Monday, 30 April 2018

MAY MADNESS



      Cold, wind-blown, makeup-free, and a ten minute drive from the heart of Dublin city centre!

WHEN I tell people that I live in Dublin, just a ten minute drive, or train journey, from the heart of the city centre, I get mixed reactions.

'Dublin is fine during the week,' they say, 'but it's nice to get away from all that noise and congestion.'


This is usually from people who spend two hours commuting to work. And I know that sounds smug. It's my attempt to fight condescension with passive-aggression.


For a start, Dublin is actually very small. The city centre, that is. You can walk around it in a day. And I often did. You try be the mother of a daughter with staggeringly narrow feet, and see how easy it is to get shoes. When she was little, I could give you the inside track on every shoe shop, within a five mile radius of O'Connell Street.


Secondly, I live right on the coast. In five minutes, I can be down at the beach, getting my salon blow-dry, extra blow-dried. Or, I can be striding along the nature reserve, where height allows for staggering views of the coastline all the way out to Bray Head, in County Wicklow. 


That said, the East coast wasn't the place to be during this Spring. None of us will forget The Beast from the East and Storm Emma, in a hurry. In our house, the pipes froze. We had no hot water. Or any water upstairs, for that matter. The snow meant we couldn't get a plumber. Try to imagine three women in the one house who couldn't wash their hair. It wasn't pretty.


But when our coast is not being battered by arctic winds and freezing temperatures, I walk that nature reserve. It's me and the dogs. Not my dogs, you understand. Other people's dogs. I live in a village where they almost outnumber people.

Which is fine, once you manage to avoid tripping over their leads, stepping in their poo (not everyone pooper-scoops, folks!!) or being jumped on by something roughly the same size as a small horse.


They're not the only animals on the reserve. But being on the coast, it's mainly sea birds and um, coastal-loving trees and plants. I never claimed to be an expert. Unlike a friend of mine. I love walking with her. She brings her dog (a gentle, slightly nervous chap, of whom I'm genuinely fond) and her knowledge.

She grew up in the real countryside and knows all about species of heron and storks, and the Latin names for wild flowers. It's impressive.


Dogs and birds aside, the natural world has decided in recent years, that our little village is The Place To Be. In particular, our garden. 


As somebody who doesn't actually keep pets (for lots of practical reasons) I can understand why, in the past, squirrels and hedgehogs felt free to roam our little patch of suburban green, happy in the knowledge that they'd be left alone. 


Then the fox arrived. I notice him for the first time when our garden is under inches of snow. H
e's quite a respectable-looking chap: shiny of coat and plump of belly. Which makes me think that somebody (or quite a few somebodies) is feeding him.

It certainly isn't me. I'm distinctly uncomfortable with a wild animal sniffing around the patio door, or settling down in the middle of the flower beds for a good scratch and an afternoon snooze. 


But a few short weeks ago, we discover that our fox is actually a vixen. And overnight, she has given birth to six cubs. The whole family are living under our garden shed.
At first, we wait, enthralled, as the proud parents (it's not an immaculate conception) play with their tiny offspring, just yards away from our kitchen door. Dinner time resembles Wildlife on One, and The Husband starts to sound like David Attenborough.

But as the cubs grow, I see a dystopian future. I might leave the kitchen door open for air, and suddenly find myself over-run by wild animals. The cubs will grow up and return en-masse to breed next summer under our shed. Soon, there will be a community of foxes living in our garden.

I phone the council. "Ah we don't deal with foxes, love. Not in people's gardens. Try the DSPCA."*

I phone the DSPCA. There is a stunned silence as I explain the problem. "We protect animals. We don't kill them," says the woman. I tell her I don't want them killed. I just wondered if they could take them away. Maybe release them in the countryside. Y'know, where they're actually supposed to live.

"No, I'm afraid we don't do that. You could wait until the cubs are reared, and they all move on. Then you could put chicken wire around your shed. Oh, and if you want to feed them, they like dog food."
I thank her and hang up.

To date, I'm still on fox watch. The weather hasn't been brilliant, so I haven't really been out in the garden, although The Husband has planted this year's tomato plants on the patio.

Summer time is different. Some years ago, my middle-class, suburban conscience, tricked the lazy side of my personality into believing that my garden should be a haven for birds and butterflies, and especially bees. Simply put: I let all the wild things grow.


So our family of foxes had better decide to move on. And leave me and my ahem, well-planted garden to its notions.

Meanwhile, I can safely report that mother and babies are thriving.


                                                                              *

*Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
#May #Wildlife #Dublin #Foxes

Dear reader,

I hope, wherever you are, you're starting to enjoy some sun. I'd love if you SHARED 
today's column using those little sharing buttons below. 

If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, just go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.
   1. NEVER MISS my fun, personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Find sample chapters/all buy links for Going Against Type @ Tirgearr Publishing

Wishing you a wonderful month.    
Hugs,
Sharon. xx

Monday, 2 April 2018

Guest Author, Jane Davis


Good morning from Dublin.

Today I'm delighted to welcome award winning author, Jane Davis, whose new novel, Smash All The Windows, will be released later this month, and is available now for pre-order.

I asked her how Smash All The Windows came about.








Author Jane Davis


Write about how Smash all the Windows came into being? It sounds so simple. 

     The novel began with outrage. I was infuriated by the press’s reaction to the outcome of the second Hillsborough inquest. Microphones were thrust at family members as they emerged from the courtroom. It was put them that, now that it was all over, they could get on with their lives. ‘What lives?’ I yelled at the television.
     For those who don’t know about Hillsborough, a crush occurred during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, killing 96 fans. A single lie was told about the cause of the disaster: In that moment, Liverpool fans became scapegoats. It would be twenty-seven years before the record was set straight. 
     Elizabeth Strout tells her writing students, ‘You can’t write fiction and be careful.’ But none of us exists in a vacuum. The pain I saw on the faces of family members as they struggled with the question was raw. And so combining two of my fears – travelling in rush hour by Tube, and escalators – I created a fictional disaster. 
     The previous year, en route to a Covent Garden book-reading, I’d suffered a fall. The escalator I normally use was out of order. Instead we were diverted to one that was much steeper, but I was totally unprepared for its speed. When I pushed my suitcase full of books in front of me, I was dragged off-balance. Fortunately, no one was directly in front. I escaped relatively unscathed. But the day could have ended very differently. 
     My disaster shared many elements with Hillsborough. Because both incidents happened before the explosion of the internet, voices weren’t heard as they would be today. Someone in management was new to the job. Things had ‘always been done that way’ (such a dangerous sentence). Facilities dated from a time when human space requirements weren’t understood. Risk assessments hadn’t considered multiple failures. It was also important to reflect the extraordinary pressure endured by the Hillsborough families by perpetuation of the lie. 
     But new difficulties surfaced – from far closer to home. In May 2017 came the London Bridge attack. This was where I’d set my novel. I witnessed the bouquets of red roses spanning the width of the bridge, the messages written on photographs of the victims, all those beautiful, devastating obituaries. But should I let this later disaster shape the story I was writing? 
     I’d already realised that if I wrote a book about blame, it would do an injustice to the many individuals who behave heroically in the most terrible circumstances. Added to which, there was one clear message in everything I read about accident investigation. Any finding that an individual is responsible is likely be biased and will fail to identify the real cause of the disaster. 
     Then in June 2017 came the Grenfell Fire, the most heart-breaking tragedy of recent years, not only because of the scale of the devastation, but because it quickly emerged that the spread of the fire could have been prevented. Inadvertently, in avoiding writing about Hillsborough, now I risked giving the impression that I was commentating on two London disasters. And, of course, having made a decision to write about un-blame rather than blame, I was seriously out of step with public opinion. 
     Fortunately my novel focuses on the disaster’s emotional fallout. My task was to capture all of the guarded memories, the hidden sorrow of a man who mourns not only the loss of a daughter but his unborn grandson, the daughter who must assume position as head of the household, the sculptor who transforms his grief into art, the sheer heroism involved in getting up day after day and going out into a world that has betrayed you.
     The beating heart of the story isn’t the disaster, but human resilience and the healing power of art.
 


   


Blurb
It has taken conviction to right the wrongs. 
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.
Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.
If only it were that simple. 

Tapping into the issues of the day, Davis delivers a highly charged work of metafiction, a compelling testament to the human condition and the healing power of art.
 
Written with immediacy, style and an overwhelming sense of empathy, Smash all the Windows will be enjoyed by readers of How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall and How to be Both by Ali Smith.

Smash all the Windows will be released on 12 April, but you can pre-order it now for the special price of 99p/99c (Price increases to £1.99 on 12 March. Price on publication will be £3.99).

The Universal Link is books2read.com/u/49P21p

From 13 February to 10 March, US readers can also enter a
Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of 100 eBooks.





About Jane Davis


Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis is the author of eight novels. 
Jane spent her twenties and the first part of her thirties chasing promotions at work, but when she achieved what she’d set out to do, she discovered that it wasn’t what she wanted after all. It was then that she turned to writing. 
Her debut, Half-truths & White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award 2008. Of her subsequent three novels, Compulsion Reads wrote, ‘Davis is a phenomenal writer, whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless’.
Her 2015 novel, An Unknown Woman, was Writing Magazine’s Self-published Book of the Year 2016 and has been shortlisted for two further awards. 

Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos.
When she isn’t writing, you may spot her disappearing up a mountain with a camera in hand. Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.


Also by the Author
Half-truths & White Lies
I Stopped Time
These Fragile Things
A Funeral for an Owl
An Unchoreographed Life
An Unknown Woman 
My Counterfeit Self

Contact

Website: https://jane-davis.co.uk
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JaneDavisAuthorPage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janedavisauthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/janeeleanordavi/boards/
Press enquiries: janerossdale@btinternet.com
High resolution photos available from https://jane-davis.co.uk/media-kit/ 


                                                                                      *


Dear reader,
Many thanks for stopping by, and please 
SHARE today's column via the sharing buttons below. 

If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, just go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.
   1. NEVER MISS my fun, personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Find sample chapters/all buy links for Going Against Type @ Tirgearr Publishing

Wishing you a wonderful month, and I'll be back in May with my personal column.  
Hugs,
Sharon. xx