Tell us what Dancing to an Irish Reel is about, Claire.
Dancing to an Irish Reel is literary fiction set on the western coast of Ireland. Hailey Crossan is a twenty-five year old American, who leaves the record business in Los Angeles and takes a trip to Galway, where she is offered a job too good to turn down. Hailey works at the Galway Music Center and is surrounded by a group of friends that help her navigate the nuances of Irish culture. When an Irish traditional musician named Liam Hennessey meets Hailey, he is so unbalanced by the prospect of love that their relationship feels like a dance to Hailey, for Liam won’t come closer nor go away. Hailey comes to understand the subtleties of new love and realizes Ireland has more charm and character than any place she could have ever imagined.
The plot sounds rich with Irish ethos. Did you have the book planned out before you wrote it? Did anything unexpected happen while writing it?
I had the story outlined with its beginning, middle and end. I planned to reveal the character through dialogue, and wrote a list of Irish expressions and turns of phrases that I found particularly wonderful. What came to me unexpectedly were the descriptions of rural Ireland and some of the characters I wrote that seemed to me symbolic. Once I started writing about the people and settings, the chapters took on a life of their own because I had so much I wanted to share.
Did you find anything challenging about writing your book?
Nothing about this book came as a challenge, for I once lived in rural Ireland and really wanted to depict its soulful magic. It seemed to me there are many books out there that are rather campy with their handling of Ireland. I wanted to write the opposite, to say that the Irish culture is authentic and unique, and this is because of its people. But the story of the unpredictability of new love in Dancing to an Irish Reel could have happened anywhere. There is always such hope and excitement in the throes of attraction, but there is also a bit of doubt and fear. But because this story takes place in Ireland, it gave me the change to sing about a culture worthy of deep praise.
It sounds like you really love Ireland. Do you have a specific writing style or process that you prefer?
I am told I am a lyrical writer, and I do love the art of word arrangement. I also like to write in the first person for the exact reasons I like to read the same. There is an intimacy and connection afforded in the first person that I think adds to the experience. I like to make the reader know to whom they are listening to, and for this to happen, an honesty much be employed!
Who designed your cover? It’s dreamy.
Elaine Lee of By the Muse Design. Vinspire Publishing is my publisher, and they hired this incredible artist, who asked me to describe my vision for the cover and send her some sample chapters so that she could get a feel for my voice.
Are you working on anything else?
I am currently going over my third novel line-by-line. It is a Southern family saga set in 1970’s and 80’s Memphis, Tennessee. The book is finished, but as we all know, writing is re-writing, so I am taking my time.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Anne Rivers Siddons “Peachtree Road.” It is a masterpiece! I have another Siddons book on deck called “Outter Banks.”.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my lovely readers?
I entered Southern Writers Magazine’s short story contest and am a runner up. It will be published in Southern Writer’s Magazine November issue.
Congratulations and thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to read your book. I love Irish culture!
If you haven’t read Claire’s book, you can purchase Dancing to an Irish Reel through these retailers: