Monday, 5 January 2015

Cathy Mansell - Across the Sea to Ireland

I'm thrilled to welcome Cathy Mansell to the blog today. It's always a pleasure to talk to this delightful lady.

I’ve not long finished reading ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’. You covered a huge amount of history in this wonderfully inspiring book. Can you tell our readers something about your research?
Although Where the Shamrocks Grow is a work of fiction, some aspects are loosely based on my mother's life, my great aunt and my experience of New York.

I love research and when I was writing Where the Shamrocks Grow it was a great excuse to go back to my roots. I walked the streets of Dublin that I remembered as a child, visited Dublin's National Library where I researched the upstairs/downstairs of the period. Scrolled down many Dublin newspapers printed in the 1920s and 30s. The history of the Irish Civil War I recalled from my school days and researched what I wasn't sure of.

American history had always fascinated me because of my great aunt who lived in the Bronx before, and during the great depression. We never met, but I tried to imagine how she might have felt when she lost her savings in the 1929 crash.

It would seem that all your books are set in Ireland. You’ve lived in England for many years. What prompted you to set your work in the land of your birth?
I've asked myself this question many times, Natalie, having lived so long in Leicester. For some reason, I've never been inspired to set one of my books here. Maybe one day. Ireland to me is inspirational, the people, the landscape, the history. Besides I was brought up there, worked and went to school there at a time when I was an impressionable young teenager. I seem to have an affinity with Ireland, Dublin in particular.  Inspiration to write comes easily when I'm there.

You haven’t always written novels. What did you do before and when and why did you change?
When my first husband died from leukemia in the 70s, I found comfort in writing short verse. I then progressed to writing articles on bereavement to give consolation to others going through the same thing. To my surprise these articles were published in National magazines. I found healing in writing so I then wrote my life story for my children. It went for a second read at Arts Council England, and I was encouraged to carry on writing.

This, in turn, gave me confidence to have a go at writing a full-length novel.  Then in 2003 when I had finished writing and editing Where the Shamrocks Grow, novelist, Jean Chapman encouraged me to join the Romantic Novelists Association's (RNA) New Writer's Scheme.  It proved to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. With support from the RNA, and other supportive groups, I am now a published author writing my fifth novel.

Can you tell us about your working day?
My working day has changed over the years. When I started writing first, I had lots of time to write. Usually from nine in the morning and on and off throughout the day, sometimes working well into the night. I thought time was my own.

But that is never the case when you have family and grandchildren. I adore spending time with them, and they are all supportive of my work. When I have time off, I find myself working later and later into the evening. I start at nine but rarely get to my writing until the afternoon.  Promotion and networking take up half of my writing time.  Most authors will identify with this, but as we want to sell books, it becomes part of the working day and night.   

Where is your favourite place to write – and why?
I am fortunate to have a fantastic working place. My husband, Dennis, calls it the crow's nest. It's a small attic room in the roof of the house that he converted some years ago. It overlooks fields and trees. I can be completely alone up here with my characters.

I love it because no one likes climbing the ladder, and it keeps the grandchildren away from my computer. I've been working up here in my special place for years now and have become quite good at climbing the ladder. Some days it is the only exercise I get. 

Do you have any favourite hobbies outside of your writing (not that writing can be called a hobby)
I used to like gardening and decorating, but that fell by the wayside. I love reading and read most genres apart from science fiction. I have a passion for good drama, live or otherwise. Can’t get enough of it.

Your most recently published book, ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’, has received excellent reviews. Is there another in the pipeline? 

Yes, I'm currently writing another romantic suspense set in Dublin and Birmingham in 6os. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my publisher, Tirgearr Publishing, will like it. It's always a bit nerve racking when you start a new book, wondering if the story will engage readers.  

Your publishers, Tirgearr Publishing, are based in Ireland. Is this a coincidence?
Yes, in a way. When the situation arose to submit work to them, I thought they might be the right publisher for me as my work was set there. As it turned out, my publisher is from California and her husband is a Cork man. I love this combination. It was a right decision.  

Cathy is an experienced writer of romantic fiction. Her early work was stories and articles published in national magazines. She organized an anthology of works funded by Arts Council England, appeared on the TV show Food Glorious Food 2012

Nowadays, Cathy writes novels set in Ireland, depicting the lifestyle and hardships of families in those days. Some of her characters become wound up in intricate criminal plots.

She lives in Leicestershire with her husband, where she writes daily in her ‘Loft Study’
Thank you so much for sharing, Cathy.

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39 comments:

  1. I loved reading this book, it has everything a good book should have. The characters come alive for me and you can really picture them in your mind. Can't wait for the next book. Loved reading the interview. Really interesting and inspiring to other budding writers who are trying to juggle their work with family life.

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  2. Thank you for this lovely comment on Where the Shamrocks Grow. Kind of you to visit and make a comment. Much appreciated.

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  3. It's a pleasure to be on your blog today Natalie. Thank you for inviting me. I'm happy to be here.
    Cathy

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  4. It's been a joy having you, Cathy. As the comment above says, you are inspirational

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  5. Lovely to see you here, Cathy, and enjoying your well-deserved success.
    Lilian Butterwick x

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    2. Thanks Lilian. Appreciate the comment.
      Cathy

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  6. Thank you for joining us, Lilian. Nice to see you here too

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    1. It's a pleasure, Natalie :)
      Lilian x

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  7. A lovely interview from an inspirational, motivated author!

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  8. Cathy is an example to us all isn't she.

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  9. What a lovely lady! Very nice interview Natalie. Its always interesting to hear about other peoples lives. Thankyou...Fx

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  10. I'm glad you were able to join us, Fx, and I agree entirely. I'm often amazed at how much people manage to cram into their lives - particularly writers!

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  11. What a lovely interview, ladies. Your warmth shines through, Cathy, and I'm not surprised your books are so well loved.

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  12. Thank you Rosemary for taking the time to comment. It's much appreciated.
    Cathy

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  13. I have really loved reading this interview with Cathy - thanks so much. I am a fellow Tirgearr writer.
    Noreen

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  14. I've really enjoyed all of Cathy's books - the characters and settings.
    Looking forward to the next one!

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  15. I haven't read them all, June, but I know I have a lot to look forward to.

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  16. I'm delighted you enjoyed the interview so much, Noreen. I think Cathy would always be easy to read, in whatever format.

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  17. Thank you Noreen, June and Anne for your lovely comments
    Cathy X

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  18. Great post, Cathy. And your books are lovely, you deserve your brilliant success.

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    1. Thank you Margaret. Good of you to make time to pop over and leave a comment. It's appreciated.

      cathy

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  19. I'm really looking forward to reading WTSG - I've enjoyed Cathy's other books immensely.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Isabella X

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  20. A lovely interview, Cathy and Natalie. I enjoy your writing, Cathy - your success is well-deserved.

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  21. Thank you for stopping by, Joan. Glad you enjoyed it

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  22. Just testing because people said they were having trouble posting

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    1. Yours has come on ok Natalie. One lady had trouble getting on yesterday and I told her to go through Google. Still don't see anything.
      I'll see what I can find out this end.

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  23. I seem to have lost my SEO, Cathy, so Google will need the full blog address - nataliekleinman.blogspot.co;uk. Working on it from my end too.

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    1. Lizzie Lamb has confirmed that she commented but it's not appeared.
      She done it last night as did the other two.
      But, don't worry about it Natalie. These strange things do happen on the internet. It was a great day on Monday.

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  24. Elaine Everest has tried as well and hers hasn't appeared either. Obviously it's something that needs sorting and I'm so sorry to disappoint you, Cathy, but yes, it was a great day on Monday. Tuesday too.

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  25. I don't know if this will help but I've been giving the address out wrongly. Feel such a fool. Please try nataliekleinman.blogspot.com/

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  26. Oh to have my own crows best to write in... only problem is, I don't like heights! Thank you for a lovely interview, Natalue and Cathy.

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  27. It's quite funny how different we all are isn't it, Wendy? My husband kitted the small bedroom out as an office for me three years ago with my desk facing the window (and the road). It also faces north-east.The room has always felt cold - even though temperature-wise it wasn't and, I don't know, unfriendly somehow. It wasn't long before I and my laptop were back at the dining room table where I feel much cosier. Hubby sits opposite me or in the lounge doing his thing. He knows I like to work in silence and he doesn't mind because it's a companionable silence. Anyone else have a favourite place?

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  28. Coming through loud and clear, Cathy. Someone is looking at the settings over the weekend so hopefully the glitches will be sorted by Monday. It's been wonderful spending this week with you though. Thank you again.

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