Thursday, 6 March 2014

Featured Author: Paula Martin

It’s a pleasure to welcome again to the Reading and Writing blog British author Paula Martin, whose novels I thoroughly enjoy for their modern romance, characterisation and authentic settings. Her new novel, Irish Inheritance, is now released and Paula kindly agreed to share some of the inspiration behind this story.

It’s lovely to host you again, Paula. First a little about the novel.

Irish Inheritance

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!

Connemara
 
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.
 
You can connect with Paula on her Website, Blog and Amazon Author Page

 

30 comments:

thewritingdeputy said...

It's funny what can kindle the fire of a story. It sounds interesting.

Ana Morgan said...

I agree! The templates for stories are all around us--especially with the ability to know what happens all over the world. The trick--and what Paula is so good at--is taking a news story and from it, crafting a compelling romance.

Paula Martin said...

You're right, Joel - and it's impossible to define just what lights the spark in one's mind.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Ana! As soon as I read the article, I knew there was a story somewhere waiting to be written!

Suzie Tullett said...

What a fantastic source of inspiration, Paula. Very romantic x

Paula Martin said...

Suzie, it demanded a story - I just changed the names and location!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for your lovely comments about Paula's post, Suzie, Ana and writing deputy. Much appreciated

Have to agree with Ana about the way in which Paula can weave a great story from such items!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What an amazing story. No wonder you were so inspired. The Irish Inheritance is going to be a fantastic read.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Paula, I remember reading this article, or a related one, well done you for using it to such good effect. Good luck with the book. Anne Stenhouse

Gwen Kirkwood said...

The story sounds intriguing and I think I shall have to read it to find out what happens. I love the photograph.

Jennifer Wilck said...

Love the inspiration for your story, Paula!

Paula Martin said...

Many thanks, Rosemary. It's lovely to be a guest on your blog again :-)

Paula Martin said...

Anne, you may have read the part about the Paris apartment on my own blog some time ago, as I was so intrigued by the story. Thanks for your good wishes!

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Gwen. The photo is one I took on my first visit to Ireland. Is it any wonder I fell in love with Ireland? It was taken near Clifden in County Galway, and is where I like to imagine the house in the story.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Jen :-)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for your lovely comments, Sarah, Anne, Gwen and Jennifer!

You're very welcome, Paula!

Rena George said...

Wonderful insight into the beginnings of a novel, Paula. Thank you. Rx

jrlindermuth said...

It's always interesting to see what inspired a story. Switching the location to Ireland was a good idea, too, since you already had the background to bring it alive. Good read, Paula.

Paula Martin said...

Glad you enjoyed reading about the genesis of the story, Rena.

Paula Martin said...

John, must admit I loved setting the novel in Ireland, so much so that I'm now writing a spin-off story, also set in Ireland :-)

Debra St. John said...

Hi Paula,

I just love the premise of this story. Way back in high school I wrote a 'book' about a couple needing to get married because of a stipulation in their parents' wills. One of these days I might drag that story out and see if I can do something with it.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Debra. Wills can lead to all kind of interesting scenarios, can't they? Hope you can update and develop your story.

Miriam Newman said...

I'm so glad you came back to writing. It's our gain! And this sounds like a good premise for a totally enjoyable book. Best of luck with it.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for visiting to support Paula, Rena, Debra, Miriam and John!

Paula Martin said...

Many thanks, Miriam!

Margaret Mayo said...

What an inspiring story. I've already downloaded your book and look forward to reading it.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks so much, Margaret - hope you will enjoy it :-)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Great post. Thank you, Rosemary and Paula.

Paula Martin said...

Many thanks, Suzanne :-)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for visiting, Margaret and Suzanne!

Thanks again for being my guest, Paula.