Recently orphaned, eleven year old, Skyla McFee awakens to the hauntingly beautiful world of the imagination and gains wisdom far beyond her years. Though bullied both at home and at school, she is not defeated; though locked in a cold, dark cellar, she retreats into an ineffable light that guides her to freedom. She discovers how to befriend enemies and lead lost souls back to themselves.
What made you decide to write this book?
The idea for the book came about because of the birth of my granddaughter, Siolfor-Rose. My daughter, Aleisha, suggested that this might be a good time to write down the stories I had told her as a child. She wanted me to pass on something of the quality of nana’s soul to her daughter. I had been experiencing difficult health issues. Due to the financial, global crisis, we were forced to walk away from the eco, energy-efficient house we had built in Ireland. It is a really beautiful house that was featured in The Times. But we simply could not sell it. So we were forced to start again with absolutely no financial backup at our age! We had nothing to live on. Having had a wonderful career in overseas Aid and International Development, my husband was forced to work as a carpenter at the age of 61! Fortunately, he is very fit! I could not earn a living because of my health. Writing is always a huge risk as there is no guarantee of ever selling anything. But writing the book really helped me to focus on something beautiful and inspiring. I literally escaped into Skyla’s world. Experiencing my granddaughter reconnected me to the purity, excitement and unbridled joy of being here NOW! Writing Orange Petals in a Storm literally saved me.
Where did the title come from?
Just like the story itself, it emerged. There is something about a blank page. There is always a story that wants to speak itself. I tend to allow the space to speak. I never set out with much of a plot. I allow what needs to be born to take on its own life, shape and rhythm.
Do you always write in this genre?
Previously, I had written non-fiction. I have a background in Psychotherapy…particularly Jungian. So I am a great proponent of myth and symbol and how it has meaning within the unconscious. The soul speaks in symbols. Its quiet voice needs to be heard. But it can only be heard with our hearts. I decided to pass on some of the wisdom I have learned through simple stories. I am past the time where I want to analyse. And I always think guiding people into the inner world reveals it so much better than trying to explain it or theorise..The Inner World is where we experience our own reality and connect to those lives that have gone before us. I want people to experience it for themselves.
What was your inspiration to write and when did you start?
I have always been a scribbler. I remember writing soulful, mournful poems at the age of twelve. I came from a very large, Irish catholic family that was extraordinarily dysfunctional. In the attempt to express myself, I found it more fulfilling to create a world of beauty away from the violence and ugliness that surrounded me. Few could find me there. And although I was deeply affected by my childhood, my essence remained intact!
When I was a singer…many years ago back in the 70′s I wrote my own songs. I love struggling to put things into words, to tease out the essence of something, to write pithy sentences that convey complex ideas in simple ways. I read all the classics by the time I was 17 even though I left school illegally at 14! Many years later, I entered university at PhD level. I believe I am one of the few people in the world ever to do that, let alone a woman of my generation! My application went all the way to the Dean’s office. Being able to write brought me to such lofty halls of learning!
What was your destination to publishing? ie are you self published.
In the early days, I tried, like everyone else, to find a publisher. I became so sick of rejections for one reason or another. I decided searching for a publisher could damage my health! As I have always preached that where possible, we should not become disempowered by others whether individuals, systems or huge corporations, I decided not to allow the conglomerates to decide whether or not I could have a voice in the world. I am certain that my talent is God-given, whatever that means to you. As far as I am concerned, it is of the soul, the Divinity within each of us. And I think it important to give soul a voice! I didn’t bother to look for a publisher for my new book. I have joined the Indie revolution!
Do you have a website to share?
Any links to the book/books
Please feel free to share an exerpt.
Not until she reached Kingsland Road did she relax her pace to a brisk walk. Some might have thought it strange to see a young girl walking with pace and determination along East London’s drenched streets at such a time of night. She wore no coat. Dressed in her grey school skirt and blue jumper, only the local school she attended defined her. Those in the warm safety of their cars or huddled under umbrellas might indeed have given her a passing glance and wondered what she was doing there mud-stained and alone.She swung left into Downham Road and continued her pace until she reached De Beauvoir Road. Turning right, she came at last to St. Peter’s Church. In happier times, she had loved the chiming bells and the clock on the front of its Gothic tower, but on this night, the church held little interest. Running at a right angle to it was her final destination: Number Six Northchurch Terrace.
She did not intend to enter the house that once had been her home. She intended instead to pass beneath the rose arch at the bottom of the garden, search out the loose fence plank, slide it across, and squeeze through the gap into the builder’s yard.
She stood between the Church buttresses in search of shelter from the rain but found little. The rain dripped from her hair, into her eyes, down her face and off the end of her nose. She shivered and stared at the house on the other side of the road. All that concerned her now was how to enter the garden whilst avoiding detection. She would choose her moment carefully; she would watch and wait until the house became dark and still.
The Church bell chimed the passing of another hour. At last, when all was quiet and the rain-sodden, glistening street slept, she crossed the road and opened the iron gate. Descending the steep, stone steps to the lower garden level, she hid amongst the shadows. Moving quietly with their slowly unfolding motions and shapes, she had little to fear from such as these. Those silent inhabitants of her once beloved garden had been her friends. Once again, they cloaked her well, enabling her to move to the garden’s end. Passing beneath the rose bushes, she sought out the loose plank. Though she searched, carefully feeling the edge of each one, she could not find the plank that would give her entry into the builder’s yard. Her final vestiges of strength and determination ebbed away into the saturated earth. Sinking into the mud, she curled up into a tiny ball and gave herself up to the rain.
Purr! Purrrrrh! Again, Purr! Purrrrrh! Mick sounded like a telephone. His insistence pulled her out of the numbness that had crawled over her. The cat’s presence enticed her back into the cold, wet world. He pressed his warm nose close to her ear. He head-butted her, letting her know he was delighted to see her again, his person returned to him. Purr! Purrrrrh! He rubbed along her body. Then jumping onto her hip, he walked along her side with his tail flicking in the air. Despite her fatigue, she managed to sit upright. She hugged the cat and pressed her face into his wet fur for warmth and companionship. The cold crept through her like a silent thief, pinching her features and turning them blue.
The child of eleven years remained sitting upright, silent and unmoving beneath the roses at the bottom of the garden…
Many thanks Niamh for sharing your book and life. I’m sure we all wish you well with sales.