A Londonderry author has said she is self-publishing a book on the Troubles after it was turned down by literary agents "wary" of the subject matter.
Jane Buckley (54) is to release the first instalment of her 'Stones Corner' series on February 1, to coincide with the 49th anniversary of Bloody Sunday this weekend.
'Stones Corner: Turmoil' is a 'historical fiction' novel portraying life in Derry in the 1970s. It is a thriller set after the fallout of Bloody Sunday and focuses on the survival of one of the city's last remaining shirt factories, featuring a young Catholic girl who falls in love with her boss at the factory, a Protestant.
The work is described as a 'factional book' - a mixture of fact and fiction - that "covers a great deal of issues encountered at that time by both sides of the sectarian divide including conflict, cruelty, divided loyalties, strong family ties, gallows humour and star-crossed lovers".
Jane, who was born in Derry in the 1960s, left school at 16 to find work before travelling to England in 1983. She worked in sales and marketing in London for many years and set up a furniture design business, later splitting her time between London and a home in the south of France when her husband retired.
"I always knew I would come home eventually, although I loved France I just couldn't settle. I missed all the people back home," admitted Jane.
Jane, who has two grown children, returned home in 2017 and settled just across the border outside Derry.
"During my time away I had worked for American Express and got to travel all over, where inevitably people heard my accent and were inquisitive about the Troubles, often asking 'so what was all that about?'" she explained.
"Even in London and in the mainland UK, people couldn't really understand what it was all about. They obviously heard stories through the media and TV and naturally people put two and two together and form their own opinions from what they see, much of it very biased."
Jane said she wanted to tell a story, rather than simply list historical facts, for younger generations to learn about the Troubles, but not in a "depressing" way.
An avid reader all her life, Jane began work on the manuscript in 2017, however, she put the project on the backburner for a few years before using the lockdown period to complete it. But she found many literary agents were hesitant to take on a book about the Troubles.
"One very well-known agent in particular in England came back to me in an email and said 'never had, never will, not interested - I won't have anything to do with books on the Troubles'," she said.
"It seems to be a subject matter that agents are quite happy to just brush under the carpet and say 'I don't want to go there'. I honestly believe that they're just so wary about anything relating to the Troubles. I sent the manuscript to around 45 or 50 different agents and that kind of response was fairly common.
"That's one of my greatest frustrations around the Troubles - the lack of understanding from many about why it began and went on for so long."
As for her hopes for the book, Jane said: "I would love to see it as a series or a film, it's got a bit of everything in it, love, humanity, shocks. I would love to be a success - everyone can have dreams."
To pre-order 'Stones Corner: Turmoil' visit www.janebuckleywrites.com