Getting to Know You (Again): Kate Kerrigan.

Following on from last week’s post, a review of Kate Kerrigan’s latest novel ‘The Lost Garden’, we have the author here to talk about it! I hope you all enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it. 

Vic x
Kate Kerrigan
This story is based on a true story, how did you find out about it?

The story of the Kirkintilloch Ten – the Irish men from remote Achill Island who men who died in a fire in their sleeping ‘bothy’ in Scotland in 1937 while potato picking in Scotland – had been something that has just been part of my Irish family lore and while looking for a story around the Irish Islands it just sort of emerged from my subconscious and I began researching it – more out of curiosity that anything else. 

As I dug deeper into the story I ambitiously wanted to try to capture something of the terrible grief such a seismic loss would cause in a small community and bring some redemption, some hope into it.

So – I wrote a love story. 

The two young people we meet in the prologue are Aileen Doherty is a daughter of nature, a talented gardener – and Invincible Jim is her beau – a feisty young fisherman.

Aileen and Jimmy fall in love but then are separated when Aileen loses her father and brothers in the fire and Invincible Jim becomes disfigured trying to save them.

 Aileen returns to her island, where she finds solace through restoring a forgotten garden, rebuilding her own life and that of the other grieving women – and Jimmy goes to London to try to get his handsome face rebuilt by the famous war surgeon McKinley.

As these two young people go on their separate journeys they are bound together by the thread of their young love. Because love, even the thinnest thread of love, can never really be broken and if anything death makes good love stronger.

Jimmy is a really interesting character, how did you think him up?

I live in a fishing village in Ireland and was out fishing in my neighbour Jimmy’s boat. We got talking about his childhood on a small island off the Donegal coast and he just totally inspired me with his idyllic picture of the simple, wholesome happy days of his childhood. Jimmy the character just grew out of that. An innocent, adventurous lad untouched by anything bad until he leaves his island – then it all goes pear-shaped for him….

The Lost Garden

My favourite scenes were in London, do you have a favourite scene / part of the book?

I love the ending – the scene on the bridge. I started that book with a picture of the ending and wanting to get there – to write that scene was my motivation right the way the through.
Do you have a favourite character in ‘The Lost Garden’?
I love the gay old farmer John Joe who is mother and father to his niece and nephew. There is so much darkness in Ireland’s history with church and institutional child abuse – I wanted to write about one to the good stories about how children were looked after and loved by members of their family in unconventional sets ups that also happened at that time.

I really loved John Joe too! How long did the novel take to write?

One year – beginning to end – like all of them. I have the germ of an idea and start researching a book straight after delivery of the last one – then as I am editing and proofing it – I research and develop the next one. In September when the whole proofing process ends – I begin the actually writing of the next then deliver around May.  it takes me six  to eight months actual writing time.

Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us about it?
My new book  – working title ‘The Dress’ is set in present day London and New York in the 1950’s and deals in the worlds of online fashion and old-style couture. Nearly finished. A long time since I have written a modern-day setting – so it’s interesting, nerve-wracking – but I’m excited about it and hope my readers will like it. It’s important to keep taking risks to make me feel I am evolving as a writer and storyteller.
Thanks to Kate for taking the time to share her thoughts with us today. Thanks to Kate and her publishers, Macmillan, I have a copy of ‘The Lost Garden’ to give away to one lucky reader of this blog. To be in with a chance of winning, please leave a comment on this post. I will announce the winner on Sunday, 15th June 2014.


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