Rose Doyle

Life
b. Dublin; author of 18 novels [in 2018]; Fate and Tomorrow (London: Stoddard & Houghton 2002);Fate and Tomorrow (2002), in which Nessa O’Grady marries a brutal man who takes her to Africa where she meets married-man David Addison, becomes pregnant, and sets out for America with him on the Titanic [Books Ireland, Sept. 2003]; writes radio plays; also an The Irish Times journalist on the property page and elsewhere.

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Works
  • Images (Swords: Poolbeg Press 1993), [10], 382pp.;
  • Tarantula! (Swords: Children’s Poolbeg Press 1992), 94pp.;
  • Goodbye, Summer, Goodbye [Bright Sparks Ser.] (Dublin: Attic Press 1994), 139pp.;
  • The Invisible Monk (Dublin: Children’s Poolbeg Press 1994), 134pp.;
  • Kimbay (London: Macmillan 1995), 345pp.;
  • Alva (Dublin: Town House/Country House 1996), vii, 422pp;
  • Perfectly Natural (Dublin: Town House 1997), [8], 454pp.;
  • The Shadow Player (Dublin: Town House 1999), [6], 341pp;
  • In Secret Sin (Dublin: Town House 2000), [10], 246pp. [see review];
  • Fate and Tomorrow (London: Hodder & Stoughton 2002), 404pp.;
  • Friends Indeed (London: Coronet 2002), viii, 472pp.;
  • The Story of Joe Brown (Dublin: New Island 2004),82pp. [see note];
  • Shadows Will Fall (London: Hodder & Stoughton 2004), 282pp.
  • Heroes of Jadotville (Dublin: New Island Books 2006), 416pp.
Miscellaneous
  • ed., Christmas Treasury for Children (Dublin: Marino Press 1995), 160pp.;
  • ed., Letters from Irish College (Dublin: Marino Press 1996), 127pp.
 

See also review of Eugene McEldowney, Stella’s Story (2002) - as infra.


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Commentary
Arminta Wallace, review of In Secret Sin, in The Irish Times (26 Aug. 2000): ‘There are two hurdles of disbelief that readers of Rose Doyle’s sixth novel must cross. First, that a recently-widowed Irishwoman left financially secure in a comfortable Dublin suburb with two successful grown-up kids would bother to up sticks and head for the US to seek out her dead husband’s estranged family - out of simple curiosity. And second, that Seattle is a more dismal setting for a work of fiction than any small town in Ireland could ever be, even on a wet Friday in February. Doyle convinces us effortlessly of the latter, in a series of dripping snapshots of low cloud over Puget Sound; and this claustrophobic family saga ticks tidily along to an atmospheric, explosive and extremely messy conclusion on the city’s dilapidated waterfront. In Secret Sin is a grittier book by far than Doyle’s previous outings, and there are few laughs and precious little romance as Bridget Baldacci rummages in the gruesome dirty laundry of her husband’s dreadful family, but at the end this reader, for one, was still looking doubtfully at that first hurdle.’ (Available online; accessesd 04.09.2018).

Quotations
How to Write a Novel ...

Author Rose Doyle faciliated one of the first Inkwell Workshops was back in 2006 and told participants about the 10 step plan she uses to start every book, (and she’s written 18, so she knows what she’s talking about!) As she says, there are many similar versions of this plan, used by authors all over the world, but this is the one that works for her, and the plan that has been passed on to many Inkwell Writers ever since ...

Work through the following ten points over ten days and you will have the bones of your novel.

Day 1: Write one sentence summarising what the book is about.
Day 2: Jot down the characteristics/name/age and relationships of your major characters and repeat for the minor characters.
Day 3: Note the location and settings that will feature in your novel.
Day 4: Define your character’s goals – set up the plot and create tension.
Every character needs something hard to get.
Day 5: List the obstacles that prevent the main characters from what they want. These could be psychological, physical or emotional.
Day 6: Plan the conclusion – make up the ending. Write a paragraph and put it over your desk. You have now finished the book, so the goal is achievable.
Day 7: Create a brief outline of the plot.
Day 8: Make a list of chapter headings – each chapter should contain one major event or a linking chapter.
Day 9: Set up hard copy files for each character and location.
Day 10: Write the opening paragraph.

Available at Writing.ie - online; accessed 04.09.2018.

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Caoimhe Fox, interviewing Rose Doyle (Books Ireland)

Were you always a “writer” or was it something you discovered later in life?
RD: I have been writing for a lifetime. I think that most writers you talk to will tell you this, that it was one of the things they did as children. I was always, always, writing something. The first thing I had published was a review of children’s books in The Irish Times. Then I got lots of bizarre jobs, like an agony aunt in a weekend newspaper. The first piece of fiction I got published was an hour-long radio play. This inspired me to go on and write a children’s book.

Was there a particular moment when you felt you had become a “proper” writer?
When does one become a writer? I think the answer to that is when you start getting paid for it. It shifts you from just being a person who expresses yourself through writing to someone for whom it is a profession, and it progresses from there. When I first started earning my living from writing, I knew then that it was something that was always going to be a huge part of my life.

You have written both adult and children’s fiction. Do you have a preference for either genre?
I haven’t been in the world of children for several years. I prefer writing for adults, but I want to write a stage play more than anything else. I like the spareness of a play. You have to show, not tell. You have to pare back and give everything in words and actions. I like the challenge of that.

You have won both the Hennessy Short Story Award and the Bistro Children’s fiction award. Do you find that such recognition motivates and validates you as a writer?
RD: I didn’t actually apply for either award. But when I found out, it was a great surprise and certainly very cheering! At the same time, I am very aware that there are many people doing really good stuff who don’t get enough recognition. It’s hard sometimes to keep going and believing in yourself. I was really lucky getting published early. Once you are published, sadly, nowadays you have to quickly click with the “collective consciousness” and the latest trend in publishing. Or else be so f—ing brilliant that you sell anyway!

Do you have a fixed idea in your head before you start writing or does the story develop organically?
I always have an idea that I want to develop but it grows organically when I get started. I do a lot beforehand: working out characters, place, location, plot line, and putting it all down over several weeks. For the last few books I have done far too much research; I”m trying to cut back on that.
 When you first sit down and start writing, you have it marshalled, but ideas grow, no matter how you try to control them. You know your story and your people, and so feel confident enough to let the organic growth happen, knowing that you can bring it back to the story line. You literally can’t “lose the plot” if you know the plot. I believe that you can be more creative with boundaries than if it’s all over the place. You can have 25 pots of paints and 80 canvases, but if you have only one small canvas and three pots of paint and are confined it explodes. The tension created by having boundaries to push against is a creative force in itself. That’s what a plot line is for me.

What would you say are the main challenges of being a full-time writer? RD:
Money! Getting paid and getting published. You also have to remove yourself from the society of friends and company a lot of the time. Your habits become very bad; you start drinking too much coffee and eating too many carbohydrates; getting lazy and all the rest. But despite all of that, you feel great, because this idea is bursting within you. You just have to keep writing. The more you do it, the better you become.

For a writer starting out, what would be your top tips for success? RD:
Firstly, there is no “Golden Typewriter”, no perfect laptop, perfect day or right moment. You sit down and you write this very minute. Start now. Set your own time limits. Be strict with yourself. There is no point saying that you have the rest of your life to write the book. You don’t.Sometimes you get paid for it, and that’s alright too!

Following a successful debut, many Irish authors move to UK publishers or beyond. Do you think that this is a necessary move if they want to succeed? RD:
I did it myself. It used to be that Irish publishers didn’t sell on. Years ago they had very small success in selling foreign rights. But that has improved drastically. You can now go with one of the bigger Irish publishers, or even smaller ones, who can sell on the rights and have agents in New York and beyond. I think that nowadays Irish publishers can do everything that UK/USA publishers can do. Some Irish publishers aren’t as aggressive as they need to be, but they are going to have to be.

Is the Irish industry strong enough to sustain new Irish voices, or are we just too many fish in a small pond?
Publishing has had a terribly hard time since the advent of e-books. When the Net Book Agreement was broken, and books went into the supermarkets, it changed the landscape of the publishing world. Bookshops had to bring down their prices and all sorts of things. And then came e-publishing on the heels of that. But publishing is full of wonderful characters and people who believe in books. It hasn’t been as quick to change as other industries, which is in its favour, I think.

Do you feel that self-publishing and e-publishing will be a positive thing for new writers?
I do think that good writing and talent will always emerge. A year ago, I would have been very uncertain about self-publishing, but now I know a couple of people who tried it and got picked up afterwards. If that’s the way to get it out, why not? It also helps to keep publishers on their toes.

From your experience, is an agent an essential part of the process for getting your book out there?
I would recommend taking an agent. It’s almost a prerequisite. Most publishers won’t read your book unless it comes via an agent. It’s worth paying the money. Plus they know their way around the place; if they say a book’s good, a publisher will listen to them.

Nowadays an author is expected to produce a book a year. What kind of impact does this have on the writing process? Should writers be pushing back on tight time-lines for the sake of quality?
They should definitely push back or it becomes about producing a product and not a book. Then they wonder why people are disappointed with a second book or why a third one doesn’t sell. If writers are pushed and pushed, it isn’t going to be their best work. Publishers are shooting themselves in the foot really. Some people can only write well under pressure, but there is pressure and then pressure. It’s not like churning out a pound of butter!

You wrote the foreword for the recent reissue of the late Theodora FitzGibbon’s autobiography A Taste of Love; have you any other projects in the pipeline?
I”m full of projects! I”ve had a hiatus of several years but I have lots of ideas now. I recently started writing a historical novel about an American woman who came and worked in Ireland during the Famine. I had all the research done and a first draft and then I thought to myself, why am I always writing worthy historical novels? I”ve always wanted to write a crime novel, so that’s what I”m doing now!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?
A painter: that’s what I really would have liked to have been. But I just wasn’t that good! Also, I found I could make a living out of writing, which is much harder to do as a painter.

And finally, when your book is finished, where do you send it next?
Normally I would have a contract before I started a book, and when finished it would typically go to an agent.

Available at Books Ireland [online exclusive]- online; accessed 04.08.2018.

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Notes
The Story of Joe Brown (2004): A lodger's dark past comes back to haunt him. Nothing remarkable about Joe Brown. He is of average height, and he wears average clothes. His average looks are hidden behind a beard. But Joe Brown has a secret, and a past, that he wants to forget. He might have managed it too. He might have moved on to a new life, if he hadn't answered an ad for a room to rent. His chances would have been good if the beautiful Julia Ryan hadn't taken him. But she became his landlord, and in no time Joe Brown's past, and his secret, catch up with him. This time there will be no forgetting. (Notice in Fantasticfiction - online; accessed 04.08.2018).

Listed in Amazon: Perfectly Natural; Shadows Will Fall; In Secret Sin; Kimbay; Friends Indeed; Gambling with Darkness; The Story of Joe Brown; Heroes of Jadotville. {Sept. 2018]. Note that Google gives b.1945.