independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Literary coup as Maeve writes of her schooldays

A group of inner-city students has pulled off a publishing coup by getting best-selling author Maeve Binchy to write a poignant introduction to their book of short stories.

"I would love to know what I was thinking about over half- a-century ago when I was at school. If we had been encouraged to write short stories then, which we certainly were not, I wonder what I would have written about?" asks the multimillion-selling author.

"The topics of love and loss and uncertainty would have come up. Also the trust in friends, the fear of betrayal, the wish to belong and yet not to have your personality suffocated by others. I would definitely have written about love, very unrequited and very stumbling, and the hope that people would like me and that I would fit into some kind of race and contest which was how I saw life."

The writer's foreword for the book Yet to Be Told which was written by the transition year students at Mount Carmel Secondary School in Kings Inns Street, Dublin 1, reveals how schoolgirls' lives have changed since Maeve Binchy was a schoolgirl herself.

"It's not necessarily easier to be young today than it was 50 years ago. Its very different," she writes.

"Today's young people are able to write at firsthand about the break-up of parents' marriages and the sense of bewilderment and blame that children inherit from this. Five decades ago, these things didn't happen in Ireland or, if they did, they were never acknowledged.

"Love just grew cold or turned into hate in a household. The damage was just as great to the children but slower then and not as intense. They had the cold comfort of knowing that the household would never close down.

"In a faster moving world, the fear of total change is ever present and these stories underline that very poignantly."

The bestselling author then describes the wide variety of stories in the book, which will be launched tomorrow and will be on sale in Eason's and other bookshops from Tuesday.

And she assures the girls that "life actually gets easier" as you get older.

"Everything still matters, but in a less anxious way. There is love out there and hope and friendship and a chance and a laugh and a lot to see and do.

"And that life is quite like the whole business of writing. It doesn't just happen automatically. It's out there but we have to go and look for it."

Sunday Independent

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