Thursday 21 November 2019

Over the moon With Under A Sky

Dundalk writer's trip to Malta was the inspiration for new novel

Nicola Kearn
Nicola Kearn

Anne Campbell

A trip to the island of Malta was the inspiration behind Dundalk woman Nicola Kearn's great new historical fiction novel, 'Under a Maltese Sky, which was published last week.

Nicola, a former St Vincent's student who is originally from Farndreg, spent a year researching all the angles in the book, which details the importance of air power and pilots during the second world war.

The story focuses on the siege of Malta during World War II and the story of Ernie, who leaves the family farm in Ireland to join the RAF and ends up as a reconnaissance pilot. Running parallel to his story is that of Anna Mellor, a boarding school student with whom the Irishman's path intersects. The tale is told from the year 2001, looking back more than 60 years.

And while she wrote the book in the space of a few months, it was the editing that took the longest time, with Nicola spending around six months on getting it just right. In addition, one of Nicola's sons was involved in an accident and ended up in a coma at Beaumont Hospital while she was in the middle of the book, but thankfully he has made a full recovery.

Nicola joked: 'I could write a book about writing a book'.

Writing was always something she enjoyed and aspired to and Nicola wanted to be a journalist when she was a teenager. She got pregnant when she was quite young and put her writing dreams on hold while she worked 'in order to get a wage for the family'.

But when her youngest son left school to go to college, Nicola found herself with the writing bug again and became a regular contributor to the popular magazine 'Woman's Way'.

She said: 'I was fascinated about how ordinary people lived during WWII. Before I went to Malta, I hardly even knew where it was but it is very beautiful and I visited the war museum while I was there.

'The next day, I started writing and continued until I came back'. Nicola's parents, Nicholas and Mary, have been very supportive of her writing and she was able to call on her mum's masters degree in English to help when it came to proof-reading and editing the script.

Dad Nicholas, who lives in Oldbridge, Toberona, is responsible for the beautiful book cover design and sister Elizabeth has been helping with publicity. And although it was only published a couple of weeks ago, 'Under a Maltese Sky' is already grabbed interest in Malta. She said: 'When I went looking, I found there were no books that had been written about Malta during the second world war and

Nicola also received 'a lot of help' from history groups in Malta, the publishing company in Dublin and her many friends. Already, the book, which is dedicated to sons Darragh and Adam, has sold out in Leitrim where she lives and works as a tour guide at a heritage centre.

'Under a Maltese Sky' by Nicola Kearns is available at Carrolls, Park Street and Opening Minds in Earl Street, Barnes and Noble and download at the Kindle store RRP is €9.95.

Irish Independent