Dreams Which Come True
Recently I saw a link in Facebook to a picture of a shooting star, which said, ‘When you wish upon a star, chances are it’s a million light years away and as dead as your dreams.’
Okay, wishing on a star is superstitious nonsense and the pic was posted as a joke, but it’s a great mistake ever to think your dreams are dead. My dreams come true, over and over again, and so can yours if you hold on to them and trust.
Last year, for instance, two of my dreams came true. As a young teenager I read Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, set mostly in Petra, ‘A Rose Red City half as old as time.’ Petra was carved out of the reddish coloured rock in the north of present day Jordan, by a crowd of robbers who used it to waylay travellers and rob them – a bit like our modern tax collecting governments. My husband Raymond knew that I really wanted to see it for myself, so on our holiday in Israel he arranged for us to cross over into Jordan for one night and travel up to see Petra. And it was wonderful. Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend the ride by horse and carriage down into the city – talk about being jolted! Half the time I thought I was about to be flung out of the carriage! Better than walking, I suppose.
And on the same holiday I got to travel up Mount Carmel in a cable car. I’ve wanted to go in a cable car for ages, too, particularly since seeing the James Bond film where he dodges in and out of the car high above the mountains, dealing with Jaws. Not that I did that, or wanted to, but it was great to actually be going up the mountain.
But four years ago, an even more important dream of mine came true. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember – poems were a later development. When I was at baby school, I used to get a lot of praise from my teacher for the stories I wrote. I loved writing these, and I loved the praise – that’s human nature, I suppose! I read a lot, and naturally wanted to write the sort of stories I read. My mother and my older sisters had a great influence on me in this. They read the books first, I followed in their footsteps. It was wonderful to grow up in a house where everybody read a lot, and it seemed natural to do the same. My father sang to me, and sparked off a poetical response, my mother recited poetry to me, which I suppose did even more to make me a poet. My older sister took me to the library as soon as I was old enough to join. I am grateful to them all.
I had had short stories published – over seventy by now. And that was great, especially as several of them have won prizes or been short listed in major competitions. My story Primroses, for instance, won the Cuirt Award in 2005. But my ambition has always been to have a novel out there, and after quite a few rejections, I’d begun to think I’d never reach my goal. It was when I was contacted by Night Publishing, a small new publishing company, that things started to happen for me. Bruce Esler, who had read my book Belfast Girls on http://www.Authonomy.com – the Harper Collins site – and admired it, wanted to see the manuscript and so I sent it along and Tim Roux, his partner, agreed that it was something Night Publishing should take. Needless to say, I was over the moon!
Belfast Girls is the story of three girls growing up in the new, emerging Belfast, after the ceasefires, and of their lives and loves. It is also the story of the men who matter to them. It is a thriller, a romance, a comedy – like most people’s lives. But it has, I hope, a lot more depth than that suggests. The three girls come from different religious backgrounds, and, starting off as childhood friends, they manage to hold on to that friendship. There’s kidnapping, drugs, high fashion, prison, the spiritual awakening of one of the girls – glitter and danger side-by-side. This is a book that both men and women can enjoy and that they will feel holds something for them. Growing up, as I did, during the troubles, I was very aware that all over the world there was a very simplistic view of what was happening in Northern Ireland, i.e. people seemed to believe that all Catholics thought one thing, and all Protestants thought something else, and that all Catholics hated all Protestants and vice versa. I knew that wasn’t true. It was so much more complex than that. Many on both sides of the divide were horrified at what was happening and only wanted peace and reconciliation. I wanted to write something to show, without lecturing, that a lot of ordinary people in Northern Ireland had no problem with each other – it was just a small percentage who were fighting; and another relatively small percentage who supported them. By the time the book was finished, the troubles were over, so I rewrote it to reflect the same thing in the current climate. Of course, like any writer, I also just wanted to write a book, whatever it was about. I had various characters in mind from the start, and I wanted to develop their lives.
Belfast Girls, to my joy, reached #1 on Women’s Literary Fiction on Amazon UK and stayed there for most of a year. Meanwhile, it climbed until it was in the overall top fifty, and selling thousands. It was hard to believe, but it was a real dream come true, undoubtedly. Since then, I’ve changed publishers and published six novels, as well as a YA adventure book and two collections of short stories, and have more in the pipeline. I think I can consider myself an established writer by now.
I’ve been invited to read at numerous literary events and festivals, and recently was asked to write a scenario for a Murder Mystery event, which I greatly enjoyed doing. I’m riding high – but I had to hold on to my dream for many years before it at last came true!
You can buy my books through Amazon. Here are some of the links:
Belfast Girls http://amzn.to/1Vlt9PT
Danger, Danger http://amzn.to/1WsROEI
Angel in Flight http://amzn.to/1h2gunC
Angel in Belfast http://amzn.to/1VltjXx
Seanachie 1 http://amzn.to/1WsRRR0
Seanachie 2 http://amzn.to/1VltpP6
Lady Molly http://amzn.to/1Vltr9A
Hel’s Heroes http://amzn.to/1jpBW7C
Thanks for inviting me to write for you, Catherine!