Doreen Finn: "The World of the Novel Within the World" | Talks at Google



thank you everybody it's really nice to be here it's actually cuz I'm from the outside world it's very cool because my am my working life is not very interesting I'm a teacher so there's absolutely I mean we struggled with Google Docs and ours in our in our school so to come in here and see it all it's actually brilliant and reminded me of the way and kind of an airport you know there's the good this way and you swipe and you're tagged and yet III don't know III can hardly get into my classroom in the mornings without losing my keys so I absolutely brilliant so thank you for having me and and thank you for coming along because I know it's a beautiful day and when I was coming in earlier I saw absolutely oceans of people along the canal and you know every green space is covered with bodies and I thought god it's good to be nobody here so thank you for making the effort onufry a hot Friday afternoon and I think we're gonna have a nice weekend as well and it's actually kind of pre siient that at the way there is so lovely today because um the book did this book and I think you do all have a coffee I think is set in this sort of it's almost a cultural myth at this stage in our heirs history the summer of 1976 and I don't think anybody in the room barmy was actually alive in 1976 but I was I was a very small child and I don't really remember it but um I I do remember the heat because we went camping my parents had they decided that because this was you know this is what you did in the 1970s and you know there weren't like package holidays weren't the way they are now and people didn't go on long haul travel but you know people count so my parents bought if you can imagine this a 3-bedroom tent that had a wardrobe and a living space and it was absolutely huge and and we went away in that and I remember the heat of it and I remember the heat of being inside that canvas tent and I remember getting sick one night just from the heat and but you know I I was so small and that it didn't occur to me that this wasn't normal and it's not normal in Ireland and and and here we are again in the middle this so as I said 1976 I decided to choose as my backdrop for the book because what I didn't want to do was write about the rain and at the book is the book is about it's about many things but because it's narrated by a child you see the story through the eyes of this nine-year-old child whose name is Megan and so her the story of what happens it's kind of filtered through her experience and the heat is the backdrop and her mother more of whom I will explain later her mother begins this very tentative affair with an American man he's a visiting professor and he has his own family and of course it all leads to chaos and but I thought I was thinking at the beginning I can't you don't really imagine passionate affairs in you know late January in Dublin okay you know when it's dark at 4 o'clock and everyone's miserable and bundled up and you don't see an inch of skin except maybe for somebody's nose it's not really passionate and it doesn't lend itself to this this notion that you know you can fall in love and you can have this really passionate affair and then it can just sort of disperse at the end of the summer and off you go and it's a bit like holiday romances all right most of you have probably had a holiday romance at some point whether it was an Irish College or whether it was on leaving sir chocolate isn't it true or you know you went away maybe without your parents or with your parents you've probably met somebody and hooked up with them and it was absolutely amazing and then you came home but it's like if you go off for a weekend in a mobile home in Wexford you're probably less likely to have a big passion holiday romance because it doesn't lend itself to it so I decided that I would go with this lovely period in Irish history that is nearly it's kind of like Woodstock you know it's even people who weren't alive in 1976 were there for the heatwave and and of course now we know that this this isn't natural like last summer wasn't natural and unfortunately if it's going to continue this summer it's not natural either and they they say and I can only cite you know so a book I read about this when I was researching the book but it is said that 1976 and this ridiculously long extended period of heat was one of the first signings its first signs and the first warnings of global warming and that's actually quite frightening because this is 43 years ago and so all these signs that have been building up and that we as a global community have chosen to ignore or not us personally but it has been ignored and it has been ignored on our behalf and now we find ourselves with the you know heating planet and heating oceans and melting everything and it's just it's actually very frightening if you think about it wouldn't you agree I think it's frightening cuz there's only here we can't pack up and go anywhere else so we still have to deal with it and do our best but 1976 they say it was was one of the first standout signs of global warming and there was an awful lot that we didn't know him there was no there you know there were some scientists in the u.s. mostly who were looking at the the changing world temperatures and thinking something's not right but this was it was so small I mean 1976 was pre I mean it it was the modern era but in Ireland you know which was definitely pre the world that we live in now pre globalization pre eighth amendment pre you know gay rights and marriage equality and all of those really important markers that we have in society today so things like you know I came across this phrase global sorry not global em urban heat island has anyone heard of urban heat island you have excellence is anyone else well I never heard of it either but I came across it in this book or this article I read on there on global warming and urban heat island is the reason why a city is always much much hotter in a heatwave than a rural area emits because the building's absorb the heat and then they throw it back out so it's like a double whammy of heat and now we know that even if we haven't heard the term global or a sorry urban heat island we know that sensation don't we it's like Manhattan is one of the the best examples and if you've ever been in Manhattan in June or July it's the one of the world's great greatest examples of this phenomenon of M urban heat island and so I were but I couldn't use the term in the book I did use it and then my editor sent it back to me with a big red mark saying you can't because there was no such there was no such thing in 1976 I mean they people did not know about global warming so they certainly didn't know about urban heat island and other stuff you know the way you just you know you just threw things in the bin and where do they go don't know did it matter no and now we're we're much more conscious so I think I certainly get terribly worried and anxious and depressed when I think about the destruction of the planet but then I also think it's it is kind of brilliant that we are all conscious of us because we are aren't we you know do you I don't need to ask do you recycle and do you think about you know where things go and we're aware of you aren't you the plastic and the ocean and the microbeads and all of this this was not the case in in in in 1976 when the book was sat so even though doomsday is sort of always being touted it we are much more aware and I think that that is a good thing that can only be a good thing all right so M so that sort of that the background of the book and you know what were we doing in 1976 we were listening to the doors and Pink Floyd and the Ramones Elton John got his only number one until 1990 a with don't go breaking my heart which is a duet with Kiki Dee if Bohemian Rhapsody the song that that was 1976 so there's loads of really cool music Paul McCartney had wings the Beatles were gone and you know glam rock was still there and you Jim Morrison was dead but the the doors were still we're still being played widely so it was you know it was a good time musically and then my m-my my narrator Megan her mom is an artist and she was a folk music aficionado so she was listening to Bob Dylan Joni Mitchell and Carole King Simon and Garfunkel and and it's it's funny because this is the music that my parents listened to probably your grandparents listen to em it's it you know and it seems so immediate in many ways and yeah you 43 years massive amount of time as well alright and and I looked up as well the the films that were in the cinema and rocky was a rocky and taxi driver the Scorsese film Bugsy Malone the Ullman and The Omen was doubly lucky because the book was also the biggest seller of the year and when the film came out so where it was you know it again and when we think about these things it this is kind this is olden islets and yet it's still it's still relevant alright so that's sort of the background of the book so what I'm going to do is I've divided the my hour into sort of four four sections so I'm going to give you a good two to three readings for you is that okay do you like being read to do you I love it I love it and and do you do any of you listen to audiobooks ever alright yeah you do yeah I discovered audible am a couple of years ago there's a book blogger who's been very kind to me and unlikes my books and she switched me on to audible and I haven't heard of audible you're probably all audibled up but I wasn't unlike so I got audible and it's a Marvel you know when I go for a walk or I don't run but I do walk a lot and and I have audible going and it's just brilliant on that I think it's it's very it's I think it brings us back to that time when we were read to his children nearly pre-reading and my children are eight and ten and they still like to be read to they would never admit that publicly but don't they wouldn't at all but they they love it and I think it's very it's nearly soporific that's it's just nice so if that's alright I would reach you three times so you'd have three bedtime stories at two o'clock in the afternoon and and then I'll talk a little bit in between the readings and then the last sort of 15 10 15 minutes or so M answer questions and I hope this loads the questions because it's nice it gets that it means that you're you're not just passively sitting there going on guard lines you could finish and if you if you've something to ask me and you can ask me anything at all I have no problem at all so the first reading it's going to be the prologue and a couple of pages of the first chapter and and and then I'll talk a little bit more and my second section is going to been good you look at feminism and just sort of in in the Irish context and the thing is you know I do write in the Irish context because I am from here I have lived elsewhere but I think you our own the local is always global it can be applied globally as well so please don't feel if you're not from Ireland that you know this is in any way irrelevant because it hopefully it's not how many of actually before I read how many of you are not from Ireland aha interesting what nationalities have we Romania and Germany India America England anyone else Nigeria yes all right and the rest of you were all born in Ireland Galway all right anyone else from outside Dublin with anise Cork I'm half cork my father's in Cork and I'm never alive forget it anywhere else kill kami okay brilliant I'm pardon Belfast okay brilliant as well all right so we're very multicultural aren't we and the feel is it's the way forward isn't it and it's so funny because when then when I was a child everyone looked like me and in my children's school there are I think it's 71 nationalities and they go to this tiny tiny little primary school and there are children who are either from other countries who were born to parents from other countries but I think we have 71 nationalities between parents and students that's amazing absolutely is it the way forward it's it's the only way I've pulled a marker out so for my second reading I'm going to need just about a minute of patience while I find my my piece but this is the prologue and I read it a little bit into the first chapter as well my father was disappeared he didn't disappear himself it was done to him he had no control over it and he was gone before he knew about me before he had a chance to meet his only child his name was Philippe and he was bolivian my mother met him in art college in Dublin and they fell in love Philippe was a photographer a brilliant one apparently he'd left Bolivia because of the Shunta and because he was on a list of some sort a list of wanted people the ones who went against the military who spoke out about atrocities who stood up publicly for what was right men and women no one was spared Philippe was marked because he had photographed protests by the miners and had them published in foreign newspapers his father had publicly criticized the president before I was born he went back to Bolivia he took photos of military brutality of mothers whose sons had been taken away lost they safari theatres they called the ones who vanished they were disappeared gone into thin air never to be seen again except they weren't anywhere near thin air they were buried in spots around Bolivia no crosses marked their resting places no flowers were laid and Families spent the rest of their lives seeking the truth bit like me I suppose my mother never told me any of this mind you in fact she never told me anything at all about Philippe instead it was left to me to find about out about him to sort through the pieces of the puzzle and complete the picture clues dotted our house photographs paintings books old cuttings from newspapers brittle and yellowed it wasn't easy I was only nine that summer up until then I hadn't worried too much about my father we lived our lives without him and it didn't matter to me I was a child the patterns of my life worse at the rhythms slow and undemanding my mother my grandmother and I lived together and we were happy mostly fathers didn't really figure until Beth arrived Beth Jackson would have questions and curiosity making me think about things that hadn't bothered me up to them Beth with her New York sensible and her bohemian parents the changes that were wrought the Americans brought us many things that summer new food cocktails quesadillas and margaritas frittatas and mimosas our tongues tied on the unfamiliar sounds they bestowed upon us new music that made my mother's small record player judder in the swelter of those white heat wave nights Led Zeppelin Pink Floyd The Ramones The Doors such a change from the music we had a pitch you Lee listen listen to to up to then they gave us new ways of looking at the world broke us out of our Irish slumbers the Americans gave us truth though we may not have liked it at the time the truth has a funny way of outing itself especially when we go to extraordinary lengths to hide it even from ourselves like the heat during the relentless sunshine if those months the truth emerged vapor like and shimmering like the heat it was insistent pressing itself on us demanding our attention it could no longer be ignored and we were never the same afterwards July the ad and the evening paper was short and to the point self-contained garden flashed two bedrooms close to city centre available immediately I wondered why it mentioned the fresh white paint on the walls the tiled hall door the new front door Jim our handyman had replaced our old splintered door with its peeling paint and in its place was a door he'd salvaged from somewhere else Jim had sanded it replaced the broken get pane with new bubbled glass and painted it red claret it said on the Tim my grandmother Sarah said she had paid for the add by the letter so anyone interested in the finer details of the house could see for themselves when they came to views at 9:00 I had no interest in thinking about letter count in the small ads it was far too hot anyway the heat palpitated wrapped tightly around the still summer days Sarah made me wear a Sun Hat a ridiculous thing made of leather that my mother had been given as a present from South America years before it was a farmer's hat or a ranchers to keep the Sun off while galloping across across grassy plains definitely it wasn't meant for an Irish child the crown was too big for me the brim wide and flat my mother liked South America she had faded newspaper photos on her studio wall of miners strikes in Bolivia pictures of the Ondes a painting of a cholita in national dress a line of small paintings of tango dancers she had done years before blurred to show their movement across the page hung in little wooden frames on the wall they've been there since I was a baby and even though they were kept out of the light they were starting to show their age they're at their age edges curled the red of the girls dress is less vivid than it had been alizarin crimson paint was called my mother Gemma still had a tube of it well squeezed now the remaining paint drying inside the small metal casing Philippe his mother was Argentinian a dancer Philippe taught my mother had to tango I imagined her dark hair and a bun arose between her teeth tapping out rhythms on a wooden floor with hard sole shoes she didn't like to talk about any of it Bolivia South America the tin mines so I didn't ask her instead I looked it up in the encyclopedia Bolivia was in the southern hemisphere so they had their winter when we were in the middle of summer it was famous for Sol flats for having the highest competent city in South America and for being the place where Che Guevara died Gemma had a poster of him on the back of her attic door all cigar black bear a black beard blacker beret Philippe had met him once Gemma said the details were fuzzy and though I pestered her she never had much to say about it it was hot in Bolivia but it couldn't have been as hot as it was in Dublin that summer Sarah got up extra early each morning to do the gardening and was back in the house by breakfast I'm dabbing her forehead with a tea towel she said the heat made her feel like an old woman she didn't look that old her hair was going great but she still wore it in a bun at the back of her head her skin was brown from all the garden work and her eyes looked bluer than ever I got used to sweat trickling down my skin gathering the creases of my elbows and knees I tasted salt on my fingers on my lips my eyes hurt from squinting sleep did not come easily despite open windows and a single she's draped across my big bed heatwave was a new addition to my vocabulary we were in the middle of a heat wave if I concentrated hard enough I could almost see the heat in the still air zigzagging and jagged lines around me mixing with the smell of petrol and dirty fumes in the wake of passing buses women found themselves with folded magazines children soaked each other with Gardens the garden hoses tar melted blackly on the roads dire warnings were given in the news in the papers on radio bulletins all saying the same thing water is in danger of running out sara forbade my mother and me from having baths unless it was absolutely necessary she'd accounted all used water into a special bucket kept outside the back door this she poured over the plants each evening my mother remarked that Sara was indeed being a good citizen my grandmother applied that caustic comments should be kept out of the conversation when young ears were pricked I was just surprised that Jeremy even noticed the bucket maybe it was the crazy weather the torpor driving her out of her attic downstairs to where it was marginally cooler heat made people funny that's what I heard Sara say to mrs. Brennan in the shop one day as she handed over money for our groceries or better off in the rain was the woman's reply at least we know where we stand I began to observe people around me my attention tuned the slightest change was Buckley the retired teacher across the road stopped going to daily Mass our family doctor took to wearing sandals to work mrs. dougherty next door did no housework instead she lay on a blanket all day and read books offering her husband sandwiches when he came home from work the husband and turn dug a huge trench the length of the garden and filled it with unsuitable plants eucalyptus de leus some flowers that sara said would die with the first hint of cold weather but the biggest change was in our family I don't know if I can blame the heatwave or if the Americans were the reason it all happened maybe we were just biding our time and they were the catalyst we've been waiting for so the theme of Secrets is is is it runs through through the book and Irish people are absolutely world leaders in keeping secrets oh they are oh you have no idea and and there's Gino water fort whispers yeah nobody's from water but you're probably aware it's a satirical news site and somehow they always get a spot-on and a couple of years ago it was just before Lee over adkar became a tea shock there was a picture of em decani our previous leader and john bruton now it was a photoshopped but there was a picture of Enda Kenny in a workmen's kind workman's dungarees and Joan Bruton who was the our John Burton who was the the tarnished ER and she was in similar similarly attired and the two of them had this massive rolled-up carpet on their shoulders and they're kind of walking carrying and buckling under the weight of this massive carpet and the headline was Ireland finds new extra-large carpet to sweep the secrets under and I kind of stuck with me because it was so pretty and it was so perfect because it it it does that and and we have a history in Ireland of hiding yeah we've we hide everything we hide our history and week and then we kind of take it out and adjust it a little bit so it wasn't that bad we hide we've hidden our children away in homes we've hidden our women our girls who've had babies away in homes as well and and then you know when it all comes to light we think how could that have happened how could that have happened how could we not have known and I mean we're still doing it I mean if you think of direct provision and I sometimes you know want to tear my hair off and I think about it because you know I'm sure in 25 years time we're going to be sitting around going art did that really happen how could we have them how could it have happened and we didn't know and and it's it is a strange thing but it's it's cultural I think I think it's probably more Universal than I then I'm giving it credit for being but because the book is in our session Ireland IIIi just thought I'd look at that and I mean Ireland has always had a difficult relationship with its women and since independence which is you know almost a hundred years ago and until fairly recently there was a very very unhealthy relationship between the state and the Catholic Church and and usually when you have religion and politics locked together it's never very good and it's usually never very good for women which is you know something that is not just in Ireland but in most countries where religion rules because religion tends to be very very patriarchal and very very male-dominated and you know all these rules that are made are usually made to govern women and girls and it's usually in the area of women's sexuality women's reproductive health that we see this so we had the Catholic Church in Ireland and we had Eamon de Valera as government and there was looking back it's nearly in our case was a conspiracy you know to keep women down and I think if you if you render women invisible like if women are invisible and girls are visible what happens because we're still there you know but what we do can be explained away and it can be hidden and there was an interesting again a statistic when I came across when I was researching the book so Megan my nature is 9 in 1976 and she was born in 1967 and that was always going to be the case and but when I was having a look at em 1967 in Ireland I came across this really shocking statistic that 97% of babies that were born in Ireland to single mothers were given up for adoption 97% and it is highly unlikely that all 97% of those women agreed to have their baby was given away and if we're invisible and if women and girls are invisible then you can do that and you nobody can say anything because it's not happening and it goes back to the the Axminster carpet and the secrets being swept under it and it's a very it's a very shocking statistic really and and now I mean this has been coming out for you know certainly for the last decade or so we've seen tomb babies best bra you know that house in in in Cork and we've heard we've had golden bridge in Dublin religious run institutions that took the women and the girls and hit them and they had them you know kind of their shame was hidden and their their shame was theirs and it wasn't ours as a nation it was theirs and they had to pay for it and there was no there never seemed to be repercussions for the men and the boys who put the women and girls away or who got them into the situation that necessitated their removal from sight and I think when you do that to women and when you make rules that govern them that's what happens you you you have the power you keep the power and you take it from them and it's it's strange and you know the decisions are not made in our best interests they're made you know to keep up appearances and to keep this idea of normal sleep whatever normalcy is and I came across this em when I was preparing for today I came across this it was called a papal encyclical written in 1930 because contraception was outlawed in Ireland actually outlawed so it wasn't that it was you know being done in secret you couldn't get contraception that law came in in 1935 so Ireland in terms of being a republic and the democracy was still very new and very young but contraception was outlawed and there was a vow that we would cherish all the children of the nation equally obviously that didn't happen and and if you wanted contraception well you didn't get that was it and that was why that is simply why the the families were so big I mean my mum is one of four so that's that that's modest you know for an Irish family and you know we'd say from the nineteen forties at my father also one of four but my mother's aunt had 17 children two sets of twins and um 13 children and she had two other children that died at birth no woman no matter how much in love you or her and no matter how much you love children no woman should have 217 children but that's what happens when you didn't have access to contraception I mean and we it's stuff we take for granted obviously you're not going to well first of all I suppose you know there was that the religious aspect of wait until you were married have sex and if you didn't wait till your marriage you probably got caught action and um but when you were married it was just baby after baby after baby and if you rapport it was even worse because you know multiple to many children will keep you and nothing will keep you in poverty I think more than a huge family so this is the papal encyclical this is what was read this this was adopted in Ireland in 1930 any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is no offence against the law of God and of nature and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin that was Ireland in 1930 so if you went against that and committed grave sin and then you know ended up with the proof of your grave sin well you had to be put away because you couldn't you couldn't be there so it was it was it's very means awful and you know obviously it's we couldn't be any worse but where we are now but this is our society is built on the backs of all these women and girls that went before us so in the book Megan's mother JAMA I referred to in the opening is a single mother and she had Megan when she was 19 and unlike most middle-class educated girls of the time she kept her child and it would have been unheard of or virtually unheard of as I said to you 97 percent of babies in nine in 1967 were taken away but I decided that I would buck that trend and see happened if you did keep your baby and I talked to a couple of people and it's you can't really go up to someone say hi you know you had a baby before you were born in the night 1960s fault was that like it's actually really hard but I worked with a woman who's in her late sixties now and she heard of Abel M she had a baby in 1970 and she had to leave school she was 18 and she had to leave school could wasn't allowed to her leaving certain school she went and did it elsewhere and had her baby and then without question he was taken away the day after he was born and he was gone for six months and at the point her baby was six months old he she had an epiphany and said no you're not taking him and she went and took her back and her baby is my age and he's a friend of mine as well and but she said that her father refused to speak to her and they lived in the house she lived in the house and she and her baby lived in the house but her father acted like she didn't exist so if he shook him into the kitchen he walked out if she sat down on the couch he told her to leave she couldn't watch television with and she was there with this little baby I mean and that's bats in suburban Dublin and you know 1970 and that kind of Cruelty is unimaginable so I decided to eliminate all father's from the family and have a look at the the dynamic so we've got the nine-year-old narrator we've got her 27 year old mother 28 year old mother and her grandmother who's somewhere I didn't give her her age because children usually didn't know their grandmother's age but she's probably about somewhere in our late fifties and the three of them live together in this nice house and it's a it's a two-bedroom do any of you live in Ranelagh do you know Ranelagh well my mom grew up in the house that the book is sat in and it sits on Sanford Road so it's a two-story Victorian but they've got this garden flat and they rented it out that summer and a visiting American professor and we've one American who's my you're my American where are you from Kansas City okay well my family are from New York but the mother is from you max and and they came and and they rented the flash for the summer and well ostensibly for a year but things happen and and nothing really works out so the mother gemma is a single parent and she has lived with I suppose the repercussions of her shame and she just does her own thing she's an artist she she's she's talked about and kind of gasped about what she decides that that's it doesn't matter she's not gonna worry about that and she gets on with doing her own thing and that was you know she there's lots of things like there's an encounter in the shop where she goes oh yeah you know oh you're poor granny oh isn't it dreadful and of course and how's your mother so they eliminate no I eliminated the man from their lives and they eliminated religion so they don't go to Mass and they're much freer as a result and I think they're much happier because you know when you live under too many rules I think it's you know it's not very good for any of us okay I'm just going to do this is my second reading so sort of midway through the book Beth is the am the American child she is 12 but kind of 25 really and there's her mother Judith and her father whose name was Chris and Chris is from Georgia state of Georgia but they live they live in in New York in Manhattan which you could do as a family in the 1970s and and and so there's you know there are these cultural clashes and you're probably you know the weight when you're younger someone who comes from another country it's always different and always a bit exotic and it doesn't matter where they're from could be Scotland oh they're still a bit different and if this you know isn't it true you know we all meet people for honor if we go away and we'll meet someone from a country that we make might not have been to it just makes it makes things a bit more interesting but in Ireland in the 70s I mean Americans were just the epitome of sophistication and advancement and to know them and to see them to talk to them was just unbelievable so Megan anyway is in the garden the back garden with Beth who is the girl at the American Girl and Megan's best friend Daniel lives next door I'm he's lovely and he's he's really into animals and he's sensitive and kind Beth was doing a handstand on the grass she wasn't very good Beth was usually good at everything she attempted so it was strange to see her struggle with something so easy over and over she tried you're doing it wrong I said walking over to her but she flopped down on the grass it's impossible it's easy I said and I showed her how did you do that Beth asked as I brought my legs down I can't get my legs up and they won't say straight I caught her ankles as she tried again and held her up like one of the older girls at school had done for me when I was learning handstands okay put me down put me down her face was red and from exertion that's so hard if you're going to be in the Olympics you need to be able to do it properly I'm sorry as an aside the Olympics were on in Montreal in 1976 that was also huge at the time how did you learn I didn't know you could do gymnastics we tried again Beth's legs were heavy and she swung them into my hands with such force that I staggered under the weight we lay on the grass laughing allowing our breathing to come then Daniel stood over us has had blocking the Sun what are you doing I squinted up at him his face darkened with shadow a jar in his hand handstands I said did you see the gymnastics last night Beth asked she sat up shook her ponytail free and read hide it Daniels eyes travelled the length of Beth's hair jealousy flashed inside me Daniel shook his head Stevie was watching the swimming Daniels television was even older than the one Chris had got us it only worked if you banged your fists on top of it every five minutes that settles The Scream stopped all the way the lines from jumping across his mother kept a tight surveillance around it discouraging her children from watching it too much the work of the devil she sometimes called fothe was honest Daniel and I had tested this theory once when mrs. Sullivan was at a pioneers meeting and we knew we had at least a couple of errors before she returned to the house but with only one channel to look at there wasn't any evidence of the devil just a gardening program all close-up shots of dahlias and compost slug pellets and tulips followed by the news there was a report on the new king of Spain maybe he was the devil in disguise we reasoned but we never got the chance to find out because Daniels sister had caught us and said she was going to tell Nadia this is Nadia common etch the gymnast Nadia lives behind the Iron Curtain Beth announced this was new the only thing I knew about Nadia was her age 14 and her ability on the bars and the beam and not to mention her floor exercises I asked it's a big curtain made of iron and it runs all along the side of Russia if you live behind it you can't get out Nadia Carmen etches out daniel said yeah that's different Beth said impatience coloring her voice she's in the Olympics when they're over she'd go back behind the curtain again there was a boy mommy knew who had an iron lung Beth snorted it's totally different this is an actual curtain and only the government couldn't pull it back if you need to get out well what happens if you try to get out on your own Beth shook her head terrible things they beat you and they starve you and they take all your stuff all of this was new to me Sarah went to great lengths to conceal much of the workings of the world from me the troubles in Northern Ireland the Vietnam War even though that was over now there was something else terrible a curtain you couldn't part with the punishment for trying to open it who does that to you Daniel wanted to know the people who lived there they're called communists America hates them why I asked Beth pulled a face I don't really know my mom says it's because communists hate America and freedom but my dad told her not to be so stupid he likes communists but he's not allowed to say that my mom's afraid he'll say it at his university and then he'll lose his job what else does he say about them my dad says that the Communists are the only ones with any real ideas and that if they were in charge the way they should be then America wouldn't be the world's biggest war machine how can America be a war machine a language shake of her head no clue but it is is that why you're here Daniel asked because of the Communists in the war machine Beth laughs no we're here because my dad's on the transfer what's the transfer it's when your university sends you somewhere else and another professor comes and takes your place while you're gone why I don't know so you can try out other places I suppose he's really clever he's always working and writing Beth's pride and her father was evident but hey you guys she leaned towards us conspiratorial we have to fill the pool Daniel shook his head to account we tried before it's too far away and there's a ban on hoses Beth found a tap in the lane I explained it's right there behind the house plus me and Stevie can open the door in the wall all we need to do is borrow the hose use the lane tap and hey presto a swimming pool Beth touched Daniels shoulder come on down it'll be fun Daniel wasn't ever called Dan that was his father's name and Daniel's mother was determined that there would be no other Dan in her house ever again he left you see when Daniel was young he shook his head I couldn't I'd never get out the door without mommy hearing me we'll just wait till it's really late when everyone's asleep come on it'll be fun no one will know Stevie will come to Daniel's conflict was obvious he was so transparent his emotions swarming on his face I poked him in the ribs he squeezed squirming come on give it a try you never know convincing Daniel to come make me feel braver than I had felt about night swimming up to that point but I be killed no you won't you can always blame Stevie he's smiled that's true okay maybe I will Beth leaned towards us we should go maybe to the canal tonight we need to sort out the hose and have all that ready before we start filling the pool and she nodded significantly towards the French doors we can't do too much while they're around Daniel looked from Beth to me that's okay with me I know G Daniel thrilled that he would join us on our adventure then I gave a sigh to his glance at Beth but she had moved on to other things was already attempting some kind of a slip she failed and fell on her back where she remained still for a moment Daniel shipped a mason jar look I couldn't see anything he shook it again gently a leaf dislodged itself revealing a dragonfly I found this this morning I came downstairs early to put out water for the birds and this was on the wall we admired the creature its bulging eyes its thread-like legs I felt sorry for it trapped in a glass jar even though I knew Daniel would never mean it any harm the Dragonfly swiveled some blinking stare towards us Daniel trailed his finger over the glass behind us Beth gave up trying to do a flip and dropped to the ground the dragonfly disappeared once more beneath the green protection of the sheltering leaf I stretched out on the grass and thought of rain beyond my reach on the patio was a bottle of lemonade and three glasses left by Judas just after Daniel had arrived thirst was suddenly greater than tiredness and I stood up and went to retrieve the bottle and the glasses the house was quiet nursing its cool interior I could hear Sarah upstairs her sewing machine running like muted gunfire the French doors were open the wall curtains a film concealing the inside I could have been a chef why wasn't I a chef tell me tell me I froze lemonade bottle in one hand glass and the other invisible behind the screen of curtains Judith and Kris argued you could have been a chef if you'd wanted I didn't stop you oh no no you've been so supportive oh the perfect husband really it's a bit early for martinis and this don't do this to me don't do this to me rage and resentment gathered like thunderstorms in Judith's voice you always do this I'm not doing anything honey girl you're doing it all to yourself you they couldn't see me couldn't have known I was there but the bottle of lemonade was too heavy and too wet with its own perspiration and the sweat of my heart hand and before I could put it down and slide back to heard Beth and Daniel lay on the grass the bottle slipped from my grasp and smashed on the paving the sound was an explosion and instantly it quelled Judith and Chris's argument in a flash they were both at the door I looked at them beyond them to the inside I held my hand that I'm really sorry the bottle just fell the wet patch bloomed picking up speed as the spilt lemonade spread a sticky residue was drying around me on the paving Judas was quickly beside me with a broom don't worry sweetheart it's only a bottle don't move your feet you don't want to get any bits of glass and them Chris stepped over the sweeping brush and lifted me under my arms and swung me over to the grass he wiped my feet with a piece of paper town then poured water over them that'll wash away any rogue pieces of glass sweetpea he smiled chucked me under the chin did he know that I had overheard him them fighting his voice didn't even sound tired anymore not the way it had when he was in Norris he looked over my shoulder raised his voice not so who's coming with me to get an ice cream Beth and Daniel whooped Chris peered at me coming I nodded and pulled on my sandals Judith was still sweeping the patio as we left through the american's kitchen chocolate or strawberry Chris asked her Jules waved her hand nothing suit yourself on the door on the small kitchen table there was a jug of water and two glasses but no martinis I looked but I definitely didn't see one no olive on a cocktail stick no telltale triangular glass now that's I've actually over overstepped my mark I think in terms of time so I'm going to not do a second a third reading and and I think you know if I if you want to ask me anything this is probably a good time because we're with about ten minutes left and I really hope you do have something to ask because you know I've talked all all day now so it's over to you for reading to us as lovely to be read to and I agree with you it's late so it's a pleasure to visualize everything without having to put in all the work so the one question that I that came to my mind during the last extract that you read was why why did Sarah who who wanted to and only to take us thank you why did Sarah who seemed to be so open to experiences and to other cultures and to travel not want to share any of that with Megan why did she protect her so much well I think because um because Sarah's daughter is Megan's mother and I think because she had seen what her daughter has gone through because if you read the but I hope you do read the book actually but if you read the book you'll see there's this removal it's a double-edged thing because Gemma has removed herself from most not not quite so much from society but she's a painter and so she just works away on her own she has her a couple of friends and then and she does her own thing and um but she has like people talk about her and it seems like oh of course you're one this is a great phrase in Ireland or look at your one as though you know you have no right to be there and there's this notion that poor Sarah has suffered terribly and of course the child I mean the child couldn't be anything but wild not having a father to keep her in line so I think she wants to keep her from knowing about all the other stuff that's happening in the world so I kind of just referenced a few things I had the troubles in Northern Ireland which were absolutely at their peak in the 70s and it was I mean every day every day and it was always the top news item and Vietnam war was over but I reference it because in earlier in the book the Americans are talking about it and other stuff there's apartheid and there was Pol Pot and the killing fields in Cambodia so much was happening and I think Sarah just decided you know what childhood is for being a child and being free and not having to be burdened I think with so much I mean my kids I said this earlier they're small and they know so much you know and I campaigned for repeal last year and so they went to school with their yes badge is my second garden this the little Catholic Primary School that we sent oh but they weren't and it was brilliant but and they know by that they know about global warming and they you know they sort out the recycling and they all of this I think who when I was 10 I mean I didn't know anything I mean it so I think there's a happy medium because children are more anxious today I think than at any other point in history and that's not good but they're also aware and you know they're going to be the citizens of tomorrow so they have to be aware so I think that was why it was more to protect the child yeah great um I'm gonna ask one or two more questions before going out to you guys are you spoken in in the past when talking about your other books about the importance of I'm sure it's not just Irish people but what's left unsaid and the the silences can you tell us about how that influences you when you're writing your dialogue or when you're developing your prose so the look you know that of nonverbal language and and so that tells our so much more than what our words say and our body language so III try to look at that and see what kind of things would people do and you don't get the raised eyebrows have your you've probably don't we're all guilty of us someone you don't like comes in you go have you ever done that yeah so that's what I mean and that tells us an awful lot more if I walk in if somebody walks in here you you know you don't know me personally but if someone walks in here I go you know do I like that person probably not so you can infer all that from just that one gesture and we do that all the time and so what we don't say about somebody can often tell us an awful lot more so that's that's does that make sense solutely um so I'm not sure if we've I'm sure we probably some writers and in the room where people who are interested in that and we know that you have to you have to love all of your characters even the bodies to understand where they're coming from and have a me as you're writing have any of your writers are your characters sorry surprised you yes can you tell us to give us some examples there's a big big event in the book so I I remember when I wrote I can't tell you because it's it's kind of the crux of the novel but when it happened I came to this point in the writing and I thought oh I can do this or I can not do it and without just the book it's still fine but it kind of it's more of a solid yeah so I did this to a character and I yes it was very difficult and I really liked the character okay to do this and what the character through this particular thing was really hard but I still really liked the character okay so you gave him a good a good plot line so that's kind of nice even if you hurt them you gave them a gold yeah I know it's that's odd but it's true when you kind of do terrible things that doesn't mean naturally coming but you know when you do terrible things to your curves or you make them do terrible things and then it's you know but the American girl bats I based on my daughter doesn't know this on a friend of hers terrible she has this hyper hyper sophisticated child who speaks like she's just out of a Nickelodeon show so suck oh my goodness so like any mystery so like I was walking and stuff and then like oh my god nothing like a dummy phone and I mean Americans I lived in the States for five years and in California California's don't really go on like that so anyways so like yeah I'm like my mom was saying like and we're eating candy and stuff and I'm like we were like amazing and it was like where's the coffee so I think it's just an addiction to Nickelodeon you know these I think that's what it is and and so um yeah I based her on like that's very much but I gave her an easier right didn't you do like to like you have to like them all Doreen any anybody like to ask too many questions yeah yeah absolutely what's your name Jess Jess I was just so we'd be curious that I guess what I've got the main plot the story is the affair it's yeah it's part of the story is really about kind of the end of innocence the affair is part of that okay that kind of answer my question so goes gonna ask that wouldn't it be more I guess salacious apart be more interesting if the character was a bit older to kind of experience the affair and probably even more closer to the age of the people you're marketed towards yeah and you know what I actually did think about telling the story through the voice of Gemma who's 28 okay and that would but then things are interesting when we add adults because it's a book like it's not a children's book so when we as adults we know what's going on but the child doesn't really have a clue and she's no there's my mom that's so the night swimming I mean they do go swimming at night because they fill an abandoned swimming pool and they go to the canal the canal here but it didn't run or that they go there in this swim at night but it's it's also motif for what goes on so Gemma sits up at night in the garden with Chris the American and they play rock Awards and they're drinking wine and and they call this night swimming I'm Megan sometimes watches them from above from her bedroom and sometimes she hides behind this big planter on the the deck and listen to them and she's thinking she doesn't really know what's going on but we are hopefully anyway as the reader knows so does that answer it yeah it does it does it's just that I'm thinking like if she was to see the denier older kind of like the talk kinda stops there like oh my mom's just going out to having a good time with whatever whereas it was like an older person don't be like bit more of a thought process there and yeah bit more related I don't know possibly be more available and other people there yeah I think it's that's probably subjective and of course because I create them I know but have a read and let me know know series anyway after me yeah I'm on twitter I'm on everything I'm not on everything but I'm not really and you're the techie people so I'm absolutely a dive so it's we're talking about over time were there any burning questions that anyone like to ask it out one at the back of the room Thank You Jess for your question hi I just wanted to ask a bit about your writing process because I was reading that you had written a draft at one point in six days for a competition and and you work as well so I'm just curious how you fit it all in how you actually got to finish you know I'm kind of all over the place I I'm not anyway organized organized with my hair so that'll give you an idea it's a visual representation of me and I I would love to have space time a writing chair down the back of the garden without Wi-Fi none of those things happen so I'm really good at em deadlines I'm actually very good to deadlines I I prepared the talk at half 11 this morning before like it's was good I because I woke up in a wild panic about half 6:00 this morning I know nothing I had midnight ideas prepared but that's what I would really like cuz I had to nail it down so I sat down and I did it and what happened was with my previous book III booked a commercial for years ago called my very life and I had written a draft a lot of very long draft for that and I entered in a competition and I entered ten thousand words in the competition in the right how many of you are writers as any one writer okay well the writer Center run a competition actually open at the moment it's brilliant it's called a novel fair and it's nothing it's like a cheap way to enter something but you submit ten thousand words of your book and I have no luck trying to get published so I entered the novel fair forgot about it and then in January the middle of January I was longlisted and they said please have the rest of the book ready by Friday this one Jesus Mary Joseph what am I actually want you to do so I got my parents to mine my children I wrote I literally wrote till 3:00 4:00 in the morning every night I've never done it since but yes I wrote I finished so I had written 10,000 word so I wrote about 60,000 words in five six and six days I don't know I actually don't know how I did it without chemical the help I have no idea but I did and I didn't but III got the book published anyway because and they got back to me they said they took ten books and mine was the 11th you know I know so I found out that is only what publishers will be at the novel fair and they named you know 20 publishers so I took six rang them all up pitched in my book and the first people I I spoke to took a job so that's how it happened but that was the six days it was an insanity and it hasn't happened since but it was a deadline and I'm good with deadlines I've enough realize that it's a good thing joined thank you for your question so sure II am we're unfortunately out of time so one one last closing question like a very quick answer if you could like have one one dream or one wish for the writing industry or for education or for women yeah in Ireland what would it be and sky's animus edgewise the limit um I tell you I take it for it sounds I would take it for writing which is very disloyal women and girls I want equality for women and girls that those are that saying and assuming that as a given for writing I would like the big corporate corporatization of writing to sort of lessen slightly and because what it does is it stifles a lot of very interesting writing and interesting voices because we have so many really interesting people writing in Ireland today immigrants we have you know women women of color we have you know the whole LGBTQ society our community and these voices and not all of them are getting through because there is such an emphasis now in publishing on numbers and it's about the fails numbers and you have to be knocking out you know 100,000 books a year or selling woman I'm producing a book a year and it's it's very formulaic and it can be and it's very much sales driven and I think a lot of people whose voices should be out there aren't so I think assuming that women and girls have equality I am going to go for really good proper funding proper funding for the Arts so that writers don't have to double in tribal job and scratch you know their writings and you know get you know an hour and I just something like that a proper there's loads of money in Ireland it's just not being spent in the right areas and I think I would go with that let's not tell me what you're all Googlers that's what you can ask for yeah so if Google could throw us a few quick start publishing I'm sorry ago and job but just for it the kind of 10th or more the less mainstream looking so so so we could split as individuals we can support small publishing houses and independents yes yes shops and less of Amazon because you know we all know about Amazon and independent book shops independent publishers and then you know the interesting the righteous that we don't really expect to read who often I mean there's so much fabulous writing in Ireland and it's not really getting the voice it should okay cool well thank you and thanks again for your time you so much for coming to hear me I am honored [Applause] you

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