Friday, January 12, 2007


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.

Happy Friday!


  1. (sigh) Ireland. Do you need a traveling companion? (grin)

    Melissa, I'm envious of your affinity for history. It's going to make for some excellent novels. :D

  2. Wow, that's a heavy topic. A friend of mine at university grew up in Belfast and he was pretty scarred emotionally by the conflict there. I think it's a great idea to set your story further in the past and that's a cool angle re the IRA and the Germans. I'm sure you'll do it all justice :-)

  3. Well my husband is from Northern Ireland. His best friend's dad was shot dead at the school doors--primary school and he never saw his friend again.

    The father of another of his family friends was shot dead accidently. They got the wrong guy.

    I think it would hard to have a modern day IRA hero. Historic maybe. But that's just me. I'm sure you'd handle it with emotional deftness.

    There's a good book-- 50 Dead men walking by Martin McGartland. Very informative.

    And another thing. My hubby NEVER talks about it. We've been together 16 years and he's never brought the subject up. Just a little information that might help LOL. Oh--and it is lovely, especially the Antrim coast.

  4. Toni - Wow. I am not surprised that your husband doesn't talk about it.

    I think my WW2 novels would probably not have an IRA member for a hero - that would be too difficult to do, I think. But I'd like to incorporate it somehow. I think there's lots of possibilities out there. :-)

    Funny - Antrim is where I set my novel!

  5. Oh my gosh, I set a children's story in Antrim, too! :D

    I read and loved Roberts' Jewels of the Sun also; there's just something lovely about Aidan, isn't there? The 2nd in the trilogy, Tears of the Moon, is also very good (IMO), but I didn't like the final book as much (Heart of the Sea).

    We're also on a quest to go to Ireland. Maybe summer of 2008.

    Good luck with your story concept!

  6. A trip sounds wonderful, pack me in your suitcase please heheh

  7. Anonymous1:59 AM

    Hi! You did a good site.

  8. Pitt had such a lousy accent too.

    My dad talked about being stationed in Northern Ireland (I have some pretty tatting he brought back), and how they were told they couldn't cross the border into the Republic because they stayed neutral.

    Nora's books are wonderful - I bought them in hardback (bookclub) because I wanted to keep them. Tears is my favorite and I also lost interest in Heart - it was almost like she'd run out of ideas and was just doing the third one to complete the trilogy. But I've read Tears over and over.

    Ah yes, Northern Ireland is tragic. I've read some interviews with Roma Downey where she talks about how the conflict touched her. And I give to the Ulster Project every year.

  9. My two fave books about Ireland are A TERRIBLE BEAUTY and TRINITY. I think they're both by Leon Uris. You've probably got them already. If not, they're awesome!

  10. I would love to go to Ireland. The pictures, descriptions, etc. look and sound so beautiful.

    Good luck with an Ireland based novel! You need to go there - after all, it's research!! :)

  11. This conflict was also one of my "pet" projects while I was in school, and I researched different aspects as often as the coursework allowed. My family comes from N. Ireland, so I've always been interested.

  12. Every one talks about the Tears trilogy, but have you read the 'Born in...' trilogy? 'Ice' is one of them. The hero is a guy called Roarke too ;) I enjoyed them as much I think, though the were earlier books.

  13. Melissa,

    I'm sending you all kinds of good vibrations to help you find your notes and manuscript. Wish I could go to Ireland with you as you do some of your research. Best wishes to you getting your manuscript done. It sounds like a fun project.


  14. Definitely you need a trip to Ireland, Melissa! Don't you think? Then you'd know for sure if you were ready to write the book. Regardless, it's a great excuse to travel!

  15. There's a wonderful writer's colony in Ireland -- you can stay and write for a few weeks at a time, in a small rural section. I'll try to dig out the info.


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