Today on #IrishWritersWed I am thrilled to welcome author of the The Last Lost Girl, Maria Hoey.
The Last Lost Girl was published by Poolbeg in July 2017. I read and loved it. A novel packed with nostalgia of a bygone era.
Maria has written a gorgeous post for us all today with a very personal reflection on her own youth.
Entitled ‘Me and William Shakespeare‘, I do hope you enjoy…
ME AND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
by Maria Hoey
(Image courtesy of Cian Redmond)
When people ask me “why do you write” I am tempted to answer “because I must. Because every hour of every day I spend doing something else (apart from eating, sleeping and reading of course) is an hour when a whiney voice in my brain is nagging me – you should be writing.”
And that compulsion to write is there even when I do not know what it is I should be writing, or what my story should be or why I should be the one to tell it. Because why should I be vain enough to believe that there is a story that only I can tell? Or a story that I can tell better than one of the many millions of writers scribbling or tapping away right this very minute all over this planet?
The truth is I am not vain enough to believe either of those things. As a child I was an avid reader of Enid Blyton. My father did not approve. He had other ideas on what constituted good reading and on my thirteenth birthday presented me with a very beautiful (and no doubt expensive) edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I am sad to say it was completely wasted on me. But I still think that I might have gotten on better with Hamlet, Macbeth & Co if my father, every time he saw another Enid Blyton book in my hand, hadn’t insisted on telling me I should be bettering myself by reading Shakespeare instead.
Of course my father meant well but his attitude to the books I loved to read left a lasting impression on me. So much so that I allowed one of the characters in my debut novel, The Last Lost Girl to verbalise the contempt I had felt for Mr Shakespeare at the time, but had dared not express. I can laugh at it all now, but in fact the whole Shakespeare thing went even deeper than I had realised. You see, my father really believed that Shakespeare had said all there was to be said and said it more exquisitely than anyone before or after ever could. Unfortunately he could not help himself saying so, over and over again. And I know now that I internalised that message.
I survived the Enid Blyton years and, despite my father’s fears, suffered no lasting damage that I know of. Sadly for him, I moved on not to Shakespeare but to Agatha Christie although eventually I did learn to love the classics and even, I will admit, a little Shakespeare. But when I began to seriously think about writing MY book, the book I knew I just HAD to write, a little voice constantly nagged away inside my head, and the question it asked was “will this be good enough? After all you’re not exactly William Shakespeare.”
And still I had to write it. And not just to satisfy my own need to do so. I wanted people to read it; if I wrote for myself alone I would just keep a journal. That book has now been published and recently I was honoured to be asked to say a few words at a literary awards ceremony in my home town of Swords. Many years ago one of my short stories won first prize in the same awards and now that I was a published writer the organisers thought it would be nice to have me speak about “my success”.
I admit I was a little at a loss as to what to say, my success to date running to just one published novel and a half-written second book. I felt a bit of a fraud, but then as I watched the winning writers go up to collect their prizes or certificates of merit I realised that it was important I speak from the heart to these people who, just like me, had been blessed or cursed with that need to write. I won’t bore you with the entire content of my speech, just one line of it, I told them, “If you believe you have a book inside you, you do.”
I believed it, and despite the nagging voices and the knowledge that I am no William Shakespeare the trick then was to write that book and to write it in the way that only I could – because let’s face it no one else can ever do that. And one thing I know for sure, if he were still here see my first book on the bookshop shelves, nobody would be prouder of me than my father.’
Unravelling the past can be dangerous . . .
On a perfect July evening in the sizzling Irish summer of 1976, fifteen-year-old Festival Queen Lilly Brennan disappears. Thirty-seven years later, as the anniversary of Lilly’s disappearance approaches, her sister Jacqueline returns to their childhood home in Blackberry Lane. There she stumbles upon something that reopens the mystery, setting her on a search for the truth a search that leads her to surprising places and challenging encounters.
Jacqueline feels increasingly compelled to find the answer to what happened to Lilly all those years ago and finally lay her ghost to rest. But at what cost? For unravelling the past proves to be a dangerous and painful thing, and her path to the truth leads her ever closer to a dark secret she may not wish to know.
Purchase Link ~ The Last Lost Girl
Meet Maria Hoey:
Maria Hoey has been writing since she was eight years old. Her poetry has appeared in Ireland foremost poetry publication, Poetry Ireland, and her poems and short stories have also appeared in various magazines.
In 1999, Maria won first prize in the Swords Festival Short Story Competition. In 2010, she was runner-up in the Mslexia International Short Story Competition and was also shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award.
Maria was raised in Swords, Co Dublin, and has one daughter, Rebecca. She lives in Portmarnock with her husband, Dr Garrett O Boyle.
The Last Lost Girl is her first novel.
Twitter ~ @MariaHoey
Great post! I really enjoy this feature!
Thank you so very much Meggy!! I love it myself:) Such variety. x
Brilliant post Mairead 🙂
Thanks Kate xx
Another great post in this wonderful series 🙂
Oh Nicki that’s wonderful to hear. Thank you!! x
Brilliant post, I was also an avid Enid Blyton reader much to my dad’s disgust and I moved onto Agatha Christie. I never got the Shakespeare box set though. Will be reading the book
That’s fantastic to hear. Thank you so v much Steph. I think we could start an Enid B club here 🙂 x
Another Enid Blyton fan here, and I would credit Enid with making me both a reader and a writer. Lovely post, Maria and Mairead
Anne Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. My love for The Faraway Tree still stands. Wonderful books. xx
Great read, many similarities to my own reading childhood. The books sounds fabulous too. Definitely one for me, thanks for making another wonderful discovery on my behalf Mairead.
Adrienne that makes me v v happy indeed. I honestly think you will really ‘get’ Maria’s book. Thank you as always. Xx