Jane Buckley who has published the first book in a series of four.
The first book in a series of four by a debut Derry author aimed at educating all generations, particularly the young, about 'The Troubles' is receiving rave reviews.
Jane Buckley hopes her self-published Stones Corner book series will prove inspirational to anyone with a book idea who believes the only way is through a traditional agent.
The first instalment in the series, entitled Turmoil, has garnered rave reviews following its February release.
Jane has been an avid reader all her life and if the opportunity had existed when she was younger would have loved to become a journalist.
She began writing her first novel in 2017 but put the manuscript away in a drawer for a couple of years.
She revealed she took a 'risk' to self-publish after her manuscript was turned by agents 'wary' of the subject matter.
She said: “Some blatantly admitted, 'never have, never will have anything to do with the Troubles in Northern Ireland, good luck'.”
But Jane was determined to educate people about 'The Troubles' with her moving historical fiction.
She revealed: “I had to get published – somehow - and so I took a huge risk. I cashed in my pension, ordered 2,000 copies of Turmoil and even developed my own paperback ordering platform so I didn’t have to use Amazon or similar.
“As big as Amazon is, time and time again it doesn’t appear to be an ally of independent bookshops.
“As readers or writers we must all support these wonderful passionate people who are struggling to enrich our lives through literature and books.”
Stones Corner: Turmoil is part one of the four book series portraying life in Derry in the 1970s through to bringing peace to Northern Ireland with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.– the other three being Darkness, Hope and Light, Jane said: “As a 'factional book' it covers a great deal of issues encountered at that time by both sides of the sectarian divide including conflict, cruelty, divided loyalties, strong family ties, gallows humour and star-crossed lovers.
“Living in the city of Derry in the '70s wasn’t easy for any of us. It didn’t get much better as an Irish woman living in London in the '80s and '90s. One of my greatest frustrations was the lack of understanding from the people I met on why 'The Troubles' began or continued over the decades. Some were particularly biased in their views by what they heard or read in the media – sadly some still are.”
She added: “I’d never written anything like it in my life, but I knew I just had to see it in its full form.
“I want Stones Corner to educate younger generations through historically based fiction. I hope they read and learn what it was like to live through those difficult days from both sides of the divide, without bias.”
Jane was inspired to write the series after spending many years travelling the world meeting 'very many fantastic people.'
She explained: “Leaving school, having gained a diploma in secretarial skills at the Tech (now North West Regional College) in Derry, I, like my sisters, decided to leave Derry in the early 1980s to move to London.
“Over the next 30-plus years, I worked hard, and 'lady luck' seemed to trail me such that I had the opportunity to travel all over the world with my work. I met so many fantastic people. However, many never appeared to understand what caused 'The Troubles' in the first place. Repeatedly, I'd try to explain and so hailed my inspiration to write Stones Corner, Turmoil.”
She added: “Most of us know what those years were like and how they felt; both the older and younger generations probably don't want to hear about them any more, or maybe some are just not interested and would prefer we forget. Although I understand, I believe we should not forget. We should remember, and we should never think of going back.
“Any adult - young or old - should read Stones Corner. Why? I'll tell you why, because unlike the numerous journalistic articles or books or even TV programmes made about those dark years, Stones Corner is primarily a thriller. A gripping thriller that tops and tails actual events.
“Events that - for apparent reasons – have been modified. Indirectly, Turmoil is an educational journey. It takes us back in time and allows us to experience and understand the pain and grief in the heart of Derry, its people, and other parts of the North in those raw, brutal years.
“Importantly, however, it will have any reader guessing and speculating what will happen next! So far, most readers haven't seen the end coming - what a cliff-hanger.”
She added: “I never dreamt I'd become an author, no matter a published author! It's been a fantastic journey so far, but it's hard work and, at times, totally disillusioning. I have completed two books – Turmoil and Darkness. I must finish the next two in the series, Light and Hope, within the next two years, given the fantastic reviews
“I've received so far and espe- cially five-star reviews from Indie- Reader.”
Jane is the second youngest of five children – three girls and two boys - of Noel and Teresa Hegarty. Her father was a well-known athlete and local character who lived in Westland Terrace and worked with her grandfather, Charles Hegarty, who ran a slaughterhouse right in the very heart of the Bogside and not too far from 'Stones Corner' (off Creggan Street) - hence the name of the series.
Jane proudly said she was told her mother (nee McGinty), who was born and raised in Bishop Street, 'was one of the most beautiful women in Derry.'
Her sisters are Cathy and Paula but, sadly, she has lost her two brothers, Charles and Brian,
After attending Nazareth House Primary School in Bishop Street, Jane transferred to St Patrick's Girls Primary School, Pennyburn, when the family moved to Bloomfield Park before going on to attend what she described as the 'newly-built and trendy' Carnhill High School (now St Brigid's) where, she revealed, her 'love' for books began.
She said: “I read all sorts, from the simplicity and love stories of Catherine Cookson to the horrors of Stephen King. I'd find myself hiding somewhere in the house to read and where there was less chance of being disturbed! Once I started to read, there was no stopping me. I had to find out what happened next, and within minutes I was transported into another world. It was magic.”
She revealed her going on to become a swimming champion came about through 'high jinks' at the local swimming pool.
She said: “On a day I will never forget, I was playfully pushed into the 10-metre-deep diving pool of the inviting, warm William Street Baths by the lifeguard and lovely man, Jimmy Quigley. I had no choice but to swim, and within a short time, I joined the Derry City Swimming Club.”
In 1977, she was crowned the 100-metre backstroke Ulster champion, training for many years with the late Liam Ball, who competed at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games in Mexico and Munich respectively, and Brian Kelly at the Foyle Amateur Swimming Club.
She revealed the life of an amateur swimmer was a tough one.
She recalled: “I vividly remember ice forming on my hair after those very early winter morning training sessions as I walked home to get ready for school.”
She added: “I have always loved Derry, the people and swimming. Every second Saturday, there'd be a swimming gala of some sort, somewhere. It was a fantastic way for me as a young teenager to get out and see the world - to meet people from all denominations. I recall the swimming galas vividly with the red, white, and blue Union Jack colours down one side of the pool and the green, white and orange Tricolour, on the other. It seems surreal now but, thankfully, I made friends, Protestant friends, who remain friends to this day.
“Other than swimming or any other form of sport, there was, unfortunately - at that time -little opportunity to mix socially with teenagers of different creeds.”
Many readers of Turmoil have already pre-ordered the second instalment in the series, Darkness, due for release in late September this year.
Set in Derry during the 1970s, Turmoil paints a vivid picture of life lived amidst armed struggle.
It’s a story of people trying to get on with their lives against a backdrop of discrimination, bigotry, revolutionary conflict, and state suppression.
It tells the story of a Catholic girl from the Bogside and the Protestant heir to a big local employer.
In her youthful innocence, Caitlin believes their love can overcome the triple obstacles of politics, class and faith.
Meanwhile, Robert, newly recruited to British undercover forces, is closing in on an IRA strike in the heart of the city centre.
In the backdrop are two opposing psychopaths set on the same destructive and violent path.
One that can only conclude in nothing but a cataclysmic and ruinous encounter.
Stones Corner: Turmoil can be purchased at www.janebuckley writes.com – it is also available on Kindle.
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