Catapulting us into 1970s Belfast in the heart of the Troubles, Eden Burning pulses with conflict and introduces us to a cast of characters we profoundly care about, even when they are warring with each other. Above all, though, it is a novel with a true spiritual and emotional heart. –Rachel Connor, bestselling author of Sisterwives
Northern Ireland, 1972. On the Crumlin Road, Belfast, the violent sectarian Troubles have forced Tom Martin to take drastic measures to protect his family. Across the divide William McManus pursues his own particular bloody code, murdering for a cause. Yet both men have underestimated the power of love and an individuals belief in right and wrong, a belief that will shake the lives of both families with a greater impact than any bomb blast. This is a compelling, challenging story of conflict between and within families driven by religion, belief, loyalty and love. In a world deeply riven by division, a world of murders, bomb blasts and assassinations, how can any individual transcend the seemingly inevitable violence of their very existence?
When and where do you prefer to write?
I enjoy writing in the early morning – sometimes getting up as early as 5.30 am and write until lunchtime which may be around 1.00 pm or later. When at home, I like to write sitting at my desk, looking at a book shelf filled with books I have read. I find it inspirational that other authors are in some way with me.
Do you have a certain ritual?
Yes. I like to think a lot before I write. I don’t necessarily think about the characters or plot of the book I am writing but like to think about life in general. What did I learn about the people I met the day before? How am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? I love life and also love to reflect upon it. If I don’t do that, it feels as if I am letting life pass me by – as if I am asleep.
In writing Eden Burning I also had the ritual of walking in the mountains in Mallorca before beginning to write. I would look at the plants and trees and feel as if they were my guides to what I would write that day. They kept reminding me that life was constantly changing. My characters had to change to each day. They had to live and die with every sentence I fed them.
Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
I like the fact that you ask about drink or food that keeps you company. That is an interesting question because writing demands a solitary way of being comfortable with yourself in silence. Of course there is great inspiration in the people you meet each day. However, I take company in drinking sparkling water when I write. I love the bubbles in it and I must have ice in it as well.
When I go to America or to friends who have those fridges where you can snuggle your glass for cold water and then for ice which spills on the floor – that fridge would be a great companion for me. It would be almost a silent Butler watching me write and serving my every need.
What is your favourite book?
It keeps changing – depending upon what is triggered in my thoughts and memories. At the moment it would be Ernest Hemingway – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. I love his passion and total commitment to honesty, clarity and courage of expression in all his writing. He is consistent in his life with what he writes.
Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I think I will always write in the genre of psychological thriller because Eden Burning is about that as is The Secret Wound and The Painter. I returned to Northern Ireland for a wedding last week and saw so much coverage of “The Game of Thrones”. It was filmed in Portstewart and Islandmagee where I stayed. This is going to sound really strange – but I have never watched a single episode of “The Game of Thrones” – yet something of its mythic imagery in the advertising of its characters fascinated me. At the wedding I’m sure that most of the Princesses I saw there were basing themselves on images I have seen from “The Game of Thrones”. Maybe in my new writing my characters will become more mythic and symbolic. I will still be playing with their minds and throwing real life challenges at them to overcome.
Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
From a psychological point – yes. I am currently doing research for my fourth novel which I am tentatively calling “Friends”. I am thinking of having certain characters not all based on the Enneagram which is interesting in triggering certain thoughts for characters eg The Perfectionist,
the Helper/Giver but I want to include The Coward, The Narcissist and see how they interact with one another when given life challenges.
I do think of real life people when I begin to create my characters – like “Who is the biggest cowards I have ever met?” I think about what makes me think that they are cowards – what do they say and do and then what drives their behaviour in terms of their personalities, experiences and genetic makeup? However, I would never write a character into a novel who is a real person I know or who I have met. I don’t think that is ethical. I am comfortable with being influenced by them to create my characters but these created characters are real in themselves. They are not copies of another human being. I think that is too easy for a writer to do.
Mind you many successful authors have done that. I think the friends and enemies of D H Lawrence dreaded finding themselves in his novels.
Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes and I have a frighteningly large number of coloured Sharpies as I like to draw and create colours around key themes.
Which genre do you not like at all?
I think any genre which from my perspective is boring with shallow characters and no big picture life context influencing the plot.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I would like to co-write a film script rather than a novel. I think for a novel the author has to give birth to it in a certain way. After that it would be super fun to co-write a script.
I am thinking of the “Friends” TV series which is influencing my fourth novel – although it is very different. In my novel my “Friends” are not friends at all but they still stay together and what I will create for them as life challenges will change them. So once that concept is turned into a novel and published – then I would love to co-write the script for film.
If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I have travelled a lot with my leadership work – to more than 40 countries of the world. This year I went not to work but on holiday to Canada – Banff and Jasper. I loved it – the big mountains, bears, elk, bubbling rivers and emerald lakes. I would love to visit again and hike through the mountains but I would avoid Vancouver with 2,000 homeless on the streets of downtown – it was such a contrast to the natural beauty and wildlife outside it.
Thank you, Deirdre Quiery and Love Book Group Tours.
About the author
Belfast born Deirdre Quiery is based in Mallorca where she runs Seven Rocks Consulting. Not just a writer, Deirdre has not only painted with Argentinian artist Carlos Gonzalez in Palma and Natalia Spitale in Soller, she is also a winner of the Alexander Imich Prize in the US for writing about exceptional human experiences, and the Birmingham Trophy Prize in the UK. The Painter is her third novel for Urbane following the Irish thriller Eden Burning and murder mystery The Secret Wound.
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