Welcoming Theresa to So Many Books, So Little Time, credit to Aldo Ferrarello for the featured photograph.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit. Let’s chat about Penance.
You have already written a book however this is your first venture into fiction, what inspired the book?
I’d always had the kernel of an idea for a book based around a religious thriller. My Dad used to tell me a ghost story of a priest dying on the altar and his ghost coming back to finish mass – I thought that would make a great book…. Then one day I was researching the Magdalene Institutions for a possible radio feature and discovered that there had been a Magdalene in Glasgow and it closed in 1958 following a 3 day riot. The girls were protesting against the abusive treatment they had to endure. I saw newspaper archives and one picture in particular of a young girl trying to make her escape. It struck a chord with me and I thought ‘that institution had been in Glasgow for over 100 years – what made the girls stand up and say enough is enough?’ - and I wondered what happened to them afterwards…I started jotting down notes and before I knew it had the outline of a story which I combined with the death of a priest on the altar…and voila Penance was born.
Some of the scenes back to the 50s is quite barbaric and horrifying, did you get information from your research or was that your creative side?
I did a lot of research about the treatment of women in institutions – not just the M.I. I looked at transcripts of interviews and documents from the time. But at the end of the day Penance is a work of fiction so I used poetic licence and amalgamated the information with my imagination and told the story of one woman’s struggle.
How much research did you find yourself having to undertake?
As I said above – I did a lot of research into the treatment of women at the time. Also the book is mainly set in present day Glasgow and the main character Oonagh O’Neil is a journalist – that bit was easy as I worked as a journalist at the time and I was lucky enough to have a couple of friendly coppers to call upon to ensure my police characters were realistic. One of the best advice I’ve been given regarding research is from Denise Mina – do your research then set it aside. Never forget you’re telling story. In other words don’t get too bogged down with detail.
I have lived here all of my life and never heard of the institution, how did you come to hear about it?
I always knew about the Magdalene’s – it was just part of my upbringing but I didn’t know there had been one in Glasgow until I started researching it for a radio item.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a follow up to Penance which I hope will be out sometime in 2017.
Do you see a series for Oona?
Well – Ooonagh is in the follow up and I think she’ll be in one more book before giving her a wee rest.
Where can fans find you?
Usually in the pub! But if you don’t want to buy me a drink then find me on www.theresatlabot.com or get me on the twitter-phone @theresa_talbot
Anything else you want to chat about I may have missed?
I rescue chickens…but that’s a whole different story – I also was a comedy writer for a short time…clearly I was the only one who found me funny or I’d still be doing it!
Great Q&A Theresa and thanks again for stopping by, sorry the interview has gone up a wee bit later than originally scheduled. And we have one signed paperback copy to giveaway. Due to rising postage costs this one will be to UK entrants only guys, sorry. As always, use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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