Anyone who has followed the blog for a few years will know that I am a huge fan of Irish Fiction having been introduced to authors such as Maeve Binchy when I was younger by my mum and granny. I also love discovering new authors to follow so to be introduced to a new Irish author such as Kate McQuaile, whose debut novel What She Never Told Me is published today, is a win win for me ;)
Kate McQuaile is a graduate of the Faber novel-writing course. She lives in London and works as a journalist, but is originally from Drogheda in Ireland. Follow Kate on Twitter
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel What She Never Told Me?
It’s the story of a woman trying to make sense of her life and her memories after her marriage collapses and her mother dies. Her discovery of an old letter among her mother’s papers and her need to make contact with the father she has never known send her on a journey that makes her question everything she thought was real and true.
Where did the inspiration come from to write this story about a woman wanting to finally discover the truth about her heritage from her dying mother?
It came from a couple of different things — a childhood memory and the idea that even the most ordinary families have secrets.
If you had to describe What She Never Told Me in one sentence, what would it be?
I would say that it’s about loss, acceptance and forgiveness.
What can we expect from you next?
I’m writing the second book at the moment and hoping to finish it in the next couple of months. My working title is Without a Word. Again, it has an Irish setting but it’s more crimey than What She Never Told Me.
Do you think your experience as a journalist helped with the writing/editing process?
Yes, in that I learned how to write clean copy and to avoid padding. Also, I suppose, I learned how to listen. But I’ve found it difficult to switch between work mode and fiction mode. As soon as I start using a laptop, I think I’m in work mode, so the solution has been to write as much as possible in longhand. I wrote a lot of What She Never Told Me in longhand on the Tube going to and from work.
What essentials do you need to have nearby when sitting down to write?
If I’m on the tube, all I need is a seat in the corner and a pen and notebook. If I’m at home, I like to have lots of tea and 90% dark chocolate.
Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal?
Shoes! I love shoes. I’m embarrassed to say that I have shoes I’ve never worn.
Finally have you anything exciting planned to celebrate publication day?
Dinner at my favourite restaurant. I’m planning a party, but that will happen later. I’m not very good at planning.
I had hoped to have finished reading What She Never Told Me to review alongside this spotlight feature but sadly illness last month has seriously put my reading and reviewing schedule behind. so the review will follow as soon as I can get to it.
I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?
Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise's last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.
Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter's fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she's been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.