Who needs chocolates and flowers when you can spend an arbitrary date in February curled up with a beautiful book?! So for all you sleepy-heads who missed reading The Story Collector the first time around, you have one week to download it for just 99p!
‘Told with all the warmth and charm of a fairytale’
The Irish Times
‘This is the kind of book to lose yourself in’
Nudge Books Literary Magazine
But what’s it all about? Who is the story collector and why is this butterfly-adorned book breaking hearts? Well, I’ve always believed that word of mouth is the best way to spread the love for a book, so I’ve decided to use the words of my wonderful readers to make a story collector word cloud!
If you can find a few words in there that speak to you, then click on the portal below for your chance to escape into a world of wild beauty, dark creatures and true love.
If you have managed to miss the exciting news that The Story Collector was reviewed in The Irish Times last weekend, then well done to you because I have been telling everyone I know and many people I don’t! To celebrate, The Story Collector is available to download for 99p all weekend on Amazon and if you fancy bagging yourself a signed copy, check out my Twitter page for a chance to win.
THE STORY COLLECTOR is a darkly magical 99p on Amazon!
What’s that? You’d like to see the review? Well, I mean if you really think it’s necessary, I suppose I could see if I have a copy somewhere…
Honestly, this is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I remember years ago, my sister saying “oh you should be writing for the Irish Times”. She may as well have said, you should write your novels from space. It seemed so far-fetched. Even now it feels surreal. I keep wondering, how did this happen? I think a lot of writers tend to overlook the years of hard slog when something amazing suddenly happens, as if it has nothing to do with us. Also it feels a bit indulgent and most of us have been taught not to indulge in our own success. Irish people are renowned for being utterly crap at taking compliments and we are brought sharply back down to earth if we even show signs of having ‘notions’. But when your peers tell you that your achievements are ‘well deserved’, maybe it’s okay to take a moment and say, ‘I did it!’ So sod it, my book is in the Irish bleedin’ Times and I’m flippin’ delighted!!
I read somewhere that you don’t become a writer; you discover you are one, and I suppose that’s what happened to me.
People always talk about their love of books as a child, but I also had a love of stories and storytelling. So much so, that I often made up my own and told them – seanchaí style – to anyone who would listen! My goal was to entertain and storytelling became my party piece. But when it came to reading, well, books were my medicine.
I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital as a child and people would always bring me books, mostly fairytales. I would read voraciously when stuck in bed. The Grimm brothers helped me escape from the confines of a hospital ward, along with Johnathan Swift whose crazy stories of magical lands and strange wonders opened up a whole new world for me. Later, my older sister’s Edgar Allen Poe collection saw me through countless infections and fascinated me with his gothic tales. Yet, as soon as my health improved, I would abandon my books for the outside world, making up for lost time. I was a fair-weather friend to books, but they were still there waiting for me, whenever life got hard.
It wasn’t until much later that I even dared to think of writing a book. Again, it was one of those ‘stuck’ moments in life and I needed a new story to help me find a way out. I rediscovered the library, my love of books and an escape route. I’m not sure at what point I decided, ‘Hey, I could write one of these!’ but I certainly remember the moment when I realised it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I felt like a fool for even trying. I wasn’t a writer! It was a silly dream. And so I buried my first attempt deep in my hard drive and tried to forget about that part of myself. I kept reading though – if I couldn’t be a writer, I was going to be a reader.
It worked, for a while, but it was like I’d been bitten by a bug (a not very talented, but persistent bug!) and before I knew it, I was writing another novel. I submitted it to ONE publisher before I even finished it and they requested the full manuscript. I couldn’t believe it. “It’s happening!” I thought to myself, “It’s really happening!” Then came the rejection letter – which wasn’t surprising, seeing as I had submitted just 50k words of a first draft. The editor said that, while it was well written, the story wasn’t strong enough. Well, if that’s not an excuse to wallow in self-pity for a good two years, I don’t know what is! But I kept reading, exploring new genres and different voices.
So yet again, I had pushed aside this crazy dream and told myself I’d have more chance of winning the lottery.
I think it’s a rite of passage for writers, this tug of war between heart and mind. You try to talk yourself out of it; acutely aware of how irrational this longing is. Everyone tells you there’s no money it, you’ll never get published and besides, the novel is dead! But you keep climbing into your ivory tower anyway, because you simply have to tell your story. Even if no-one listens, you have to tell it because if you don’t, no-one else will.
So when do you really start feeling like a writer? I can’t say. It’s an unusual process; you spend all this time wondering when you will become a ‘real writer’, but just like the Velveteen Rabbit, the realness happens without you noticing it. You work away, writing stories, writing articles, submitting manuscripts, waiting endlessly and then one day you look around you and realise, I am a real writer! It’s happened. I think seeing my photo in the Irish Times with the caption Evie Gaughan, Author was what really clenched it! I mean, who am I to argue with the Irish Times!!
And then came the greatest endorsement that all writers hope for, dream of, but never really believe will happen. Yet just like love, it happens when you least expect it and have almost given up on it. In a happy twist of luck and happenstance, fellow writer Thomas Hocknell (The Life Assistance Agency) pointed me in the direction of Urbane Publications, and I found my perfect fit. I submitted my manuscript and on Saint Patrick’s Day, merry with wine, I received the email I’d been waiting for – “We’d like to publish your book”. It was really happening.
It IS really happening.
Even now, in the midst of my third book launch, I think there’s a part of me that still can’t accept that this is real, that it’s really happening. People ask me how I feel and I’m sure I reply with something coherent, but really it’s a jumble of feelings and impossible to put into words (ironically!). I’m just trying to do the work and give this book the best launch that I can. Another surreal moment has been the endorsement of one of my favourite authors, Niamh Boyce (Her Kind). Having her words on my cover, praising my story, is something (again) I could only have dreamed of. Another welcome surprise to me is how generous and supportive authors are of each other – something I hope to pay forward.
But it’s probably the same for most authors, a lot of the time you just can’t see the wood for the trees. There are lots of hidden moments; a contract to be signed but you can’t talk about it, a new cover that you can’t reveal yet, a new story you don’t want to jinx, so you keep it to yourself. And so you never really know when to celebrate and when things finally do start happening, you’re already in promotion mode. So maybe it will be another few months before all of this sinks in and I can give myself a congratulatory pat on the back. And a holiday! Or sit down in a quiet, still place and let myself feel this in my bones, remember what it was like when I started out and see how far I’ve come. Till then, thanks to everyone who has supported me, my squad, my tribe 🙂 It would be a far lonelier journey without you x
The Story Collector is available to purchase here –
So it turns out that other people have also written books over the last couple of years – imagine that! So instead of dropping not-so-subtle hints about my own book, I thought I’d take a breather and recommend some lovely books I’ve read so far this year.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock was always going to be top of the list! If you know me at all, you can see why…. Historical fiction, a long-winded title and MERMAIDS!!! Nuff said. But was this book all fur coat and no knickers?
Poldark meets Moulin Rouge!
I wasn’t one bit surprised to learn, while reading this book, that it had been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize, because it has everything you want in a book – originality, personality and mermaids!
I hardly even read the blurb – I was already hooked by THAT cover and the intriguing title, so it was a pleasure to find that what lies within does not disappoint. Wonderfully written with characters that stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is like historical fiction with a generous sprinkling of Baz Luhrmann theatrics!
A truly wondrous book, full of excess and greed, grace and humanity. The author does a fantastic job of representing women who, born into a patriarchal society where property and wealth are always something to be attained through trickery but never to be owned, are forced to live by their wits. Yet there is no moral judgement here, which allows the reader to completely immerse themselves in the lives of these characters and feel forever changed by them.
I loved spending time in Imogen Hermes Gowar’s world, as she deftly weaves myth and magic into the harsh realities of 18th century life, and I would highly recommend a visit.
Okay so I arrived a little late to this party, but The Essex Serpent was so much more than I expected. Again, I was caught by the lush cover, the hint of something otherworldly afoot, and yet again, I was not disappointed.
“They sharpen themselves on each other; each by turn is blade and whetstone”
Seriously, do yourself a favour and read this book. Masterful, elegant, authentic, quite funny and keenly observed – a study of feminism, religion and society in the 1800’s – this book is the epitome of soul-satisfying literature. There. If you don’t read it now, there’s no hope for you.
Just finished The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde, a dual-timeline novel (my fav!) that has all the charm of 50’s England and the unbreakable bond of sisters.
I already have one amazing sister, but this novel made me greedy for more! Eve Chase has captured the nature of sibling relationships perfectly in this gorgeous novel about one hot summer that leaves an indelible mark on the Wildling sisters. If you like old country houses with hidden secrets, set against a modern family coming to terms with their own problems, then this book is for you. Absorbing and charming, a perfect summer read.
Highly recommend these books and if you’re thinking, ‘hey, these are totally my cup of tea and if these are the books Evie enjoys, I wonder if her new book would appeal to me too?’ I couldn’t possibly be so brash as to answer that question. But probably, yes.
So I’ll just leave this here…
Early reviews for THE STORY COLLECTOR say ‘Simply magical’, ‘Captivating’ and‘Heartily recommended’.
What started out as a hypnotherapy session with the ‘dreadlocks guy’ from the local five-a-side football team, quickly turned into so much more…
It’s not your typical ‘meet cute’, but this is how my debut novel, The Heirloom, starts out. Set in my hometown of Galway, it follows the story of Amanda, a young woman whose cynical outlook on life has her stuck in a job she is neither qualified for nor interested in and in a relationship which is entirely conducted in hotel rooms. With a married man. With two kids.
Xavier, an unemployed philologist (yes, philologist), finds himself literally drifting on the ocean as an impromptu member of a global yacht race. Destiny brings him ashore on the West Coast of Ireland and straight into the path of Amanda, whose dreams of drowning are becoming unnervingly real.
What ensues is a story of contemporary love, historical mysteries and the struggle to find one’s true path in life.
The Heirloom opens with lines from a poem by Lucian Blaga:-
They say that ancestors, dead before their time,
with young blood still in their veins,
with great passion in their blood,
with the sun still burning in their blood
come to continue to live
their unfinished lives.
These lines hold the seed of the entire novel… is it possible that we carry within us, a soul from another time? I’ve often wondered why I have such an affinity with things or places, even languages I’ve never spoken. Where does that desire come from? Or that feeling of arriving home when you visit a place you’ve never been? Are we holding onto fears and maybe even love, from another life? And what if those memories could be accessed through a talisman, or an heirloom…
I loved telling this story. Juxtaposing the historical aspects alongside a contemporary narrative was a challenge I relished and I loved exploring the idea of finding tangible connections with the past. If you like authors like Kate Mosse, Rachel Hore, Diana Gabaldon or Kate Morton, with a healthy portion of Irish wit thrown in, this book is for you!
I feel so fortunate that this book is having something of a second wind in the Amazon charts and just goes to show, people can discover your book at any time. The Heirloom might just achieve immortality yet!
Up until this week, my novel was a manuscript bound by little more than hope and a dream. But now, The Story Collector has been enveloped by a design that I have to say, I love! So without further ado, here it is…
I am not exaggerating when I say my publisher (Urbane Publications) was AMAZING during this process. Sooo open trying new ideas and making sure everyone was happy with the design. This was beyond what I had expected and I just knew when I saw this cover, it was the one. It was love at first sight!
But more importantly, it is the perfect introduction to the story. It has a dreamlike quality that sets the tone for what is to follow. In fact, that has been the overwhelming feedback I’ve received so far – that it draws you in, which is exactly what a cover should do. So, what am I drawing you in TO? Well you may ask! Set in Ireland and wrapped in folklore, this book is very dear to my heart… but don’t take my word for it, read the blurb.
A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.
Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.
But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..
Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.
The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.
So there you have it folks, after months (nigh, years!) of banging on about this book, I can finally say that publication is imminent! 14th June to be precise, but for the impatient ones of the bunch, here is a link to pre-order a paperback version right this very minute on Amazon.
I have been so lucky to meet some fantastic and supportive writers and readers since my last publication and I just want to say thanks for all the shares and for helping me to spread the word. I hope I’ve played my part in this process too, writing reviews, sharing links or just being a cheerleader when someone’s having a wobble. It takes a village to make a book, so I guess that makes you the village people 😀
‘Tis almost the season to start thinking about giving and to celebrate the launch of the new paperback version of The Heirloom, I am giving away 3 signed copies over on Goodreads. This is open to residents in Ireland only this time, just so I can make the Christmas post!
But the giving doesn’t stop there. If you like your books a little more on the electronic side, I’m also running a Kindle Countdown Sale for the princely sum of 99p. I’ve even gone to the trouble of creating this lovely graphic with all the deets!
Haunted in her dreams by a past she cannot remember, Amanda Morrison avoids close relationships, sentimentalism and above all, any notion of fate or destiny. That is, until she receives a strange heirloom from a long lost aunt that sets her on a journey to find her true self… in another life.
“Overall, this book has a little bit of everything; an epic romance, adventure, great locations, well researched historical fiction… The mixture of the two stories leads to a snappy, well paced story that kept me excited and invested in the plot.”
I enjoy a challenge. And if I can do it sitting down, all the better. Cue my obsession with reading and writing dual timelines. The marmite of the literary world, dual timelines can either thrill or annoy a reader and as a writer of the genre, I’ve found myself oscillating between both emotions on more than one occasion! (Often at the same time, but that’s duality for you).
First things first: What is the difference between dual timelines, time-slip and time travelling? Like branches on a family tree, they all bear a close resemblance, but have their own individualistic quirks that mean Sunday dinner will always be a tricky affair. Dual timelines do exactly what they say on the tin; there is a story with roots in the past that affect the present, so both stories are told side by side. A good example is Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, where a famous writer tells her life-story to a biographer. Time-slip tends to involve a twist of the paranormal, where a character has flashes of a past life or in the case of Susanna Kearsley’s novel, The Firebird, the protagonist has a kind of psychic ability that means she can sense stories from the past merely by touching an object. Time-travelling hardly requires any explanation, but I’ll just say Outlander and leave it at that!
My first introduction to this genre was when I read Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (who, it turns out, is not a supermodel but a highly successful author). Instantly, I knew that this was my kind of book. It had mystery, intrigue and… shut the front door – two parallel stories in different time periods! It felt like I was getting two books for the price of one – a bargain. As a writer, ‘time-slip’ opened up a whole new world of story-telling to me. It’s such a dynamic genre, allowing you to trace the influence of the past on the future, creating layers to draw the reader in. But how do you go about writing what are essentially two separate stories and deftly weaving them together?
The most obvious feature of a dual timeline novel is the parallel narrative that runs throughout the book. It’s vital that the narrative is equally engaging for both the contemporary and historical sections of the book, otherwise you risk losing the reader’s interest for large portions of the book. While both stories are connected, they must have enough appeal in their own right to engage the reader. When writing my debut novel The Heirloom, the most important aspect for me was providing each section with its own unique ‘voice’ in order to convince the reader that they are really moving from one time period to another. The whole atmosphere of the story changes – the dialogue used in 16thCentury Ireland is very different to that of the present day, so it can be a challenge, almost like writing two completely different novels at once.
The next feature of time-slip writing is research. Historical fiction is a genre that requires meticulous researching and the dual timeline genre is no different. The setting for my first novel was medieval Ireland, 1588 to be precise, when the Spanish Armada wrecked upon our rocky shores in one of the deadliest storms ever recorded. I probably spent the best part of a year researching 16th Century Europe and the battle of the Armada against the Royal Navy. I also had to research life in Ireland at that time, which was under foreign rule but, especially in the West, remained quite independent in their laws and culture. Everything from what they ate, what they wore and what they believed in (Brehon Law still existed at that time) was crucial to create a realistic picture. I didn’t just stick to books and websites; I watched movies set in and around that time, documentaries and visited museums. You simply cannot know enough about your setting, which brings me nicely on to my next point.
Try not to force-feed the facts to your reader – they will not appreciate it! It can be so tempting, after months of researching your subject, to thrill (or bore!) your readers with every minute detail you picked up along the way. But you have to know when enough is enough. It’s important for you to know the background to the story, but the reader doesn’t need a history lecture, so you have to find a way to weave the facts into the story and keep the reader entertained as well as informed. The time-slip genre does tend to have some paranormal plot devices which require the reader to suspend belief to a certain degree, so when you’re writing fiction, make sure you get your facts straight! A good piece of advice is to know more than you put on the page.
Now the trickiest and most enjoyable part of writing dual timelines is connecting your stories, so that each has a bearing on the other. The pacing of both stories is paramount to the genre’s success, so you have to carefully develop the plots from both timelines at an even pace. The switching needs to be seamless so the reader can keep up and transition easily from one timeline to the next. That’s really where your characters and settings come into play, because you want your reader to anticipate each narrative as it unfolds. In my current novel, the sections from the past are told in the first person, while the present day parts are told in the third person. This automatically changes the tone and offers the reader a different perspective on each timeline. As I said, both timelines should be strong enough to stand on their own, yet contain all of the thematic links that bind the stories into one. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if done successfully, it’s a genre that can be a thrilling ride, for reader and writer alike.
Every author has their own approach to writing dual timelines and this can vary with each book. The Heirloom was written in sequence, but my new novel (which is also dual timeline) was written in separate blocks. I wrote the present day first and then focused entirely on the past. I found that really allowed me to immerse myself completely in that era (which happens to be the early 1900’s, just before the war). However, either approach has its challenges so you need to do whatever you can to get yourself into the zone. One of the most powerful tools I have for getting into that head-space is music, and I listened to lots of traditional Irish music and folk songs written at that time. Music has a timeless, ethereal quality that really helped me to let my mind drift back through the ages and channel the past. Again I read biographies and other works written at that time in Ireland and hopefully I’ve achieved an authentic setting for my novel. The real fun began when I had to try and weave the stories together! But like I said, I enjoy a challenge.
The dual timeline genre is such an intriguing idea and in fact it was a book I read about past life regression that gave me the inspiration for my first novel. It offers endless possibilities for writers and there are no rules as such. But my one piece of advice is this: Write about a time period you are passionate about. I was fascinated by the Armada landing in Ireland and how the locals tried to help them hide from the authorities. I rented a cottage that overlooked the bay where the ship I was writing about sank. I visited the graveyard in Galway City where a plaque erected by the Spanish Marine Corps remembers the Spanish Soldiers who were executed by the English army. I don’t think I could have written this story if I wasn’t so passionate about the human story behind historical facts.
So while dual timelines might seem like a niche genre, I have seen its popularity grow over the years. Writers like Kate Morton and (ahem) myself are bringing these kinds of stories to a wider audience of readers who like their history with a dash of contemporary on the side 😉
Read my dual timeline novel The Heirloom on Amazon
It’s summer. You all want a good read. Something you can really get your teeth into, historical fiction with a modern twist? I’m only too happy to oblige! Get your peepers over to Amazon UK and Amazon US where you can download a copy of my novel, The Cross Of Santiago for only 99p/c until June 7th. It’s got it all – Spanish knights, battles at sea, mystery, family ties, heirlooms and a love story that spans four centuries.
Adopted as a baby, Amanda Morrison knows nothing of her biological family. But when a lawyer reveals that she has been bequeathed a mysterious heirloom from a long lost aunt, she unlocks the door to a distant past and a secret love. Can her past life really be haunting her present and what can she do to put things right?
The Cross Of Santiago is a tale of two women living in different centuries, whose lives seem to be entwined by fate. A perfect read for Outlander fans.
But don’t just take my word for it! Readers have left the following reviews….
Very good read and also an interesting change of times
An epic romance across the centuries! This book has two settings and I loved both.
If you know nothing about the Spanish Armada and how so many of the ships were shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland and Scotland; then worry not, this book will fill you in. I had forgotten so much of this part of history that it was fantastic to revisit it and I ended up having great discussions about the battle and their mission with my husband who is a history fiend.
This book has a lot of mystery. I was adopted and so I can relate to Amanda as a character. She wants to know about her past, about her birth family, and her family’s history. I have been there and so this book was a good read for me because I could REALLY relate to her. I think books that the reader can relate too are the best kind. They help you feel that the story is more REAL, rather than it just being a story that is being read.
The historical parts based around the Spanish Armada seem particularly well researched and it was interesting to hear the story of the Armada crashing around the coast of Ireland. The characters all feel fleshed out and interesting enough to want to read about and the story doesn’t get bogged down by too much history, there is a nice balance.
Fancy a good read while you’re stuffing your face with chocolate? You’ve come to the right place! Both of my books are on sale for Easter at the cracking price of €0.99/£0.99/$0.99/. But what are they about? Will I like them? I hear you cry. Hold on to your cream egg – here’s a little preview to help you decide.
A charming bakery in a picturesque French town sounds like the idyllic place to escape her life, but Edith Lane soon discovers that some ghosts are harder to escape than others. A magical, heart-warming story that is sure to appeal to all of the senses, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is a mouth-watering journey of love, liberty and la vie en rose.
*****A wonderful, captivating story *****Terrifically written and researched
Adopted as a baby, Amanda Morrison knows nothing of her biological family. But when she receives a mysterious heirloom from a long lost aunt, she unlocks the door to a distant past and a secret love. Can her past life really be haunting her present and what can she do to put things right?
The Cross Of Santiago is an intriguing novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate.
***** Epic romance across the centuries ***** Intriguing story
***** Interesting mix of genres ***** Unusual but enjoyable!
And don’t forget, you can always download my short story Betwixt anytime of the year for free!
‘Catherine returns to Hollowbrook Cottage on a cold November night, looking to escape her present life and lose herself in the past. However, her journey crosses the path of a mysterious stranger who will change her life forever.’