Author Jane Buckley on writing her series Stones Corner, and how reader reviews offer a life-line
by Jane Buckley
Growing up during The Troubles
When I think back to growing up during The Troubles, it all seems a bit surreal. As a young girl, I never paid much attention to the soldiers, the barricades, the bomb scares, the news, homes raided, or even being stopped and searched by the British Army as you entered Derry’s city centre. It was life as we knew it.
As I grew older and became more aware of what was going on in Northern Ireland, people from elsewhere would ask me what it was all about. Most didn’t know or understand. And even if it was happening close to home, some simply weren’t interested unless it affected them personally.
At that time, I thought I had a fair idea about the conflict. But when I began researching my first novel I recognised I knew very little.
My desire to learn and understand evolved into helping others experience everyday life in the ’70s by writing about it. I believed that composing a series of fictional thrillers, topped and tailed around actual events, would entice readers, would help them realise what happened—and why—during the thirty years of The Troubles.
It was fascinating to read about those dark years; I found it powerful and wanted to share this with the world, lest we forget.
Beginning to write
I began in early January 2017. I can still hear my husband sniggering and his skeptical look when I told him I was going to write a book. Little did I know then that one book would turn into two, three, and finally four: Turmoil, Darkness, Light (Spring 2022) and Hope (Winter 2022).
They say you should write about what you know, and Caitlin, one of the main characters in Turmoil and Darkness has a little bit of me in her—enough for me to step into her shoes and remember people I knew growing up and experiences from earlier days.
During lockdown the whole project resurrected. Like some, for the first time in our lives, we had the time to complete all those annoying DIY jobs that needed doing for years, draw, paint and be creative in so many new ways—all those things we’d dreamed of doing for so long but never got the chance.
I did all the DIY jobs I could; I tried painting (failed), drawing (failed miserably), even knitting (worse!). So instead I finished Turmoil in the first lockdown, and I spent the second completing Darkness. Researching and writing Darkness kept me sane and gave me structure to my day. I finally published Turmoil in March 2021 and Darkness in September 2021.
Light is a work in progress. One of the most challenging tasks in writing is promoting your books. Competition is vast. You have to think out of the box about how you can make your book stand out.
The highlights and best moments in my writing journey to date have been the reviews.
Genuine readers (I honestly haven’t paid them!) took a leap of faith, bought my book and left reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.
Reviews are the lifeline to any author’s success, and I have been overwhelmed by the response. Turmoil and Darkness are hard-hitting novels and not an easy read—which is why the positive response is so encouraging.
Reviews make it happen, so a big thank you to everyone who has bought my work and, importantly, taken the time to leave a review. And so back to Stones Corner Light—only forty or so chapters to go!
You can find out more about Jane Buckley and her books by visiting her website.