Author Interview – Peter Cunningham
What motivates you to write? It’s a sort of need that has to be answered. I’ve always got a novel on the go – I need to tell the story, to complete the story so that I can begin another one.
What writing are you most proud of? My novel ‘The Sea and the Silence’ has to be high on the list. It’s one of four novels set in and around the fictional town of Monument, which is based on the city of Waterford in south east Ireland, where I grew up. ‘The Sea and the Silence’ is written from the point of view of Iz, the heroine of the story. I had this idea of a woman alone, who has walked out of the social class she grew up in, and into the mainstream world of Ireland, which to her, up to then, has been a mystery.
My heroine would embody the courage I so admired in my mother and in Rhoda, her mother, two women who, in a way, gambled all for love. The fact that both women actually married gamblers is ironic. It was as if they had been born to roll the dice.
This is what Iz does: she gambles everything. The result is no less than the harsh reality of life to which we are all accustomed. And yet, there is a magnificence in her grief and sadness that makes us want to rally to her. To urge her to keep going. To love her.
Writing it from her point of view, as a man writing in the skin of a woman, was the most natural thing to do.
What are you most proud of in your personal life? My family. I’ve written some good books. I’m proud to be an Irishman.
What books did you love growing up? I loved adventure novels, especially those by Rider Haggard, such as ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ and ‘She’. I adored Edgar Allan Poe and Dickens. Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Eric Ambler and Hammond Innes were all crime/thriller writers that I liked. Alistair MacLean too.
I graduated to Leon Uris, then Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Suzanne. Dick Francis came next.
Like all young men I went through a Hemingway phase.
Shakespeare has always been amazing for me—he’s so modern! I loved Wordsworth.
I read everything John Updike wrote and greatly admired Mordecai Richler.
Proust is a writer to become immersed in. I think in some way’s he’s a writer’s writer, in that he’s writing so beautifully what we all think about, day in, day out.
Who is your favorite author? If I had to be stranded with the works of just one writer, it would have to be with those of Shakespeare.
What book genre of books do you adore? Literary fiction.
What book should everybody read at least once? ‘Remembrance of Times Past’ by Proust.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy? If a book isn’t working for me by the fifth page, I’m outa there.
A book for your head and your heart. Winner of the Prix de l’Europe 2013.
A powerful novel from one of Ireland’s best writers on the turbulent birth of a nation, and the lovers it divides
Ireland 1945. Young and beautiful, Iz begins a life on the south-east coast with her new husband. As she settles in to try and make her life by the ever restless sea, circumstances that have brought Iz to the town of Monument are shrouded in mystery. However, history, like the sea cannot stay silent for long. The war in Europe is over, and change is about to brush away the old order. Soaring across the decades that follow Ireland’s newly won independence, sweeping across the fierce class issues and battles over land ownership that once defined Irish society, The Sea and the Silence is an epic love story set inside the fading grandeur of the Anglo-Irish class.
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Genre – Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Rating – G
More details about the author
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