Monday, May 12, 2014

Author Interview - Marion Reynolds

Marion Reynold's debut novel 'A Soldier’s Wife' was one of the winners of the 2013 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair Competition, a compelling historical novel, it has been described as 'a dramatic exploration of love, loss, resilience and divided loyalties.'

Welcome to the blog Marion. A Soldier's Wife is set between 1916 and 1922, and was partly inspired by your grandparents and their experiences -can you tell us a little about that? 
When I was growing up, I realised that there were many contradictions in their lives. They were always very pro-British but their children were nationalists and Republican. My grandmother had a relatively privileged upbringing as the daughter of the lodge keeper on Lord Lucan’s estate in Castlebar and lived a glamorous life in India  but returned to a frugal life in in a small house in Dublin.
My grandfather spent fourteen years serving with the Connaught Rangers in  India and fought in Flanders  during WW1 where he was awarded a medal for bravery, yet he never talked about it. On Remembrance Sunday, he wore his medals and a poppy in spite of the protests of is family.

How did you approach your research - did you do it in advance or as you wrote?
I started by researching my grandmothers life through the census and newspaper articles which I found in Castlebar library. Then I researched my grandfather’s military records and discovered things that I hadn’t known. For instance, family lore always said that he escaped without a scratch during WW1. I discovered that he had been wounded twice and posted missing once. I love history so knew most of the background to the Lockout, Easter Week , the War of independence  and the civil war. However, I had to check the accuracy of my knowledge all the time. 

Author Marion Reynolds

 I imagine being from Dublin you were already very familiar with the historical background, but was there anything that surprised you during your research?
One of the things that surprised me was the number of women who were involved in the fight for Independence and the Civil War. They have been airbrushed out of history to a great extent. A good example is Elizabeth Farrell who carried the white flag when Pearse surrendered. A picture taken at the time shows Pears and a British officer and Elizabeth who was almost hidden by the flag. All you can see of her is her feet. In later years when that picture is used her feet are airbrushed out and she is not mentioned. 

A very symbolic example Marion. I've included the photographs below, more on Elizabeth Farrell can be found at The Women's Museum Of Ireland

The elimination of Nurse Farrell

Is place important in your writing?
I didn’t realise how important place was to me in my writing until started this book.  The action in Dublin all takes place in areas that I knew as a child such as Parkgate Street and Infirmary Road. I never lived there as an adult but I recall every lamp post  and doorway with great clarity. I lived near London for eleven years and never wrote a word while I was there. I think it was because I was no longer in a place that inspired me.

And, what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a sequel to “A Soldier’s Wife” which takes up the story of the family in the 1930’s and includes one member of the family being involved in the Spanish Civil War. It might sound like I am interested in war but I am only interested in the terrible way that war divides families  and communities.

Have you a favourite inspirational writing quote?
I use this quote the beginning of my book. It is from Paul Ricoeur, the French philosopher.
History begins and ends with the reciting of a tale. Our future is guaranteed by our ability to possess a narrative identity, to recollect the past in historical or fictive form.
I think that quote explains why I write historical fiction.

It certainly does, thanks Marion and best of luck with your debut. A Soldier's Wife can be purchased HERE


Old Kitty said...

I always find state controlled propaganda in the form of erasing someone off a picture literally really creepy! I remember looking through a book that detailed Stalin's attempt to erase people from pictures and unfortunately from this earth totally disturbing! Like that North Korean dictator is doing now. Creepy! :-(
A great comfort is that of course these "erased" people are always remembered! Hoorah!

Anyway! Lovely to read about Marion's Soldier's Wife! What a story and history too. All the best Marion!

Take care

Words A Day said...

It is, and thanks for commenting Old Kitty :)