Meet Louise Kennedy, author of the Women’s Prize 2023 longlisted novel Trespasses.
A book which The Guardian described as a “masterly novel about a young Catholic woman and a married older Protestant” which “has a quality rare in fiction – a sense of utter conviction.”
The premise of this book is powerful and unique, so what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…
Describe your novel in one sentence as if you were telling a friend.
Trespasses is a star-crossed love story set in a small town near Belfast in 1975, at the height of the time known as The Troubles.
What inspired you to write Trespasses?
A visit to the Ulster Museum in 2015 made me think about how art can express the unspeakable in a place where language is fraught. I made a ghost of The Troubles in my head and imagined a life for him.
Are there any locations that have a special connection for you or your book?
Holywood, Co Down, where I grew up; Queens University, the Lyric Theatre and Malone Road in Belfast; the shipyards and Belfast Lough.
Which part of the book was the most fun to write? Which was the most challenging?
I love writing dialogue and had especially good craic writing the exchanges between my main character, Cushla, and her gin-sodden mother.
Writing the sex scenes was difficult, as they can so easily descend into comedy or pornography.
Which of the characters from the book would you most like to spend a weekend away with and why?
Cushla’s friend Gerry Devlin. He is funny, easy-going and wise. And a great dancer!
What first inspired you to write?
I was coerced into joining a writing group in 2014 when I was 47. After a mortifying first meeting, I agreed to attempt a short story. I began it as soon as I got home and have been writing ever since.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Every time I feel I have run into a wall with a piece of writing, I call my best friend, the writer Una Mannion. She tells me to keep going. Works every time.