My Father's House, an arresting debut novel from Bethany Dawson is being launched tonight (10.04.13) at 7.30pm in the Ulster Museum, Belfast and you are all very welcome!
"I bumped into one of my primary school
teachers this week. He was quite terrifying to my 11-year-old self but he also
loved literature and spent many an afternoon reading to our class with all of
the accents and enthusiasm that brought a story to life. I was able to tell him
how fondly I remembered those story times and how the characters that Michael
Morpurgo and Penelope Lively wrote lived on in my memory. He was thrilled to
hear that I had become a writer, although when he asked whether I had written a
‘bodice-ripper’ I wasn’t sure how to respond.
The new worlds to which I was introduced
through books like The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, King of the Cloud
Forest, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe and many more, filled me with wonder and
fuelled my imagination. I became chief storyteller to my younger siblings and
began writing my own adventurous tales in my blue jotter. As a teenager, the
only subject I excelled in was English. I was a keen reader, I loved analysing
poetry and I took every opportunity to write.
Although the stories I write now are less
adventurous and more focused on character than plot, I have found that living
an adventurous life feeds my creativity and takes hold of my imagination. Henry
Thoreau said, ‘How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up
to live’. For me, this is the challenge of a writing life.
I did not know that choosing to rent an old
farmhouse in our first year of marriage would have such an influence on my
writing. As I developed the characters in My Father’s House the farm on which
I lived became an essential backdrop for the story and the house became
symbolic of the themes I wanted to explore. It was not until years later when I
was living far away from rural County Down in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
that all of the components of my novel came together. The things I remembered
from my days spent chasing sheep up the road in my pyjamas and trying to stop
our pigs from attacking the dog infused the story with believable detail and my
characters were quite at home in that setting.
My ex-teacher asked me whether I had plans
to write another book. I told him that writing was the only thing I ever wanted
to do and I had characters clamouring to be put on paper. When reflecting on
the places I have lived over the last couple of years, I am excited to see how
my next novel develops."
Bethany Dawson completed a Master of Philosophy in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin where she was picked up by her agent and began writing in earnest. She works as the Assistant Editor of The Zimbabwean, an independent newspaper produced in the UK. Bethany currently lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland with her husband and son, but has spent time living in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. This is her first novel.