Tuesday, February 26, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Heidi Daniele, author of The House Children

Book Summary
In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway. 

At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland. 

Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.

Interview with Heidi Daniele
Can you talk a little bit about the process of writing a story based on actual events? How did you decide what elements to use, discard, or add?                
I was fortunate to connect with former residents of an industrial school who shared their experiences with me. They told me about life in the school, and living under the care and supervision of The Sisters of Mercy. Their stories became the foundation for The House Children. In an effort to include everything shared with me, my first draft was double the size of the final publication. All of their experiences seemed meaningful, and I found it difficult to scale back on what I had written. I spent a year working with my editor as she guided me through the process, and helped me keep the focus on my main character.

What was the research process like for this story? Did you have to look into specific things about Ireland and the time era the story takes place?                           
The research was my favorite part of the writing process. I surfed the Internet to find old photos, maps, and weather reports. I also found an extensive government-funded report on industrial schools during the era I was focused on. Reading old newspapers provided me with a sense of the cultural, religious and political climate of that time. I also spent ten days in Ireland going to the sites referenced in my book and met with the Sisters of Mercy, who provided yet another perspective.

What is your favorite book?
That is like asking me what is my favorite ice cream! I do favor chocolate, but I also enjoy trying other flavors. I love to read and I’m not committed to one genre, but I do favor historical fiction. I don’t have a favorite book, but I recently enjoyed reading “Girl In The Blue Coat,” by Monica Hesse.

Are you currently working on another book?
I do have a sequel in mind, if The House Children is well received.

As a debut author, what advice do you have for other writers who are trying to break in?
My best piece of advice is “Love your story.” The road to publication can be extremely difficult, so I feel it is important to enjoy the journey of writing, whether or not you end up getting published. 

No comments :

Post a Comment