Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton. My thanks to Karen Bultiauw for the invitation to join. White Leaves of Peace is the final instalment in the Celtic Colour Trilogy and today, Tracey visits my blog to talk about the research that went into this series.
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
The final part of the explosive Celtic Colours Trilogy. When the big men get around the table on Good Friday of 1998 and sign up to peace in Northern Ireland nine year old Cian Duffy’s story should have ended. Instead it is the beginning of a decade of Troubles for him. Haunted by his mother’s IRA past and chased by present day violence sectarianism, Cian ends up being forced to flee peace-torn Belfast. Facing a life in exile, he reconciles himself the past and makes a new life for himself, somewhere he feels he belongs.
Then Britain votes for Brexit; the old adage of England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity is tabled yet again and Cian has to confront the past and the future.
White Leaves of Peace is a stark reminder that ending a war takes more than the signing of a treaty. Peace is hard won. You have to fight for it.
Available to buy from Amazon UK
| GUEST POST |
Researching the Celtic Colours Trilogy
The Celtic Colours trilogy has been my most heavily researched fiction project, weaving real historical events into the plots and using real people as characters alongside invented characters and imagined storylines. Doing so I discovered the advantages of research-based fiction writing.
Parts one and two, Green Dawn at St Enda’s and Herself Alone in Orange Rain required extensive research. Green Dawn, set 1911-1916, tells the story of fictional schoolboy Finn Devoy who ends up fighting in the Dublin Easter Rising. I knew little about the topic so read widely and visited relevant places, including the Pearse Museum in Dublin which is as it was when it was St Enda’s. This all helped recreate period and place in the book and ensure accuracy. Orange Rain is set during the 1980s, when I was a child. The book centres on Caoilainn Devoy, Finn’s granddaughter, and her experiences as an IRA volunteer. Again it needed much research, reading accounts by/about IRA women and uncovering pertinent facts. I also talked to people who lived through this period and drew on that during the writing. Though somewhat problematic, this firsthand research added an extra dynamic, bringing the story to life for me; I hope this comes over in the novel.
Set in my own lifetime, I thought White Leaves of Peace would require the least research. I was wrong. When did ipods come out? What was the craze in kids’ toys in 1998? Who was in the charts in the early 2000s? I made work for myself by having the main character, Cian Duffy (Caoilainn’s son) be a computer nerd and I’m expecting letters from IT experts pointing out my ‘tech’ errors. More significantly, reading around events in Northern Ireland during the period I realised how much I didn’t know, news that didn’t cross the Irish sea. It was a lesson to never assume I know what I need to in order to write about something. I also did more firsthand research, talking to people who knew what Cian’s life would have been like which was invaluable. And I was able to draw on my own experiences, particularly for the Australia section of the novel – I lived there for a year. If you can use what you know you should, although I wouldn’t let lack of knowledge restrict me. If a topic interests me enough to write about it, it interests me enough to research it also.
So to anyone considering research-heavy novel projects I say don’t be deterred. Researching can take fiction to exciting places, uncovering unexpected angles to stories and introducing writers to people who will make for engaging characters. Researching, although time-consuming, can make writing easier, giving you a framework for the story. And truth really can be wilder than fiction so why not use it to your advantage?
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Tracey Iceton is an author and creative writing tutor from Teesside who completed a PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. An English teacher experienced in delivering creating writing courses and workshops, Tracey won the 2013 HISSAC short story prize for ‘Butterfly Wings’, was runner up in the 2013 and 2014 Cinnamon Press short story competitions with ‘Slag’ and ‘As the world (re)turns’, which appear in the anthologies Journey Planner and Patria. She also won the 2011 Writers Block NE Home Tomorrow Short Story Competition and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Bristol Short Story Competition with ‘Apple Shot’ and the 2015 Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition for ‘Ask Not’.
Green Dawn at St Enda’s, her debut novel and part one of her Celtic Colours Trilogy, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016 followed by Herself Alone in Orange Rain in 2017. White Leaves of Peace is the final part of the companion trilogy.
Tracey regularly reads at literary events. Her stories have appeared in; Prole, Litro, Neon, Tears in the Fence, The Momaya Annual Review, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Muse.
You can find her online on her website www.trywriting.co.uk.