Derry author Jane Buckley shares her inspiration and the pros and cons of self-publishing her own work

Author Jane Buckley was born and raised in Derry. She left for London at the age of 17, where she worked for 25 years, before returning home in 2017 with her husband, after some years spent in France.

ane’s experiences of travel and life in London during the Troubles, inspired her to pen the Stones Corner series which comprises four books; Turmoil, Darkness, the recently released Light, with a fourth book Hope in the pipeline.

“I travelled all over the world with American Express, and time and time again, I’d be asked, ‘Why the conflict?’” Jane says.

“It frustrated me that so few understood the why, when, and how the Troubles continued for so many years. Much was to do with the media; events were either misreported or biased, and several Stones Corner readers were astounded to learn, through my fiction, what took place.

“Reviews tell me that many, including people from the south of Ireland, honestly didn’t know the totality of what was occurring in their own country. It’s been a fascinating learning journey; I discovered so much myself.”

The thematic concerns of Jane’s books, include love, murder, betrayal, loss, poverty and survival.

“I wanted to steer readers into an honest, unbiased storyline laying out the suffering everyone endured during these difficult years, no matter which community.

“At first, I aimed the novels at the younger generation in the hope they would learn to understand more about what their parents and grandparents experienced and the consequences of the fallout.

“Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland had one of the highest suicide rates in the UK, primarily due to PTSD. We must not forget what we have experienced; talking, sharing, and understanding are part of any healing process. It’s proven that unless we do this, it’s much more difficult for people to move on positively with their lives.”

The author says her readership has evolved over time.

“Today I find myself with a 50-50 split between middle-aged men and women,” Jane explains.

“The fact that men are reading my book too is reassuring, given most fictional readers are women overall. These statistics tell me that the key ingredients in the novel’s thrills and plots attract all genres, which is brilliant.

“I was wrong when I thought people wouldn’t want to re-experience life then — a reason the books are becoming more and more successful.”

Jane has two grownup daughters, Maggie and Cassie. She recently launched her third book Light during a working holiday in New Zealand, where Maggie lives with her husband and two children Charlie (7) and Alba (4).

“Last year was particularly tough for several reasons and unfortunately Light was delayed,” Jane says. “However, I thought it might be fun to get it out there along with seeing in the New Year in a country I love.

“Stones Corner Light V3 continues the saga of books Turmoil and Darkness, and takes us to 1981/1982 when the political landscape in Northern Ireland, ‘ballot vs Armalite’, begins to change. It was difficult to find any light-hearted events during this period, but I managed a few, so there are a few giggles in there.”

Although Jane is passionate about writing and loves the creative aspect of authoring books, she admits it can be challenging at times.

“When you are doing something ordinary or in an obscure place, like digging through a freezer at Sainsbury’s or even on a dentist’s chair, an idea could hit you like a brick,” Jane says.

“As to the challenging aspects, I self-published my novels two years ago primarily because agents told me any work to do with The Troubles was not in flavour nor desired. Not only that, I’m getting on a bit, and I didn’t have the patience and appetite to keep writing letter after letter to publishers and agents.

“It took up so much time, and you’d rarely get an acknowledgement or a response. I also wanted to ensure I was portraying any events and happenings I described truthfully and sensitively.

“My novels are not for everyone, but those that have read them love their honesty.”

To those who are considering the self-publishing route, Jane says it has numerous advantages.

“In the last five or so years, self-publishing has taken off. Fiction is incredibly competitive; from my research, more than 7,500 books are downloaded daily on Amazon, primarily by self-publishers.

“Self-publishing has many advantages, especially allowing an author to truly ‘own’ their work from end to end.

“My books are raw and hard-hitting, but through self-publishing, I’ve been able to write what I believe and want to say; the freedom to do this lies only in going down this path.”

Although, she cautions, “Self-publishing is arduous work”.

“Most traditional publishers have the network to introduce new pieces to a broader marketplace through existing relationships with distributors, bookshops, the media and other authors who can recommend or review new work.

“Another advantage of traditional publishing is new writers can enter credible and high-profile competitions that will only enhance their work; not all self-published authors can.

“Serious self-published authors must do everything from writing the piece, getting a structural editor, a copywriter, and a proofreader, to formatting and finishing.

“After that, the long slog is marketing your work, promoting online and offline; it never stops.”

The creative says the following characteristics are necessary when writing a book:

“For fiction, the essential ingredient is imagination, and it would be best if you were a natural storyteller.

“Other necessities include patience, tenacity, and determination. For example, nothing happens quickly in publishing; it can take weeks or months to get a response from an agent or a couple of years to get your book in print. You also have to be resilient when it comes to negative reviews or feedback and be prepared to learn some tough lessons along the way.

“It’s not easy, but my goodness, it is so worthwhile when you see someone with your book in their hand, especially when they’re buying it.”

To those who have a goal of authoring a book in 2023, Jane says: “If I can do it, you can do it. I never dreamt I’d write; I’ve always been an avid reader.

“Certain writing can be cathartic and healing. It costs nothing; it’s secure, and it’s sometimes cleansing.

“You don’t have to produce a colossal book; write what you feel or imagine and let it run its course.”

To purchase Jane Buckley’s books, see janebuckleywrites.com. The paperback editions are £12.99 and e-books are £5.99

Belfast Telegraph News