Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jean Reinhardt - author of Irish Family Saga

Morning, commies! 
Today's guest is Jean Reinhardt, a bestselling Irish author specializing in family sagas. Irish history and family sagas are my two weaknesses. Combine the two? I'm there, smacking my lips! Today she joins us to talk about her pet peeves pertaining to Irish stereotypes in literature and the historical Irish-Spanish connection. 
MJN: Some of your book covers feature smiling children in contrast to the bittersweet content of your books (A Pocket Full of Shells and A Year of Broken Promises). Is that contrast deliberate?

JR: It wasn't deliberate for the first book. I used a photograph of my mother and her brother for the cover of A Pocket Full ofShells. They had given me the genealogical records that inspired the book and I have always loved that image of my mother with such a cheeky smile on her face.

My granddaughter posed for the next book and I wanted the cover to convey a sense of innocence and trust, which are compromised in A Year of Broken Promises.
For the third book I used a photo I took of my youngest grandson on a local beach as the tide was on its way in - making it a fitting image for the title, A Turningof the Tide.
I love the guarded look on my other grandson's face in the photograph I used for the fourth book, A Legacy of Secrets, it was just perfect for the title.

I've used an old photograph of my father as a young child, sitting next to his mother for Book 5: A Prodigal Return as this image relates very well to the story line.

MJN: You spent several years in Spain. Historically, Spain and Ireland have been allies on and off, with England being a mutual adversary. The most notable instance that comes to mind is Hugh O'Neil and Rory O'Donnell taking refuge in Spain after the famous Flight of the Earls. Did the people you met while in Spain bring up the question of Spanish-Irish camaraderie?

JR: Some people did remark on the way the Spanish and Irish tend to mix well. I think a lot of this is due to similarities in culture, rather than historical connections. The Spanish laid back way of doing things (or not doing them, lol) is something that Irish people are used to, so it doesn't irritate us to the same extent as it does other nationalities - like the German and Swiss residents in Spain, who are usually very strict timekeepers.

MJN: Tell me a bit about the state of publishing industry in Ireland. I heard that Liberties Press in Dublin has fallen on some hard times. Do you find that publishing independently gives you certain artistic latitude? Clearly, your books are very well received by your readers. 

JR: Irish publishers are beginning to take a chance on new authors because of the international success of writers like Eimear McBride and Donal Ryan, which is great. I think the independent publishers in Ireland are holding their own and thanks to them, we are seeing the work of some very talented new writers being made available. Some of these authors eventually get noticed by the big publishing houses because of the chance given them by smaller publishers. There are also quite a number of women now involved in publishing in Ireland, which is a good thing - of course I'm a little biased, being female.

I really like the freedom of choice that I have as an independently published writer, particularly where cover design and book format are concerned. As most of my sales are directly through Amazon and Createspace, I get a good percentage of the royalties, but this would not be the case if I had to share them with an agent and publisher.

MJN: I ask every Irish author this question. When dealing with American and global audiences, do you find yourself hedging against certain Irish stereotypes and preconceptions? What annoys you about non-Irish authors trying to write Irish themed fiction? As a Russian American, I get annoyed with matryoshka, Kremlin, vodka and balalaika images being slapped on book covers to give them that "air of authenticity", as you, I'm sure, get annoyed when you see covers splattered with shamrocks.

JR: It's the leprechauns that make me cringe but not too many authors add them to their Irish themed fiction covers - thankfully. I also roll my eyes when a character comes out with 'Begorrah' in a book or in a movie - Darby O'Gill and the Little People comes to mind. The impression of a land full of good Catholics and endless cups of tea no longer holds true (well, maybe the tea still does).

MJN: With the recent 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, I'm sure there has been many commemorative events. Unfortunately, I was not able to be in Ireland for this momentous occasion. I really wanted to, but my work and my family obligations did not allow for it. Did the commemorative activities live up to your expectation? 

JR: I think for the most part it did. I was impressed by how well music and art was used in commemorating the Rising. The documentaries were excellent, too. One thing that stood out for me was the way in which the public at the time were affected, in particular the deaths of 40 children, something I'm sad to say I wasn't aware of until this centenary anniversary.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your lovely blog, Marina. You asked me some very interesting questions and it was a pleasure to answer them.