Paula invented a house for her first Irish novel.
Mist Na Mara was the house my hero and heroine jointly
inherited in Irish Inheritance, and from the moment I started the novel, I
could see it in my mind.
Here’s the heroine’s first view of the front of the house:
Built of grey stone, Mist Na Mara House had a
central doorway, flanked on both sides by a pair of long sash windows and, at
each end of the frontage, large square bay windows on the ground and upper
I knew roughly where
I wanted the house to be situated (i.e. near Clifden in the west of Ireland) but had to ignore
the fact that this area only had a few isolated stone cottages, and some modern
white bungalows. This was where I wanted my house to be, so I put it there
And this was the
view from the front of the house:
She turned and let her eyes take in the
panoramic view. Not only did they overlook the narrow bay and the low green
hills on the far shore, but they were high enough to see another stretch of
water beyond and some larger hills. On their left were the peaks of the Twelve
Bens, and to their right, broken by a few rocky islets, was the vast grey
expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
The inside of the
house was sharply focused in my mind, too:
Once inside, she stared around, hardly able
to take in the elegance of the large hallway with oak wainscoting and polished
parquet floor. In the centre stood a rosewood pedestal table on an ornately
carved column, and a crystal chandelier sparkled in the sun’s rays through the
arched fanlight above the door. On each side of the hallway were two solid oak
doors, much broader than modern doorways. Ahead of them, a wide wooden
staircase curved upwards, with a brass handrail and wrought iron balusters, and
a corridor at the side of the stairs led to the back of the house.
And, of course,
there was the bedroom which had been locked for over 70 years, and my hero and
heroine were the first to see it, but I won’t post any spoilers here about
Originally I called
the house Sea Mist House – but then I discovered there was a hotel with that
name in Clifden. One of my friends in Dublin came to my rescue, with the half-English,
half Irish name of Mist Na Mara – meaning ‘mist of the sea’.
The house also played
a part in my second Irish novel, because the heroine of that story, who lived there
when it became an arts and drama centre, had every reason not to want to return
as a result of tragedy two years earlier.
Mist Na Mara also
plays a large part in my current WIP, the third of my Irish novels, and I’m now
so familiar with the place, I find it hard sometimes to remember it is not
actually a ‘real’ place.
definitely a wonderful thing! And one comment by a reviewer was especially
pleasing: The description of the old
house, Mist Na Mara, was excellent. I walked around the house in my head, I
could picture the bedrooms, the kitchen, and even the drive up to it.
It’s great when
something you have invented also captures someone else’s imagination.