Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Date of Publication: March 3, 2015
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 63,000
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee for the Muse Designs
Twenty five year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland during a sabbatical from her job in the LA record business. While there, she’s offered a job too good to turn down, so she stays.
Although Hailey works in Galway, she lives in the countryside of Connemara, a rural area famous for its Irish traditional music. When Hailey meets local musician, Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks is the result of differing cultures, for Liam is married to the music, and so unbalanced at the prospect of love, he won't come closer nor completely go away.
And so begins the dance of attraction that Hailey struggles to decipher. Thankfully, a handful of vibrant local friends come to her aid, and Hailey learns to love a land and its people, both with more charm than she ever imagined.
There’s an energy that hangs between strangers even in a crowd. Call it interest, or attraction, or the knowledge of things to come. It is awareness, and I was aware to the exclusion of all activity around me that Liam Hennessey was watching me. He was sitting at the corner of the bar by himself, and because I could feel his gaze upon me like an electrical current, I froze. I did not move an inch because I sensed I didn’t have to, that something would come about with little prompting from me. I don’t know how I knew this, but I was right, it came about within the hour. It began as a series of introductions to people near Liam, and drew itself closer until Liam was introduced to me.
Right before Leigh left, claiming she had to get up early the next day to drive to Cork, Kieran pointed out that the Irish traditional musicians playing in the corner were the father and older brother of the lad sitting at the end of the bar.
“That’s Liam Hennessey at the bar there,” Kieran gestured to my right. “He’s the best box player in Connemara – even in the whole of Ireland, many say. His family is long in Connemara; they’re all players, so. That’s Sean Liam, his da, and his brother Anthony there on the guitar.” Kieran seemed proud to know the facts. He next took my arm and led me straight to Liam.
“I’ve the pleasure of knowing this American here, her name is Hailey,” Kieran announced to Liam.
I had an uneasy feeling. It’s one thing to suspect you’ll cross paths with someone again, and quite another to be fully prepared when it actually happens. For some unknown reason, I kept thinking it was strange to see Liam this far out in the country from Galway, but then again, what did I know? I didn’t know anything about him.
Liam looked at me with large dark eyes and smiled brightly. He was different than I had imagined: he was friendlier, more candid. I assumed because he looked so dark and mysterious, there would be a personality to match. I assumed he would be reserved, aloof, perhaps arrogant in an artistic sort of way. I was paying close attention, and there was none of that about Liam. In seconds, I realized he was a nice guy. I moved a step to my right as an older man approached the bar.
“Would ye give us a hand there,” the man said to Liam, and for the next few minutes, Liam handed pints over his head to a group of men too far from the bar’s edge to grab the glasses themselves. Just then, Kieran said something that set off a chain of events and put the rest of the night in motion.
“Liam, will you watch Hailey for me, I’m off to join the sessiun.” With that, Kieran produced a harmonica from his shirt pocket and walked off to join the musicians in the corner.
I stood at the bar and waited for the next thing to happen. The world seemed to operate in slow motion. All the noise in the room subsided, and the only thing I knew was I was looking directly at Liam Hennessey. I searched his face for imperfections. I had never before seen such beauty in the face of a man. I hoped my thoughts didn’t show on my face. He was so good looking, I wondered why other people in the room weren’t staring at him, then I realized most of Hughes’ patrons knew him and were probably used to the way he looked. I was reticent, unsure of how to speak to Liam, unfamiliar with how provincial he may or may not have been. Words tend to get in the way in moments like this, but they lay in wait just the same.
“You’re an American, yah?” he asked in that way the Irish have of answering their own question. “I’ve been to America,” he said.
“Where in America?” I encouraged.
“Boston, New York, Chicago. My cousins live in Chicago. I even went all the way to Niagara Falls.”
“Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Niagara Falls. What’s it like?”
“Not much, mind you, it’s a nice enough place, but ten minutes after I saw the falls, I was asking where I could get a nice cup of tea.”
“I imagine it would take a lot to be impressed after living here,” I said.
“I’d never want to live anywhere else. Everything you could ever want is here in Connemara.”
And it is, I thought. Connemara has a sense of peace I’ve never felt before.
“Are you long in Ireland?” he asked.
“I live here,” I said. “I live in Inverin.”
“Ah, so you’re just up the road. Me too.”
At 27-years-old, Liam lived with his parents in the house in which he grew up.He was a world-class Irish traditional musician that traveled often to places like Germany, Austria and New Zealand. He was in demand as a player in touring bands because he was a master at playing the button accordion. As such, he was more than a musician: he was the bearer of a torch that represented the history of an old culture. He brought the language of Irish music to regions that otherwise would have never been enlightened.
Being an Irish traditional musician is a feat not easily arrived at. Rather, it is a feat painstakingly achieved. Most of the tunes in a traditional player’s repertoire have been memorized through listening and repeated execution, as opposed to memorization by reading musical scores. Traditional music has been passed down through generational lines, and with Liam’s family, there had been no interruption. His father was a player, and the world in which Liam grew up was one of constant exposure to traditional music as if it were a language. I came to realize much later that Liam’s first language was music, his second language was Irish, and his third was English.
“So, you must be another American looking for their roots, then,” Liam stated.
If that was a question, then it’s a fair one, I thought.
“Actually, I’m working at the Galway Music Center,” I said, then I followed with my poetry aspirations, hoping to impress upon him I was not just passing through.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
A; I think I started my writing career by keeping a journal from the age of eighteen, I just wasn’t aware that’s what I was doing at the time. Every job I’ve ever had involved the art of communication in some way: my years on the radio in Memphis as a music DJ led to a move to Los Angeles where I worked in the music business representing bands, then as a Pilates and Ballet teacher. All throughout, I wrote poetry, and short stories. As I started to submit to publications, one thing led to another until I finally wrote my first novel just to try my hand! Once I had a little bit of success, I knew writing was what I wanted to do from there.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
A: Once I’d had about 4 pieces published in magazines. I had to go beyond thinking I’d gotten lucky! It was a build from there.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
A: Six months from the time I completed the manuscript.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
A: No, I am a full time writer, and it is a full time job! But it didn’t happen overnight!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
A: “Dancing to an Irish Reel”. 25 year old Hailey Crossan moves from LA to Ireland and learns about love from a local musician.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
A; Vinspire Publishing, LLC
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
A: a year to create the first draft, then another six months of re-writes.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
A; I am writing my third novel, which is a family saga set in the Deep South. I am 67,000 words into it now and still haven’t finished the story! This one may take a long time!
What genre would you place your books into?
A: Literary Fiction
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
A: I like to tell stories that defy a particular genre. My books are always a commentary on the things that happen to us as we simply live our lives. I think this is where the magic lives!
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
A: I like Hailey Crossan in “Dancing to an Irish Reel” She is curious, funny, intelligent, and, as an American in rural Ireland, she is confident and adventurous. In short, Hailey is cool!
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
A: I’ve been writing most my life, but seriously and full-time for the past four years. Nobody in particular inspired me; I just followed the voice within. I think writers have a longing to be heard and a longing to explain how they see things.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
A: I go to my desk first thing each morning no matter what. Since I write for magazines and other publications, and since I always have a novel taking shape, it is an incessant, full time job.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
A: Of course! I always hope for the best!
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
A: I use a working title as I write the book. If I need to re-title it later, I do!
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
A: my places names have been real, and as for the characters, I choose names that tell a bit of how they are.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
A: I have the essence of the character in mind, then I name the character. As for places, I am inspired by place and have always started with the place in mind as I write the story.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
A: It is a combination of the two.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
A: Yes. In “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” for example, the story points to the unpredictable road to love- how it is never a smooth, linear experience, how there is often times confusion and doubt along with the excitement and hope we have over coming to know someone we’re attracted to. The moral involves the notion that we learn about ourselves as we’re put through life’s paces. Sometimes we learn about the fears that hold us back, and other times we gain knowledge and wisdom through experience. Again, always we learn about ourselves, which is what helps us to grow and shapes our lives.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
A:”The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy. I’ve read it three times.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
A: The most disappointing book to movie was “Gone Girl.” Too much was left out, and, as the book was all interior monologue, to commit the premise to visual action was almost pointless.
As for favorite book to movie, “Withering Heights”—especially the version with Ralph Feinnes.
Your favorite singer/group is?
A: I will always love Dave Matthews!
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
A: Pat Conroy
Claire Fullerton is the author of Paranormal Mystery, A Portal in Time. She is an award winning essayist, a contributor to numerous magazines (including “Southern Writers Magazine) a former newspaper columnist and a four time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series.
She hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA where she is working on her third novel.