I recently took part in the blog tour for Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I LOVED it. I reached out to the author to ask if she would like to be interviewed on my blog, and she said yes!
Now, on to the interview!
R: Hi Denise, introduce yourself to Book Geek readers, and tell us a little about you – what do you do when you aren’t writing?
D: Hello, Book Geek readers! I’m an Irish writer of adult and young adult fiction. When not writing, I like to dream, read, watch movies, walk in nature with my dog (Homer), chat with my family, and eat out as often as possible. I’m a big fan of weddings! We won’t talk about the time I spend on social media.
R: I think we all spend a silly amount of time on social media! Writing can be a very difficult profession, so what made you want to become a writer?
D: I was doing a literature review for a Masters in PR. A book didn’t exist that should have. So I wrote it. As soon as it was published, I was struck by an overwhelming, inexplicable urge to write fiction. Without an agent, publisher or even an idea for a book, I gave up my business to follow my dream.
R: Wow! That was such a risk, but I’m do glad you did! Through the Barricades tells the story of Maggie and Daniel’s relationship, set during the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. Where did the inspiration come from for this story, and what made you want to tell it?
D: I’m a bit of a rebel at heart. I am also very proud of my Irish heritage. The centenary of the 1916 Rising was approaching and I wanted to write a story of a girl rebel who was prepared to sacrifice everything for what she believed in. And I wanted her to fall in love with a pacifist!
R: This novel has romance and the compulsory (and fantastic) Irish sense of humour, but it also has more serious scenes, including chapters set during the First World War, as well as the Easter Rising. How much research did you have to do for this novel, and how historically accurate are the events you include?
D: I spent two years researching this book. There were three big areas to cover:
- The Lockout of 1913 (Dublin workers were locked out of their jobs when they dared to strike),
- A specific Irish regiment fighting in Gallipoli during WW1
- The Easter Rising of 1916 (a rebellion that changed Irish history).
The research was both challenging and fascinating. I discovered that historical reports are subject to interpretation. As such, they vary. The secret was to find as much information from primary sources, such as witness statements of people who were actually there. Events included in the book are as accurate as they could possibly be. I wanted readers to be able to rely on what they were reading.
R: You can definitely tell the book is well researched, which makes it an even more impressive read! Irish history can be a very difficult subject, but you’ve managed to weave it in to a great story, that also addresses an abundance of other issues (class, social structure, feminism, etc.). How difficult was the planning process for this novel to ensure all elements worked seamlessly?
D: The level of editing on this book was huge. When covering such a fascinating period there is always a danger of the history taking over. I had to keep reminding myself that this story – like all stories – should be first and foremost about the characters – their motivations, their dilemmas, their choices, their struggle.
R: I love that! Although the historical elements are very well written, I really fell in love with the characters in this novel. So, lots of Book Geek readers are budding writers – I have to ask the obligatory question – what is your favourite, and least favourite, part of the writing process?
D: I quite like editing because the book is already there and editing is about making it better. I think the hardest part for me is the beginning when it’s all so loose and open. I like to get cracking. I like to be in the thick of it – lost in another world – with the characters taking over and telling me what’s going to happen next.
R: Introduce Through the Barricades to Confessions of a Book Geek readers in one sentence.
D: Maggie was prepared to sacrifice everything for her country; Daniel was prepared to sacrifice everything for her. (Notice the sneaky use of a semi-colon there.)
R: Very well done! Now, time for the Quick-Fire Round. Weigh in on the eternal debate – eBook or hard-copy?
D: Hands up, I like ebooks. I like that I can have them immediately. I like that I can carry them with me wherever I go. I like that they are environmentally friendly. And I like the practicality of them costing less because they are cheaper to produce.
R: What is your favourite word?
D: Bockety. It means: not quite broken but almost e.g. a wobbly table. It is a word that Irish people use when speaking (our version of) English. It originated in the Irish language but sneaked its way into our English in an adapted form. Sadly, it is a word that is being forgotten by this generation because it isn’t used like it used to be. I want to bring it back!
R: What is your favourite non-fiction book?
D: There are so many but because some of your Book Geek readers are also writers, I’m going to pick The Artist’s Way, which is a powerful book that stimulates creativity.
R: Do you prefer the hero or the villain?
D: I like both – as long as the hero has a dark side/weakness or the villain has something appealing about them e.g. a sharp wit. My favourite characters seem to be tough, uncompromising, and possibly gruff on the outside but soft on the inside. These characters always sneak into my stories and then into my heart.
R: What are you currently working on that we can look forward to?
D: I am currently in that uncomfortable place between looking for inspiration and hoping for magic!
Links for readers to find out more about Denise Deegan and her work:
Massive thanks to Denise for agreeing to be interviewed, and offering a copy of her book for the giveaway! Have you read Through the Barricades? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!