The Years That Followed launch: Northern Ireland
One of the exhilarating things about launching a new book is the experience of visiting Ireland’s libraries and bookshops and meeting readers.
Librarians in this country – North and South – are among the unsung heroes of today. Libraries are so much more than silent spaces and shelves full of books – although they can be both of these things, too, if we need them to be.
Libraries act as social hubs, places for readers to meet each other casually, or as part of the Book Club revolution. They are also centres of citizens’ information and assistance – not to mention somewhere to go for enthusiastic reading recommendations, author visits, writing workshops and mentoring.
The Years That Followed has had an energetic trajectory this month – starting off in Doolin, at the Writers’ Weekend there, passing through Dubray Bookshop in Dublin, and heading rapidly North to Carrickfergus, Ballyclare and Belfast, Co. Antrim.
It’s been a terrific few weeks. I feel a mixture of sadness that all these events are now over, and a sprinkling of relief that I can now return to my desk to assuage the guilt that all writers feels when they are away from their ‘real work’ – i.e. writing – for too long.
I love meeting readers. I am constantly surprised by the keen interest that readers take in the writing process. I’ve had the pleasure at Carrickfergus Library of discussing mythology, the process of constructing a novel, and delving into the social issues that I deal with in The Things We Know Now and in The Years That Followed. Cyber-bullying, in particular, emerged as a theme of particular concern to the group and their observations were acute and thoughtful ones.
In Ballyclare Library, two book groups came together and we discussed one of my previous novels – Missing Julia, which everyone had already read. Our discussion was a lively and engaging one – ranging from issues of ethics to the creation of suspense to how fiction can help us process the challenges of grieving.
And finally, in Belfast’s terrific independent bookshop, No Alibis, David Torrens hosted a lovely evening for his customers – and for me! The audience was attentive and curious and once again, it was great to see the enthusiasm of readers thoroughly engaged in the individual and collective pursuit of finding and reading good books.
Thanks to all concerned.
To round off a great week, I had the joy of seeing the Glens of Antrim at their very best – Cushendall was dressed in its Sunday clothes: it was bright and blue and light-filled as it celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.
The ‘room of my own’ feels very quiet this week, I have to confess…..it’s taking me quite a while to get back into the swing of the solitary writing life.