Stolen From Her Mother: New novel by Rachel Wesson
A novel which explores the devastating impact of the Magdalene Laundries through the gripping story of an orphan has recently been released by Lucan writer Rachel Wesson.
An accomplished writer with over 30 books to her name and a USA Today Bestseller, Rachel’s love of reading and writing began when she was a child growing up in Beech Grove.
Weekly visits to the local library nurtured her interest in novels, and her enduring passion for history has led her to write many works of historical fiction.
Rachel, who is a past pupil of St Joseph’s College, recently released her latest novel ‘Stolen from her Mother’, a compelling book set between Ireland and America during WWII that tells the story of an Irish orphan.
Now living in Surrey, Rachel told The Echo about how those early library trips shaped her desire to write, why historical fiction is her favourite genre to write, and what she enjoys most about being a writer.
When you were a child, your dad would bring you and your sisters to the library every Saturday to pick out books to borrow. Do you think this shaped your desire to become a writer?
Absolutely. My dad worked away a lot but when he was home, he used to read to us.
Every Saturday, he’d give Mam a break to take us to the library and for ice cream after. He insisted we borrow a ‘good’ book like one of the classics, Blyton/Charles Dickens etc, and one book we wanted to read.
Dad didn’t share my enthusiasm for ‘Sweet Valley High’! But I read ‘A Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and knew that one day I wanted to write books to highlight issues I feel are important.
How does it feel now to see your books on library and bookshop shelves?
I love seeing my books out in the world. I pinch myself when readers send me photos of them reading my stories or standing in a bookstore in New York with a paperback copy of my book in their hand. It’s awesome.
Readers ask me for signed copies and friends tease me about being the first real author they know. To share this with writers whose books I’ve loved is the icing on the cake.
You previously worked in banking and finance in the City of London. Can you remember how it felt to hand in your notice and change careers, and devote yourself to writing full-time?
It was, and still is, a fantastic feeling to not have a boss anymore. I loved my job when I was young and single.
We helped people achieve a better standard of living, ensuring their families were well provided for and it was great.
But then my children came along and the long hours at work clashed with nursery schedules and I was forever chasing time.
Now, I write from home and see my kids as often as they want to see me. Some days I miss the old days – the water cooler gossip, the nights out. But then I think of the sales targets and commuting and realise how lucky I am.
You’ve written over 30 books of historical fiction. What is it about that particular genre that appeals to you?
History was my favourite subject at school. I handed in homework even when the teacher didn’t want it! History repeats itself over and over because we humans don’t learn.
I started off writing about the women in WW2, and the jobs they undertook at a time when women were expected to marry and have children.
These women, regardless of whether they stayed at home and raised families, joined the services, ferried planes, nursed the wounded, were all heroes and their stories were largely untold.
Your latest novel, ‘Stolen from her Mother’, delves into the Magdalene Laundries and the experiences of an orphan. Why was it important to you to cover this in your work?
It was very important. It’s a subject I wanted to write about for a long time.
I’ve known a few adopted children similar in age to me, who refused to search for their birth parents feeling they were abandoned or thrown away. In Ireland, up to the 1980s, this is unlikely to have been the reason.
It is much more likely the mothers lost all rights to their child for committing the ‘sin’ of getting pregnant outside marriage. My late Mam told me stories of some women she knew around the country who had survived these homes.
Both my parents knew people who would have benefited from a more charitable community.
How do you feel about the feedback the book has received so far?
The reviews have been incredible. Even the ones that said my words made their blood boil are good!
Everyone reading the stories of how these women were treated should be moved in one way or another. I am lucky to have one of the best editors in the business, Christina Demosthenous.
She was able to take my scribblings and decipher them into a fabulous book.
What, for you, is the most fulfilling part of being a writer?
Seeing strangers read my stories. I get embarrassed when friends and family read them – don’t ask me why.
But I love to spot someone reading one of my books or have a stranger message me on social media and tell me what my book did for them.
A few ladies have told me their husbands forbid them from reading any more of my books because they make them cry.
I get to do my dream job from the comfort of my home and I will always be grateful to my readers for making it happen.
‘Stolen from her Mother’, published by Bookouture, is out now on Amazon, Apple, Google and Kobo.
For further information, visit www.rachelwesson.com