Several months ago I read a heartwarming and engaging novel, Beneath An Irish Sky, and I enjoyed its fresh take on Irish society and life. The novel is written under the pen name Isabella Connor. Isabella is actually two authors, Liv Thomas and Val Otaneanu. Liv lives in the south of England and Val lives in British Columbia, Canada. The two writers have never met but they worked together to produce their debut novel. Liv is joining me today to answer a few questions about Beneath An Irish Sky.
Welcome Liv. Let’s get started, shall we?
What is the theme of the story and what prompted you to write about this subject matter?
The theme of Beneath an Irish Sky is basically about a young man’s fight for justice and recognition…not easy for a naive young Traveller, when his adversaries are wealthy and powerful. The young man – Luke – isn’t aware that there’s a lot he doesn’t know, or that some of what he has been told, isn’t the truth.
The idea for the story just appeared like one of Joseph’s dreams…no idea what prompted it. It was inspired by actor Joe McFadden when he was in a brilliant mini-series called Sex Chips and Rock and Roll. He played a young Irishman who had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and who had suffered discrimination. Without warning, came the thought that it would be really good to see him playing another Irishman with issues, and the Traveller idea came along with it – how about an Irish Traveller who has a wealthy British father, and suppose the father didn’t know etc. etc. The basic idea really did just fall into place as though it was already there, like something under the sofa, just waiting to be found.
What research did you do for this book?
We gleaned what we could from the internet, and then contacted someone with Traveller connections – thank you, Richie – who was very helpful and corrected us on a few things.
How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
By believing that the characters, and some of the fictional places, were actually real. It’s surprisingly easy to do this when you live with them for so long. And visiting some of the real places, Limerick and Ennis, was a great help, and we had advisors from both Cheshire and Ireland – take a bow Sue O’Reilly and Brigid Killen.
Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
I don’t mind either, but I do like writing from the male pov. Maybe because it’s one way of making a man exactly what you want him to be. 🙂
How do you co-ordinate working with another person on your books?
Emails, telephone calls, and multi-coloured documents, with colour coding for comments, changes, additions etc. We didn’t discover ‘track changes’ until the novel was actually finished and at the editing stage. We were so green!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Liv. I was intrigued to hear that Joe McFadden’s role in Sex, Chips and Rock and Roll sparked the idea for the novel as that series was one of my favourite television programmes several years ago. Interesting to see what you’ve done with it! I know the two of you will release your next novel, An Irish Promise, in November and I look forward to seeing it in print.