Today I’m delighted to introduce you to debut author Mary Clancy. Mary and I met via Twitter where she’s slowly dipping her toes into the social media waters. Her first book The Blue Washing Bag was published in September and is garnering great reviews.
Over to Mary
I come from Tipperary town. I live in Kildare with my husband and two of my sons. I’ve had a varied career stretching from promotional work to social work, which I stepped aside from just a few year ago. I’ve always felt that I would write some day and here I am with a three book contract from Poolbeg books. Having the space to write has been great – finding the discipline to sit down and write, has been the tricky part. So a deadline works for me. I get my inspiration from stories of the past. Stories from times when people couldn’t speak out as they can today. Things happen in small towns…they always will…
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
The first song that I would include in the soundtrack of my life, would have to be a very old rebel song that I heard as a small child. It brings me back to my childhood in old Ireland. I remember a rounded low sized lady with a very big voice singing this song at some event when we had guests. She’d had a few drinks in and was lacking in decorum as she held the attention of the room. The women were anything but impressed at her brazenness. But they couldn’t shut her up. The men were egging her on to sing another and I was delighted that I was off the rador and allowed stay up. I can still see her, arm resting on the rail, chest out, belting out the tunes, in a slow melodic, crooning fashion.
“Twas down by the Glenside I met an old woman… A plucking young nettles she ne’er saw me coming… I listened a while to the song she was humming… Glory O Glory O to the bold fenian men.
The lyrics were written by Peader Kearney, the author of the Irish National Anthem.
The second song would have to be Carly Simon’s ‘You’re so vain.’ On the day of my fourteenth birthday, I came bursting in the front door at lunch time from school, my mother pointed towards the radio. She had put a request on for me, to be played at lunchtime, as she did every year. And there it was…
‘You’re so vain. You probably think this song is about you…Don’t you! don’t you!
Well I did think it was about me. I asked why she had to chose that song above any other one and she laughed. I was not impressed. Every time I hear it, it brings me back to that day many moons ago. I love that song.
The third piece of music on my list would have to be Viennese waltz. Strauss. I remember dancing to it at the rugby club in Clanwilliam, in Tipperary town, with my boyfriend at the time, wearing my beautiful pale lilac dress. Feeling like a film star, I hadn’t a care in the world as I was twirled around the floor. (The cocktails probably had a hand in it) I have it playing here as I write and it takes me right back to that night.
The fourth piece of music on my playlist would have to be Aslan. The Irish band. Brilliant. ‘
‘How can I protect you in this.. crazy world…yeah.. It’s alright it’s alright. I have fallen down so many times..’
I love to sing along with this song as it brings me closer to my daughter, Denise, who passed aged fourteen from complications of cystic fibrosis. I would have done anything for her, but I couldn’t protect her in the end. But then the song transports me to a better place.
The fifth soundtrack on my playlist would be the Gypsy Kings – their haunting melodies. I feel like dancing around the kitchen when I hear the songs (and I do quite a lot) their music is simply beautiful. The mix of soulful pieces that touch my soul- to the fabulous lively pieces I want to dance to.
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
If I could just mention food. I would find it hard to live without eggs and my morning bucket of strong coffee. ( I really want to add my glass of wine here, but being the lady that I am, I will but mention it discreetly.)
I would find it hard to live without looking around me at the abundance of beauty provided by mother earth. Seeing a missed flower bud creep out to surprise me is always a joy. Watching the birds coming to feed. The changes that the seasons bring. Bulbs bursting to get out in spring. Flowers abundant in summer. Changing leaves in autumn. Winter when it’s all happening beneath the surface.
Scarves. Big wool scarves. Small silk pieces. Cashmere Pashminas from Singapore. Colourful pieces worn in an array of ways. Always 100 per cent something. Quite a collection and plenty of room for more.
I would find it hard to be without my full length mirror. Yes, I’m still as vain as I was at sixteen when my mother played that song on the radio for me. “You’re so vain’ – I put it down to being traumatised at the inference.
Did I mention books at all? I look around me and I hadn’t realised how much I rely on them for comfort. Picking one up, feeling it, flicking through one. Being around them. Getting the time to read one is another matter, as I tend not to read too much when I’m engrossed in my writing.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Be nicer to those who are good to you. Or does that only come with age?
Stop looking at other people in order to see yourself. Just be yourself. And let the begrudgers be off.
Don’t just look at the flowers. Look at the wonderful foliage surrounding them.
Look after your self, you’ve to carry that body around for a long time to come, on the same two feet. And stop looking in that bloody mirror!
You deserve to be happy. Dance! Then dance again.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
I don’t think there’s very much that people don’t know about me, but I will give it a go.
I simply adore babies. The smell of their heads. The muelling cries of an infant.
I love high end cars. Black Automatic ones. With caramel Leather seats. And polished wooden dashboards. And heated front seats. (or is that common knowledge?)
I’m not comfortable with the dark or in the sea. I like to keep my feet firmly on the ground.
I love shopping in TK Maxx. I buy nearly everything there. Spending hours rooting around is a joy (but then again that’s not exactly a secret, either)
I love my home comforts. My favourite place is in my own bed and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Crisp cotton bed linen that cools me down as I slide my leg across. Cream and golden hues to relax in, after a busy day. Soft lighting. Are you asleep yet?
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
At this stage it seems more like 5 things I wish I had achieved.
I’d like to get over my fear of swimming in the ocean. (once I’ve learned how to swim of course.)
I’d like to be able to stand in the pitch dark at the bottom of the stairs sometime, for a few minutes, without making a quick bolt up the stairs. (he’s behind you!)
I’d like to have grandchildren some day, watch them grow up and be active enough to enjoy them.
I’d love to see my book ‘The Blue Washing Bag’ on the centre table at Barnes and Noble in Hyannis, Cape Cod. My dream. That’s it!
I so enjoyed taking part in Five on Friday. I found it relaxing and thought provoking, removing me from my post publication angst. The Blue Washing Bag has been a joy to write. I am working on book number two. Writing this article has reminded me just how much I simply adore writing.
Thanks so much for joining me and sharing today Mary. I loved your music choices. As you know my late mother in law, was a Mary Clancy and my OH tells me one of the only two LP’s they had when younger was The Clancy Brothers, so I thought it fitting that I chose their version of Down By the Glenn. I also love The Gypsy Kings (& dancing around the kitchen!). Thank you for sharing Aslan with us, I hope Denise was a little bit closer today. I also have a pretty large scarf collection and there’s always room for more. I’m also not fond of the dark, I’m not sure that fear will ever go so might have to cross that off your list of hopes! Otherwise I hope that you get to see your books sitting on that centre table – ideally while showing your grandchildren.
The Blue Washing Bag
Denied her real identity, she will find the truth behind her birth!
The Payton twins, born to an unmarried mother in a small town in rural Ireland, are brought to the children’s home by the Parish Priest. Constantly reminded of their mother’s unforgivable fall from grace, they suffer the consequences of her shameful act. Separated without warning at the age of eight, the bond they shared is broken.
Molly Payton arrives in town. Shiny red suitcase in her hand – looking forward to a clean slate – hopeful of a bright future. She is forced to leave again less than a year later, traumatized … having left her baby behind.
Years later, Daisy discovers the distressing truth of her past. Abandoned at birth, left at the side of the street in a washing bag. She has encountered many hardships on her journey which only serve to strengthen her resolve, to prepare her as she sets out to find those who are responsible … and make them pay.
You can follow Mary on Twitter and help her find her feet!