I asked Clare to tell us a bit about how she researches her stories. And one of her recommendations is to visit Ireland. If you haven't done so, I highly recommend it. (Just think of the tax write-off.)
Thanks for joining us, Clare! And now I'll turn the blog over to you for some words of wisdom:
Thank you for having me on your blog today. I have been thinking about how I research my stories. I would have to say it’s a dynamic process. Researching Ireland is always a joy. Invisible threads pull me back each year to the shores and hills I’ve loved since a child. My muse thrives in the weather, dances to the music of the sea caressing the cliffs and breathes deep into her soul the fragrant air settling over a field of stone and whitethorn.
When I started writing fiction four years ago this fall, all the Irishness in me once again surfaced. I had recently been back to Éire and as I traveled I made copious notes for story ideas. If you get off the tourist track, it won’t be long before someone will tell a tale, sing a song, raise a pint in celebration of a victory or to salve a defeat. The Irish love to talk. I love to listen. Story telling is a national pastime…right up there with Gaelic Football and Hurling. History, both recent and ancient, is a nebulous thing mixed with lore and a touch of blarney.
Years ago someone asked me “Why Ireland?” My answer… “Why anywhere?” Apart from the obvious, the physical beauty, the friendly people, the magical charm, there is a gravitational pull. The land of Yeats, Joyce, and Sheridan tugs on every cell of my body until I once again return to that greener shore.
My writing has been described by more than one reader as “lyrical.” I have to believe some of that tendency is in my mitochondria, passed down from generations of Celtic folk. But, I also have a vast curiosity about how environment shapes us.
I cannot walk past the General Post Office in Dublin without visualizing the struggle for Irish Independence…and a story will start to gel in my consciousness. When I stand on the shore or swim in the sea, I literally hear the music of harps, fiddles and pipes in my head. I’m “Off with the fairies.” This is a very Irish phrase that gently depicts a condition lacking reason or sanity. It rather sweetly illustrates a state of blissful confusion. My friends and family will attest to the fact that I can get lost in my own neighborhood. I know it is because those “fairies” called me off to places in my heart.
I’m not at all sure this qualifies as research. Yes, I do actually read, study articles on the internet, talk to experts. In the Fad Trilogy the Irish characters are native Irish speakers. I have an Irish language expert who helps me not sound like an illiterate when I use an Gaeilge in my books. I have a great little book called Slanguage by Bernard Share to help wade though the street slang of Dublin. The film “The Commitments” is fabulous for getting a feel for modern urban Irishness. I am a voracious reader. Frank Delaney, Maeve Binchy, The Táin translated from the Irish by Ciaran Carson and the Princes of Ireland series by Rutherford sit on my bookshelves beside the poetry of W.B. Yeats.
But, if you are going to write about Ireland, there is no research better than being there. You will feel the stories soaking into your skin, your hair, your lungs as gently as the rain that falls on a soft Connemara morning. Be mindful to keep your voice silent, ears tuned, to quiet your heart and wait. It will come…that’s Ireland.
Thank you for this opportunity. I hope you will stop by my website www.clareaustin.com and take a look at my other books, Angel’s Share and Hot Flash, both due to release early in 2010. If you wish to contact me personally, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy…I love to be chat with people about writing, books and Ireland.
And here's Clare's most recent release:
Flannery Sloane is a free spirited bohemian with a soul blessed by Irish musical tradition. She doesn’t give a care for where she’s going or how she’ll get there. Joy and passion are her only map. And, though she’s not interested in falling in love, she wouldn’t mind a little fun with a fine looking man. Hunter Kincade looks like he could fill that bill and have a bit of change left over.
Flannery never wears a watch. She’s late for everything but the downbeat of a fiddle tune. She’s happy serving pints in the pub and playing for tips and smiles. Hunter thrives on punctuality. He is in the music business with his focus on the bottom line. The pretty fiddle player with the bright green eyes would make his next production worth the price of a CD.
Their only common ground is the belief that falling in love is a danger to health and sanity.
Will it take more than Irish magic to pull a man like Hunter into the spell of a woman like Flannery? They are all wrong for each other...and they are so right.