We’re very excited to bring you an interview with Jodi McIsaac about her latest release, Bury The Living. But first, here’s what it’s about!Bury The Living by Jodi McIsaac
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by 47 NORTH on September 6, 2016
Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.
When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. Here she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.
Describe BURY THE LIVING in 5 words.
Ireland. Civil War. Time travel.
How did BURY THE LIVING come about, what was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
My first series, The Thin Veil, is based on Irish mythology. While researching those books I couldn’t help but learn more about Irish history, and I was completely drawn in. The more I read, the more I wanted to write about it, but I couldn’t nail down a particular time period. And so I decided to write a time travel series so that I wouldn’t be limited to just one era. At first I planned to start the series with the Easter Rising of 1916, but then I saw the heartbreaking film The Wind that Shakes the Barley and was so moved that I decided to focus on the Irish Civil War instead. The more I dug into it, the deeper I wanted to do. I wanted to tell the stories of these people and make them come alive. Besides, the Civil War is a perfect launching pad for a time travel series because it has its roots in the centuries-old conquest of Ireland by England, but also reaches into the future as the instigation behind the modern-day Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Nora’s background growing up in Belfast during the Troubles was inspired by my own experiences living in Belfast just after the Omagh bombing. I was in my early twenties at the time and so naïve about the political context around me, so I wanted to do more research on the Troubles and how it might have impacted those who were children and teenagers during the violence. Nora’s story of getting picked up by the Provos and being accused of selling drugs actually happened to a friend of mine (although my friend was innocent and Nora … well, I’ll let you read it!).
BURY THE LIVING falls under a few different genres, historical, fantasy and romance being at the forefront, but what was your favorite aspect of this story to delve into and work into the story?
The historical aspect was definitely my favorite. I’ve always been thrilled by historical fiction as a reader, but incredibly daunted by it as an author. I assumed it must take an enormous amount of work to pull off a good historical novel – and I was right! But once I dove in I was surprised at how much I loved the research, everything from the broad strokes to the tiniest details like the cost of a pint in 1923 or how prisoners heated water for tea in the cells of Kilmainham Gaol. I became completely immersed in this time period—watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, traveling to Ireland to do on-the-ground research, talking to scholars and experts, and of course reading as many books as I could get my hands on. I learned so much, and it was such a complete joy to be able to bring this period of history to life on the page.
What are you currently reading?
I have a couple of research books on the go for my current work-in-progress: Irish Kings and High-Kings by F.J. Byrne, and Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf by Sean Duffy. I’m also reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and the most recent issue of Wired magazine. I’m a bit of a non-fiction junkie. For pleasure, I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because it’s like comfort food.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up! The publishing industry can be unpredictable and sometimes heartbreaking. Keep writing. Keep making art. Don’t give up.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
Summon the Queen, the sequel to Bury the Living, is finished and already available for pre-order, so right now I’m working on the third book in the series. This one is set in 1002 during the reign of High King Brian Boru. I’m also laying the groundwork for a middle grade novel based on Irish mythology (much to the delight of my two middle-grade daughters).