When I was in undergrad school, I worked for the head of the theater department for my work-study job. We were putting on a modern-day production of Romeo and Juliet with the setting in Northern Ireland. It was my job to research the conflict and come up with a lobby display for the production so that when people came to the play, they could get a sense of the conflict by lingering in the lobby before the play and during intermission. That was when I first started to become interested in the Northern Ireland conflict and Ireland in general. (And the lobby display turned out awesome.)
My senior year of college, my best friend and I went to go see The Devil's Own with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford. Even though the movie is less than stellar (Pitt plays a member of the IRA who comes to America and lives with a cop played by Ford), it sparked an idea in my head for a novel. I again started researching the Northern Ireland conflict and religiously followed the news everyday. When I started working at a newspaper out of college, I had access to the AP news, so I could keep in touch with all the peace talks going on at Stormont Castle. I loved the plot of my novel and went deeper and deeper into the history of Northern Ireland. I even applied to go to graduate school at Trinity College in Ireland. Alas, I was rejected, but I did try. ;-)
In the end, I had to abandon the story because I didn't feel that I was emotionally ready to write it. While researching the conflict for the Romeo and Juliet play, I focused on the children and how they were affected by it all. And it's a very gritty, emotional subject. In fact, I became so immersed in my research that I had to back away from it for awhile - it was literally leaving me depressed.
I'm reading Nora Roberts' Jewels of the Sun - and it takes place in Ireland. She has successfully managed to transport me to Ireland. Her setting, her description, and her language immerse you in the story and in the land itself.
And while reading last night, I had the urge to dig out my old notes and manuscript. Unfortunately, since my office is undergoing a renovation, I have no idea where they're at. But I'm wondering if I could now be ready to undertake this story. It's been ten years since I started it and lots of things have changed in my life, perhaps enabling me to have the emotional maturity to write it. I think I have a strong plot - but perhaps I just wasn't ready to write it at the time.
And now, I have all sorts of ideas to write novels set in Ireland or Northern Ireland during World War II. The IRA was involved with the Germans since, naturally, they were fighting England. I'm anxious to dive into more research on this subject, as well.
I'm also thinking that I need to take a long overdue trip to Ireland. I went to England back in the early 90's, but we only visited England and didn't get a chance to go to Scotland or Ireland. Something to look forward to.
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