Aye Write 2019! Sara Sheridan introduces Anne Griffin and Anstey Harris
Friday, 22nd March 2019 Mitchell Library
Review by Mary Irvine
The two authors being introduced were Anne Griffin and Anstey Harris. Both in the fifties, each has recently published her first novel.
Anne Griffin is an Irish novelist living in Ireland. She has won recognition for her previous writings but ‘When All Is Said’ is her debut novel. She describes her hero as a dark character and explained it was on a cycling trip in County Mayo when a chance meeting resulted in the birth of ‘Maurice’.
The format of the novel is based on five ‘toasts’, each glass being raised to a person of importance in the eighty-four year old Maurice. It is through these people that we learn everything about Maurice. It deals with emotional issues and communication generally. It is a reflection of humanity – humour/laughter, anger, and flawed character. When asked about information required to create an authentic background Anne replied it was ‘a mixture of research and knowledge ‘– she is an Irish history graduate. Although the book captures the Irish background Maurice could be anyone’s grand-dad. Anne stated that it had been written for all the men in her life, her uncles and the quiet men at the bars – a dying breed.
Anstey Harris lives in the south east of England. She is also a prize winning author. She told us most of her stories come to her from the sea. She has a beach, where she does most of her writing. This also enables her to run on the beach or walk her dogs. She stressed the importance of writers ‘re-charging their batteries’ and spoke about her own experience at Moniack Mhor.
The heroine of her novel, ‘The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton’, is Grace – said to be a mixture of Lady Macbeth and the Madonna. As ‘the Mistress’ Grace comes second best and Anstey hoped her readers would empathise with her. The theme of the book is trust. Anstey felt the book was optimistic – she is herself an optimist. The action takes place across Europe but mostly in Paris and Cremona. The author has drawn strongly on her own life experiences and knowledge.
Sara Sheridan, a much published author, did an excellent job as interviewer. It was obvious that she had prepared very relevant questions but was not intrusive, allowing the authors to interact. Her final question was ‘What did age/maturity bring to a first novel?’ Both agreed it had a definite bearing. The mature writer was more open to critique and had a life of learning and experience on which to draw. Both writers felt it helped particularly when building character, in understanding of motivation and contemplation of humanity itself.
Mary Irvine, Writer and Philhellene, April, 2019
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