How excited am I today to have the wonderful Jo Spain join me on Swirl and Thread for Irish Writers Wednesday.
Jo is the author of the bestselling Inspector Tom Reynolds series but today she has written a special post for us entitled Ireland ~ Land of saints, scholars and sinners.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Jo now…
Ireland ~ Land of saints, scholars and sinners
by Jo Spain
A few years ago, the Irish national broadcaster ran a Hit show entitled Love/Hate. Set in Dublin, it delved into the murky inner world of crime gangs and drug lords. It was a departure for Irish TV, and so say all of us who grew up listening to the delightful strains of Glenroe’s opening credits on a Sunday night. The most exciting the sedate Wicklow-based farm soap ever got was a bit of a romp in a haybarn.
Love/Hate told the world that, yes, Ireland is a beautiful country with witty, clever people but those images you have in your head from The Quiet Man are only one part of the story.
Bad things can and do happen against our nice green backdrop.
Irish writers have been tapping into that well of madness for years.
Not just in crime, my own writing genre.
One of the books that affected me most growing up was Brinsley MacNamara’s The Valley of the Squinting Windows. It’s a horrible little tale, with indeed a crime committed in it, but it’s more a literary study of a small town and the viciousness that can exist there. The film, Widow’s Peak, did the same thing years later, albeit with a softer tone.
When I set out to write crime fiction, it was important to me to do more than just plot. I wanted to capture the beauty of Ireland and sell our country (and why not? Every time I read a book set in Paris or rural Sweden, I want to move there). But I also wanted to make a study of our people, our many flaws and strengths.
To write crime with depth, you need societal context and Ireland is the gift that keeps giving.
We live in a country where people routinely turn a blind eye or tacitly accept the abuses and corruption in our most important institutions. We removed one oppressor and allowed the Catholic Church to fill the void. Our political system is still, in the main, parochial and unrepresentative. People in power can protect each other even against the most serious of accusations. And the attitude to women, in 2017, sometimes makes me feel like we’re living in a backwater bible belt.
Who couldn’t help but include this in their writing?
It’s a rich fabric of secrets and lies and sordid goings-on that can lend itself to any genre but especially crime. And we Irish writers can hold a magnifying glass up to it and say, Look. Look at this stunning landscape, this culture, this history and look at our people. See what we’ve done right and what we do wrong.
It’s no wonder Irish writers are so well regarded with all that to mine.
And we do it so well.
Not that I’m biased . . .
Me neither Jo!!!
Thank you so much for your fab post. I really enjoyed that as I’m sure you all did too!!
To find out more about Jo Spain, please do continue reading her bio below with links to the three books in the Inspector Tom Reynolds Series.
Jo Spain has worked as a journalist and a party advisor on the economy in the Irish parliament. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and went on to be a top-ten bestseller in Ireland.
Joanne lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.
Joanne can be found tweeting at @SpainJoanne