometimes a story is best told alongside a beautiful picture, Here's a small selection of some of our favourite 2020 picture books from local creators.
If you’re planning to head to the shops for a last-minute Christmas here's what destitute gourmet wants you to think about!
If you’re new to the world of audiobooks and aren’t sure where to start or if you’re looking for the perfect book to listen to on your summer road trip adventures, we’ve got some great suggestions for you!
From the influence of family to his political rise and the world events that shaped his presidency, Barack Obama covers enormous ground in his Presidential Memoirs, Volume 1: A Promised Land. Here we break down some of the key themes and turning points.
From inauguration through to Operation Neptune’s Spear, take a look at the milestones covered in Barack Obama's riveting memoir.
Here's a selection of children's stories that have received a big thumbs up from Barack and Michelle Obama.
Ever wanted to know a bit more about Slinky Malinki's friends?
Meet the characters from the beloved children's series.