It is my very great pleasure to be part of the launch celebrations for Kate McQuaile’s novel What She Never Told Me which is published by Quercus on 3rd March 2016. What She Never Told Me is available for purchase in e-book and paperback from Amazon UK, Amazon US and from Quercus as well as from all good book stores.
I have a super guest post from Kate describing how fact and fiction can be uneasy bedfellows too.
What She Never Told Me
I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?
Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise’s last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.
Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter’s fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she’s been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.
Making Things Up
A Guest Post by Kate McQuaile
I’ve spent my whole journalistic life working with facts. I check and double-check everything. As I was told many years ago when I was learning how to be a journalist, you don’t write Oxford Circus W1 until you’ve checked the A-Z. And, as one of my American colleagues says, ‘if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.’
Now, after years of being bound to facts, I’m allowed to make things up. If I want to, I can rewrite history. If I decide that I’m going to make life easier or harder for a character in my novel, I can do that, too.
But it’s not as simple as that, as I’ve found during the writing of What She Never Told Me. Characters have their own reality, their own way of thinking and doing things and it’s not easy to steer them in a different direction once they start to come to life. So maybe I’m not really getting to make things up at all once the book starts to develop.
And, despite the freedom from rigid dependence on facts that writing a novel can give, I’m finding it hard to alter the habits of a lifetime. I find myself spending hours checking everything that I might refer to, from the colours of regional buses in Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s to the daily tide tables and the weather. Is anyone really going to care whether there really was a major storm on a particular date? Maybe not. But I’m still going to check.
I can’t help feel slightly guilty about having taken a little bit of licence with some of the buildings that get a mention in my first novel, which is set in a real town. I have my protagonist, Louise, looking directly from one side of the river towards some apartments on the other side. In reality, the apartments I mention don’t exist on the other side of the river, but I wanted them to exist and so I put them there.
For the second book, I’ve gone down the route of inventing a place where the main part of the story takes place, so everything about it will come from my imagination.
But I have taken a bit of licence with the weather — I’ve frozen the Regent’s Canal in London during a winter that was, as far as I remember, on the mild side.
And, in the meantime, the characters are doing their own thing. I started the second book with a pretty clear idea of how it would begin and how it would end. And that idea hasn’t changed. But the characters are developing lives of their own and telling their own stories. They’ve already given me a few surprises.
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