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Crime author Anthony J Quinn: 'I definitely think I write better with distractions'

Crime author Anthony J Quinn from Co Tyrone on how lockdown affected his family, including his GP wife Clare, and work on his latest novel

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New book: Anthony Quinn at home with wife Clare

New book: Anthony Quinn at home with wife Clare

New book: Anthony Quinn at home with wife Clare

One evening last April during the first lockdown, I was meant to be working on the final draft of my crime novel Turncoat, a metaphysical detective tale set during the Troubles. Some writers work best without distractions, some work better with distractions - I'm definitely in the latter brigade. Bored by the empty page, I put down my pen and slipped outside to breathe the twilight air, leaving the side door open, a boot wedged next to the hinge, in the hope that the evening air would somehow creep into the house and lend my book the mood of foreboding I was hoping to create.

I wandered through the trees that swept down to the road at the front of our house. Tiny bats swooped and darted overhead, too immersed in their pursuit of insects to notice my restless walk. The couples, who had taken to strolling past our house every evening since the lockdown began, had all returned to their homes. Beyond the road, the narrow glen lay full of darkness.

Ten years ago, with my wife and our four children, I moved back to this secluded hollow in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains in Northern Ireland. On the hill to the right, I could see, through the trees, the lights of the rambling farmhouse belonging to my parents, Marie and Cathal, now in their mid-70s and self-isolating, and the darkening lane where we often greeted each other and chatted. There were other lights deeper amid the trees. Lights that I could only see in winter when the leaves of the beech, hazel and ash trees fell, the lights of the homes where my sisters also lived with their young families.


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