Author Nicola Cassidy at the launch of her novel December Girl with (from left) her husband Ronan Mc Quillan, literary reviewer Margaret Madden and Gerry Kelly of LMFM Radio.
They say there is a novel inside everyone but very few of us have the ambition, dedication or even the energy to get it written.
A head full of ideas can soon empty when confronted with a blank page, the slightest distraction can prevent the greatest work of fiction from being written.
So for local blogger Nicola Cassidy to get her first novel, a work of historical fiction called December Girl, out of her head, onto the page and into the shops is a major achievement in itself.
After all, being a mother of two young children and a busy lifestyle blogger, Nicola had distractions aplenty, any number of excuses to abandon the project. But she stuck with it and the book is there on the bookshelves and on line for all to see and hopefully buy.
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It must have been pleasing therefore for Nicola to see the large attendance at the launch party in The Grey Goose last week. The proud author was beaming as she signed copy after copy of the book which seemed to be shifting like the proverbial hot cakes.
Normally a book takes a chapter or two to draw the reader in but with December Girl you’re grabbed even before you open the pages – the tag line on the cover “What if your child was taken?” will resonate with any parent.
The fact that much of the story takes place in and around the Drogheda area and is inspired by true events, including an eviction that happened at Dowth in 1880, will be an added attraction for local readers but people who have never heard of Dowth, Mell or Drogheda will enjoy it because the story is truly gripping on a human level.
Right from the get go you can’t help but emphasise with Molly Thomas, a proud girl of country stock, as she deals with the problems thrown up by being from a poor family in a country ruled by males from a wealthy and powerful elite.
“I’ve taken these stories and moulded them into a work of fiction of my own” Nicola said. “I added new characters and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live at the end of the 19th century in the locality.
Nicola grew up in Tullyallen and has used Townley Hall House and the landscape at Dowth, places she used to play as a young girl, as a backdrop to her fictional grand manor ‘Brabazon House’.
“While my characters are made up – the setting, throughout, is pretty real” she said.
Nicola is obviously hoping that readers will enjoy her book, but warns it’s not a piece of light fiction. “I’ve explored some pretty dark themes and I imagine some readers might even be shocked by parts of the storyline” she warns.
“I enjoy pushing my characters to see what their reaction will be. I think life can be very dark sometimes and it’s how we react to and deal with the challenges we face that makes up our life story. I haven’t shied away from anything in this book.”
A week on from the launch the sales, both on Amazon and at Waterstones bookshops, are encouraging and certainly, if the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by the name Nicola Cassidy is one that we shall be hearing a lot more of in the future.
As one reviewer on Amazon said, this is a phenomenal start. Click here to read more reviews and to buy the book. If you prefer a paper version drop into Waterstones at Scotch Hall.
For more information visit www.nicolacassidy.com or follow her on Twitter or Facebook @LadyNicci.