Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, please welcome the March author of the month, Suzanne Kelly.
What drew you to writing?
Wonderful teachers in high school and college. When I was 17 a teacher told me to read The Dubliners, the collection of short stories by James Joyce, because of my interest in my Irish heritage. I read them all in one sitting, looked up, and read them again. I realized I knew these Irish people so beautifully, tragically, lyrically rendered by Joyce, and knew someday I wanted to write about my Irish roots. I majored in English and went to grad school and had the good fortune and luxury of having professors who were encouraging and directed my study, particularly in Victorian poetry and fiction and in W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens.
What authors have influenced you? Much later in life when I read Alice McDermott’s work, particularly, Charming Billy, I felt again that shock of recognition about the Irish in American which renewed my desire to write about these people I come from, the Irish and the Irish Americans. I began to write short stories published separately and realized I wanted to follow one character, nine-year old Lucy Fahey, who was coming of age during John F. Kennedy’s race in 1960 in a novel length work, Stolen Child. The title and epigraph are from the Yeats poem.
Can you describe your writing process? To listen very carefully to what the characters have to say and let them lead. I don’t feel that I create the characters as much as remember them and turn them loose on the page. Lucy’s ever-feuding Immigrant great uncle, Red Quinn and her paternal grandmother, Maeve Fahey, have plenty to teach Lucy about what it is to be Irish, although they never agree, especially about Kennedy. One kind reviewer has said: “This novel captures the intricacies and confusion of religion, politics and family conflict all through the eyes and logic of a child. Sweet, struggling Lucy is right up there with Scout on my list of favorite child narrators.” (Thanks again, Katrina Kittle!)
Girl on the cover of the book as fate would have it is actually from my Grandmother’s county in Ireland.
Just for fun:
1. Books read more than once: I read The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim nearly ever winter.
2. Favorite comfort: Sitting with my dog, Murphy, on my feet while my husband, Dave, and I read or watch tv.
Kelly’s book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and free shipping from publisher, Bottom Dog Press, link below.