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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Catherine M Byrne writer blog: My Novels

Why I wrote my first book, Follow the Dove.

It took me a long time to write Follow the Dove, as I started when I was working from nine till five and also had three children to care for.  I was really interested in crime, but I was pushed by my fellow members of the Talking Volumes Writer's Circle to write something about the island of my birth, Stroma, now deserted.   I couldn’t write a factual book because that has already been done.  Since it’s a very small island and I couldn’t risk offending anyone, I didn’t want to write about Stroma by name, so I decided on fictional island, with fictional people.  I tried to use surnames that were never common on Stroma.  I toyed with all sorts of ideas for a long time.  An island lends itself to a family saga.  But they say you should write the kind of thing you read.  I don’t read family sagas.  I read murder mysteries.

While desperately looking for an idea for this story, a woman from Canada, Isabella Moorland, got in touch with me through a local forum. She was doing her genealogy and couldn’t find a death certificate for her grandfather, a Stroma man.  And, although I tried to help, we were never able to discover the whereabouts of her grandfather’s grave.  
But she told me what she knew. Her grandfather married a girl from Orkney, and had four of a family.  The eldest son joined the navy.  The youngest was lost at sea.  And with her two daughters, his wife packed up and went to Canada to join her parents, and it appeared, she did this without her man.  
I got to thinking, what could have happened to Isabella's grandfather?  Suddenly, I had my characters.  I started to write.  And as I wrote, the characters became real. This is not a murder mystery, but it is nonetheless a mystery. The story is mainly about Isa and Davie.  I’ve given Isa a job with the Floating shops of Orkney, and I’ve made Davie, a whisky runner.   
And as the characters revealed their story to me, all I had to do, was write it.  I hope you enjoy.

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