I am delighted to introduce
|17th November 2014|
Hush Hush by Gabrielle Mullarkey
Widowed a year ago, thirtysomething Angela has retreated into her shell, reluctant to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. Between them, her bossy mum and her best friend gently nudge Angela back to life, persuading her to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.
Back home, Angela resolves to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and a temperamental ex-wife with Pre-Raphaelite hair. Since Angela’s never liked winging it, is a future with Conor too uncertain to contemplate?
But as she’s about to discover, her old life was far less secure than she thought. And the past won’t let go until she confronts its long-buried secret.
Gabrielle ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo.....
What makes you want to write stories?
There’s an impulse that comes from deep within, and I’ve often heard other people say the same about their own great passion, whether it’s baking, walking, gardening, raising a child … we’re engaging all the time in these fulfilling creative acts. I’ve understood that impulse a little better while studying for my MSc in creative writing for therapeutic purposes. The course showed how creative writing can release one’s inner voice, whether it’s refugees telling stories that no one has wanted to listen to before, or people who pick up a pen for the first time since leaving school and discover they can write a poem or a story!
Do you write for yourself or other people?
A bit of both. That urge to spill characters, their voices and dilemmas onto paper is partially cathartic. Equally, a story is something the teller wants to share, as opposed to confiding innermost thoughts to a journal. That means I take the reader into consideration, which in turn affects how I shape the writing. You want to be entertaining, clear, and you want the reader to turn to the next page!
Where did the idea for Hush Hush come from?
In the book, thirtysomething widow Angela meets Conor on a holiday flight from Morocco, buttonholing him about a contact lens she might have lost in his in-flight meal. It was loosely inspired by my own encounter an Irishman with a hint of russet, three years earlier. I met my swain in a crowded pub in Co Kildare one hot August night when he approached me with the classic line, ‘is this your jumper? I found it on the seat next to me.’ Twenty-two years later, ‘our song’ isn’t People Will Say We’re In Love or Because You’re Mine. It’s the Sultan of Pings FC classic, Where’s Me Jumper? He also went about for a decade harbouring the misconception that I’d deliberately chucked my jumper onto an adjoining seat, a variation on the coyly dropped hanky. Which got me wondering – how much do we know about each other, and how readily do we find evidence to endorse our own preconceptions and first impressions?
According to John Lennon, life happens when you’re busy making other plans – or in Angela’s case, when you’re deciding not to make too many at all. But who knows what impact a forgotten jumper or missing contact lens can have on someone’s destiny?
What was the most difficult aspect of writing the story? How did you overcome it?
I underestimated the cathartic elements of the story, which became more obvious as I was writing it. My own background, growing up in suburban Kent in an Irish family, seeped unwittingly into my writing, if only through comedic asides – such as the time I printed hundreds of clock cards upside down in a factory job I did after my A-levels! I realised I was using humour to deal with memories that were actually quite raw, but that was no bad thing – it allowed me to distance myself from painful episodes, while also ensuring I wrote for the reader. On a practical note, I was living beside noisy neighbours as I drafted the book, and evolved a routine where I had to make the most of hours they were out. It was beyond frustrating at the time, but probably helped me just get on with it!
Do you write the type of books you like to read and which authors influence you?
I think I have to write the sort of book I’d read myself or I’d quickly get bored and risk my voice coming across as inauthentic. I devour a couple of novels a week, time permitting, and my tastes are quite catholic, although as soon as I discover someone who makes me think, ‘wow!’, I try to read everything in their canon. At the moment, I’m very taken with Laurie Graham for her characters’ dry prose, F G Cottam’s supernatural mysteries – which treat the reader as an intelligent, deductive being – and Douglas Kennedy for his evocative dialogue. This week, I’ve read Joseph O’Connor’s Ghost Light, in which an ageing Irish actress looks back on her love affair with the playwright Synge. The language is wonderful, almost Joycean.
My second novel, A Tale of Two Sisters, is due out in spring, and recounts the fallout from an ongoing feud between two siblings with nothing in common – except an overlapping taste in men! I’ve also nearly finished a novel about a man whose life is thrown into turmoil when he finds a letter that his birth mother wrote to his adoptive mother years earlier, telling the story of why she ‘abandoned’ him. I love inhabiting different characters – and I hope that love comes across in my writing!
Praise for Hush Hush:
"A gentle, funny romance." Sarah Caden, Sunday Independent
"A witty and irreverent insight into the nitty gritty of life." Helen Murray, The Irish News
Praise for Gabrielle Mullarkey:
"Readers love Gabrielle’s fiction for its range – whether atmospheric mood pieces or contemporary slices of life, all revolve around imaginatively twisty plots packed with sassy dialogue, characters you feel you know and ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ moments." best
Gabrielle - thank you so much for spending time with us . It's been a pleasure to host this interview. Jaffa and I wish you much success with Hush, Hush and look forward to seeing what you do next.
My thoughts about Hush Hush
There is much to enjoy in this gentle, romantic story, which looks at the unpredictability of love and life, and focuses on the overshadowing effect of long buried secrets.
Told with wit and humour and fine attention to detail, Hush, Hush, takes a very ordinary character and imbues in Angela all those characteristics we find in ourselves. Recently widowed, and long out of, both the dating game, and the adult job market, Angela is reluctant to open up her life to the scrutiny of others but bossed around by her mother and her best friend, Angela is encouraged to take charge of her life again. However, from the offset this is not going to be easy, as Angela has lots of obstacles to overcome and panic is never far from the surface. Over the space of the novel, I enjoyed getting to know Angela, sometimes she irritated me, but overall, I wished her well.
I read the story over the space of a couple of afternoons. It’s a light read, easy to pick up and put down and filled with nice observations about life in general. I enjoyed it.
My thanks to Ian Skillicorn at Corazon Books for my e-copy of this book.