‘Procrastination is a common disease but it is one that you can beat’. Michelle Nic Pháidín talks of her novel ‘An tIriseoir’ 3 May 2016 – Posted in: News

Imagination is a must, I’m sure, for any writer, and you’re certainly gifted with it, but how did you go about composing the general outline of the story?

You will often find that a story takes shape in your head before you write it. You consider the story, change it a number of times and, in a manner, distil it, until you are satisfied with the entire product.

The writing of the story is the final step in the process of creation as you have already begun and completed the journey in your mind. When characters breathe and act in a certain manner they are real and ready to be addressed in writing.

This story emanated from my career in journalism. The stories that appear are fictitious yet the inspiration for them stemmed from occasions I found myself in. Unfortunately many of these situations were deeply sad and it is with this in mind that I use fictitious situations to exemplify what may happen in true life. Sad events leave their mark and this book, to a small extent, proved a balsam on the wounds of a weary news writer.

Tell us how you went about researching the book.

I spoke to a number of experts in the field of domestic violence and mental health. In terms of creating characters, I watched and listened to people that I knew and I drew on my experience with them to create characters that would be useful in my book. I also have a lot of experience in courtrooms and this was something that I could use, to my advantage, in the book.

The criminal aspect of the story is one that I researched through a friend of mine who works in the *Daily Mail* in England and on many occasions, I rang him to ascertain certain facts that I did use in my story.

I also used the story as an engine to depict how the journalistic industry has changed profoundly over the years.

Who is your favourite character, and why?

I envisage Nóra as an old woman with a purple rinse who is the life and soul of any bingo. She is always a step ahead in the local parish when it comes to gossip and is not afraid to speak her mind.

However, despite the fact that she seems like a ‘light character’ she is the polar opposite. She is talented at reading people and understands her family perhaps better than they do themselves. She uses this knowledge sparingly and only ever uses it as a weapon when she sees a negative situation worsen.

One of the great aspects of having a character such as Nóra in a book is that you can enjoy the use of the Irish language as it should be. She speaks an Irish that is typical of the language used in Ulster and you can use many old sayings that are disappearing with time.
She epitomises the typical old woman in every regard, harbouring a great strength of character and willing to sacrifice anything for her family.

What’s the most difficult aspect of writing a book, for you?

I found that certain situations and characters may ring true to some people so I had to keep this in mind at all times as I work as a professional in a small region.
I also found it very difficult to actually sit down and write. I read books and watched criminal documentaries on TV and convinced myself that it was research and looking back on it now, it certainly wasn’t.

What would you recommend to the aspiring writer?

I would urge anyone who has a story/stories to tell to write. Procrastination is a common disease but it is one that you can beat.

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