Most recently, Cathy was a contestant on Food Glorious Food, a new ITV program where folks around Great Britain competed for the best recipe and the chance to win £20,000! This show starts airing in late February after Coronation Street, so stay tuned to see Cathy in action at the stove this time, rather than her computer :-)
Back to books, Cathy's debut novel, Shadow Across the Liffey published today through Tirgearr Publishing. The story is set in Cathy's native Dublin and is the story of Oona Quinn, who's forced to put her life back together after the loss of her husband and daughter. This is a very emotional read that will have you turning pages. Be sure to have a box of hankies at hand too!
We recently had a brief chat with this busy woman and found out what goes on away from the keyboard when she's not writing.
Welcome, Cathy, and congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Shadow Across the Liffey. Before we get to the excerpt, let's chat for a moment about you, the author. Readers love to know more about their favorite writers. What can you tell us about you? Such as, what's your writing space like?
|Cathy's garret -- Check out the screensaver on her PC!|
I love my garret. It’s where I feel most creative. When my husband retired as a architect, he lined the walls, fitted a carpet and put in a Velux window and he said “This is going to be my studio” He furnished it with a desk and a drawing board.
But, I’m glad to say that my passion to write was greater than his desire to draw, so the garret became mine. And I’ve made it my own for the past 15 years.
The best thing is that I don’t get too many interruptions because no one likes climbing the access ladder. It also keeps the smaller grandchildren downstairs but not so the older ones who love to clamber up to see what Nan is doing.
|View from Cathy's garret, late Jan '13|
Yes those are sheep in the field!
Sounds like a dream spot, Cathy. The perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in your stories. I'm very envious!
Tell us what your daily writing routine like.
I like to write in the morning, it’s when I’m at my best and ideas come easily. After breakfast I tidy the kitchen and do what chores need doing, otherwise I feel guilty. Then I take a quick look at my emails on my laptop. Although an author friend advised me never to do this before writing. “It saps your creativity,’ she said. How right she is. But I still do it. To me it’s like getting mail and I can’t wait to open it.
By then, it’s usually 9:30 – 10:00am before I get to my main computer. I usually have the next scene of the book in my head and want to get that down as a first draft. I work for 2 to 3 hours and then break for coffee with my husband.
When I come back I don’t do as much as I would like to, because I spend time on media sites, Facebook, Twitter, various blogs and publisher’s and author groups etc. It is all time consuming, but I like to interact with other writers. The majority of them are friendly and fun to network with. There is always something new to see and learn about.
I break again for lunch and a chat with my husband and then again when family and friend’s call and again to prepare dinner. The day goes by so fast and I’m never satisfied with what I’ve done, therefore it’s usually midnight before I call it a day.
By the sound of things, you're both a morning writer and a night owl. You obviously love writing. Tell us what you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I read lots of different genres especially authors I know and want to support. I wish I could read faster, but since I bought my kindle my eyes don’t get so tired and I can read for longer. I love it.
I watch a bit of telly and can’t get enough of dramas like, Downtown Abbey. I’m quiz mad and watch them when I can. I love live thearte and wish we had more choice here in Leicester. I like most music, and enjoy listening to school children playing instruments, some of them are so talented. My 7 year old grandson plays the violin. My favourite music to relax to is Johann Strauss.
I also love being around my gorgeous grandchildren. But two of them are living in Perth Australia and New Zealand. I miss them so much. But, I’m lucky as I still have grandchildren around me most weekends; the youngest is Alfie, 14 months. He’s so cute.
I’m planning to visit New Zealand/Australia next year or the year after. My favourite place to go to is Ireland. It’s in my blood and after years of living in Leicester, I still get excited when I know I’m going home. My daughter and I visited Galway two years ago. It inspired my current book Galway Girl.
You have a very rich and full life, Cathy, in front of and behind the computer. Thanks for sharing some of it with us, and let's here more about Galway Girl when it's ready!
Now, let's read some of Shadow Across the Liffey.
• • •
Vinnie Kelly, her son's biological father, just out of jail, sets out to destroy both Oona and all she holds dear. Haunted by her past, she has to fight for her future and the safety of her son, Sean. But Vinnie has revenge on his mind . . .
Dublin City, 25th March 1961
Sergeant McNally would never forget the pink icing sugar. It was the worst accident he had witnessed since joining the Gardá Síochaná, twenty years ago. If his doctor had not suggested walking as a healthy exercise, he would have taken the car and avoided Dock Road that day.
Most collisions just happen, mostly during bad weather, when cars slide into one another. That was not the case here. It was dry, with a clear sky – ideal for a brisk walk. This was no accident. It appeared to him that the driver of the van, travelling from the docks at speed, on the wrong side of the road, was intent on killing himself and anyone else he could take with him.
The van hit the black Morris Minor, the force sending it spinning it out of control into the path of oncoming traffic. The van overturned several times and the car ended up on its side. Then all he could hear was the sound of crunching metal and hissing steam.
‘Good God!’ The magnitude of the scene as it unfolded before his eyes stunned him. Children cried; people screamed out for help.
McNally acted as fast as he could, alerting the ambulance services and relaying news of the crash to his colleagues at the station. Over the years he had been called out to many accidents, some fatal. The reason that this one had made such an impression was that a small child had been killed senselessly, and he had witnessed it. It happened yards from where he walked along the pavement, and nothing he could have done to prevent it – a fact that would haunt him for a very long time.
An eerie silence descended. Eyewitnesses looked at the pile-up in horror, and the Dublin street came to a standstill. Car doors opened and those uninjured scrambled out. Others, some bleeding from cuts and bruises, stood around in a daze.
‘Help’s on its way,’ McNally shouted.
‘Over here!’ a man cried. ‘The van driver’s dead. Can someone check for injuries in the other cars?’
‘I’m a doctor!’ someone else said. ‘This one’s bad. The man at the wheel is dead.’
McNally climbed on top of what was once a Morris Minor but which now resembled a mound of compressed metal, and peered inside. Pink icing sugar splattered the shattered windscreen. ‘God Almighty!’ he cried. ‘There’s a child trapped in the back. I can see a tiny hand. Glory be to God!’
• • •
Cathy Mansell writes romantic fiction. Her recently written family sagas are set in her home country of Ireland. One of these sagas closely explores her affinities with Dublin and Leicester. Her children's stories are frequently broadcast on local radio and she also writes newspaper and magazine articles. Cathy has lived in Leicester for fifty years. She belongs to Leicester Writers' Club and edited an Arts Council-funded anthology of work by Lutterworth Writers, of which she is president.
Find Cathy online --
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