I’m the author of a debut novel set in Belfast and the Isle of Harris, in the early 70s.
As a teenager living in Northern Ireland at the height of the conflict, I spent my days desperately wishing for peace. When the violence showed no signs of ending, I left. A cop out, some might say. For me it was the right decision because it took decades before peace became a possibility.
The main character in my book is a young peace campaigner. Unlike me, who hightailed it out of the province at the first opportunity, she tries to change things for the better. She’s more courageous than I ever was and gets to do things I would never have attempted. She refuses to give in to the pressure to take a side.
Back then it was hard not to take a side. You’d invariably end up sticking with your own kind (Catholics got together with Catholics; Protestants with Protestants). It was an unwritten rule. The young peace campaigner in my book breaks the rules, and by doing so, finds herself pitted against a younger sister with paramilitary links and a very different vision of how to solve the conflict.
I was thrilled to have my first book, Soldier Doll, longlisted for the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition. This encouraged me to forge on and begin polishing the manuscript. I'm now seeking agent representation.