I published my novel independently, and that can sometimes deter a mainstream media organization from publicly acknowledging the existence of a book. But not the Calgary Herald, thank goodness. Nor has it been a deterrent for CBC Radio in Alberta. Today was a good day for letting readers and listeners know about The Love of One’s Country.
Catherine Ford wrote in the Herald this morning that I must have been frustrated when I found it difficult to write the story of my own family after telling the stories of hundreds of other families in feature obituaries for the Herald during the 1990s.
Catherine is absolutely right. I had no letters, diaries or other documents to guide my storytelling in this project, aside from transcriptions of poems composed in Gaelic by my grandmother’s great-grandmother, a survivor of the devastating Irish potato famines of the 1840s. Her poems gave me a sense of the things my ancestor cared about, particularly her desire for Ireland to separate from the United Kingdom. But they told me nothing about the woman herself. That I had to make up.
On the radio, meanwhile, Daybreak Alberta host Russell Bowers gave me a generous amount of time – close to 15 minutes – to tell the listeners how I dealt with the challenge of writing about life in rural, famine-stricken Ireland a century before I was born. I also talked to Russell about the challenge of telling readers what it was like to travel across the ocean in a ship never meant for the transportation of human cargo. This is a journey, of course, that I never took myself.
Catherine’s article and Russell’s radio interview have been important in getting the word out about The Love Of One’s Country. So, too, have the reviews appearing in blogs and newsletters, and on the Barnes & Noble website. No writer is ever content to write just for the closet. We all want our work to be read.