Tip to writers: stick to what you know. For me, it’s the houses of my Limerick childhood – dilapidated, damp and haunted. According to official records, my grandmother’s family home, Mannister House, was demolished ‘because of problems with ghosts’. In my great uncle’s home, Clonmacken House, where James II once sought refuge, the ghost of a black sailor was sometimes seen on the backstairs. He’d come up the secret passage which led from the river Shannon, hoping to seduce a maid who was working in the house. Instead, a jealous rival killed him and left his ghost to haunt the house until the day it was burnt down.
Crag Liath, the ‘big house’ which features in A WRONG TO SWEETEN and its sequel, A HERITAGE OF WRONG, is modelled on Clonmacken House: ‘a sombre mansion, 250 years old, grey-stoned, flat-faced, dignified, alluring.’
Inside, however, Crag Liath is far more enticing than Clonckmacken ever was: ’the drawing room floor inlaid with satinwood… the staircase hall painted an inimitable subdued orange…on the staircase was a mural, a depiction of a hunt and who cared that the pink coats of the huntsmen clashed with the hues of the hall when the outcome was a blaze of vibrant colour ?’
And then there is the land.. In A WRONG TO SWEETEN and A HERITAGE OF WRONG the powerful O’Brien family own fifteen hundred acres of Ireland. Land from which to draw a sense of identity. Land, too, which might tempt a man to murder…
Joy Martin was born in Limerick. A former journalist, she is the author of eight novels.
Her agents are Coombs Moylett Maclean, 120 New Kings Road, Fulham, London SW6 4LZ.