Herself Alone In Orange Rain by Tracey Iceton
Kaylynne Ryan is a promising art student, used to fighting for her place in a world of men, but when a forgotten friend turns up she realises there is more than her own freedom at stake.
Learning the truth about her Irish heritage, her grandfather who fought all his life for Ireland’s independence, her parents who gave their lives for the same cause, she finds herself drawn into the dangerous world of the Provisional IRA with its bombing campaigns, bloody violence, hunger strikes and patriotic sacrifice.
She didn’t look for the Troubles, but they found her nonetheless, and now, whatever the cost, she must join the cause to help rid the Six Counties of the Brits.
#GuestPost: The Power Of Story Telling
I was a writer before I knew what that was. As a child I made up stories in my head. At thirteen I wrote a ‘novel’, inspired by my favourite book, S E Hinton’s The Outsiders. Then I grew up, reality kicked me and I trained as an English teacher, settling down to teaching literature instead of writing any.
But the dream nagged me. In 2004 circumstances meant I could afford to work part-time and write properly. So that’s what I did. But that was only the start of a long, sometimes painful, process. In between then and now I’ve worked constantly at my writing, fitting it in around part-time teaching, taking workshops and courses (including an MA and PhD in creative writing), seeking out any chance to network with publishers and endlessly submitting pieces then confronting the rejections. Eventually I started getting work accepted more often than rejected. Finally I got a deal from Cinnamon Press to publish my Celtic Colours Trilogy.
Part one, Green Dawn at St Enda’s, came out last year for the centenary of the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising which the novel centres on, offering a fictional retelling of this historic event from the perspective of a schoolboy embroiled in the rebellion. Part two, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, is out this October and it’s with the release of this second book that I feel I’ve made it. Perhaps that’s because everyone is reckoned to have one novel in them so to be a ‘real’ writer you need more. I’ve even started telling people it’s what I do for a living.
Given the slog to get here and the fact that there is not much (hardly any) money in writing (I make a living teaching writing now I’m published and therefore an ‘expert’) why have I stuck with this? It’s because I love storytelling. There is nothing like the escape into imagination for me. Common advice to writers is ‘write what you know’. Pah! Rubbish! Yes, draw on your experiences but don’t limit yourself to them otherwise there are many thrilling, poignant and magical stories you’ll never let yourself tell. Like the story I tell in Herself Alone.
I’ve never been in the IRA. I’ve never planted a car bomb in the early hours. I’ve never had to look someone in the eyes, knowing if I don’t kill them they’ll kill me. I’ve never lost a lover in war. But many women, from all cultures and communities have, yet their stories remain either unwritten or badly written by novelists. I know because, in the specific case of IRA women, I read reams of Troubles fiction (yes, this is a thing – fiction about the Troubles in Ireland), searching for such novels only to fail to find any. Either there are no female characters who are IRA members in the novels or, which is worse, there are some terribly clichéd, stereotyped female IRA characters. Cue a cast of reluctant naïve girlie terrorists, ice-maiden assassins, treacherous femme fatals and butch macho-women.
So with Herself Alone I was on a mission to find a way to write a novel that told the story of these women who took up arms for the Republican cause. I didn’t do that because I’m a Republican supporter (I’m anti all politics if you want to know). I did it because it was a great story that hadn’t been told in fiction, not in any genuine way, and I wanted to put that right. I wanted to find out what life was like for such women. I did extensive research into various biographical and sociological source books to find out what they did, why and how. Then I found a way to tell that story in fiction, creating characters that resembled these real life women and scenes that depicted what their lived experiences of life in the IRA was really like. It’s as honest as possible, for a novel. It was a great story to tell because it was an unknown, untold story. It’s a hard read, I suspect, especially for those who remember the Troubles, but I also think it’s an enlightening, enthralling one and that for me is the power of storytelling.
Tracey Iceton is an author and creative writing tutor from Teesside who recently completed her PhD in creative writing at Nortumbria University. Green Dawn at St Enda’s, her debut novel and the first in the Celtic Colours Trilogy, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016.
Find Tracey at her website: http://www.trywriting.co.uk