It’s lovely to host you again, Paula. First a little about the novel.
English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered as ‘family’, they discover some surprising links to the original owners of the house.
With the help of local descendants, they unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, even though they each have personal reasons for not wanting any romantic involvement at this point in their lives.
Problems arise when a local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house. Other events pull them back to their separate lives in London and America, and friction builds between them over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?
Irish Inheritance is available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon USA, Amazon UK and Smashwords (for other e-readers, or for download to a PC)
Inspiration Behind the Story
About eighteen months ago, I found an article online about a Paris apartment that had been abandoned in 1939, when the owner fled to the south of France at the outbreak of war. She continued to pay the rent, but never returned to the apartment. When she died, in her nineties, in 2010, the executors of her will entered the apartment – and stepped back in time. The apartment, under a thick layer of dust, was exactly as it had been left seventy years earlier, with furniture dating from the late 19th century, and other personal items. The most stunning item was a portrait – and research eventually proved this to be the owner’s grandmother, a French actress. It was painted by an Italian artist in 1898, and a love note found in the apartment suggested he had been having an affair with the actress.
I saved the article because somehow I knew there was the basis of a novel here. Maybe you could call this an inspiration; I tend to think of it more as an itch at the back of my mind that won’t go away! I played around with a few ideas as I scratched that itch. An apartment in Paris was tempting, but I’d already used Paris as a location in two of my novels, so where else? The English Lake District maybe? Again, I’ve already used that location. Then the real inspiration struck. Ireland!
I’ve been to Ireland about ten times in the last 6 or 7 years, and love the country, the scenery, and the people, but I’d never set a novel there. It didn’t take me long to decide exactly where in Ireland to set the story. Connemara, in the west of County Galway, is one of my favourite areas of Ireland, combining wild mountain countryside with the inlets, bays, and islands of the Atlantic coast. So the ‘Paris apartment’ became a house near the small town of Clifden on the west coast.
The article also inspired the 19th century characters in the novel: the French actress became an English actress, and the Italian became an American artist, and I decided to mirror them in my contemporary characters, who are also an actress and an artist. Once I had my setting and characters, it was time for all the ‘what if…?’ questions that run through my mind as I work out what I think might be the basic outline of the story. I don’t do any detailed plotting, but allow my characters to become my inspiration as I start writing about them.
When I first began this story, I had no idea that a local property agent would have her own ‘agenda’ about the house, or that Jenna and Guy would travel across Ireland to meet with someone who could give them more information about their family history. Maybe that was Ireland inspiring me again, because I enjoyed taking them to visit many of the places I’ve also seen – Galway Bay, the Cliffs of Moher, the Wicklow Mountains, and of course Dublin.
I was delighted when one of my American readers, whose grandfather came from County Galway, said, “Couldn't put it down. Loved your description of the scenery and points of interest in Ireland. That's a tour I wish I could take but won't ever get to make. At least I saw it through your eyes.”
By the way, here’s the link to the article about the Paris apartment, if you want to read more details:
Thanks for that fascinating insight into your inspiration, Paula. I can’t wait to read Irish Inheritance now!
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons. She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.