April in the Back of Beyond blends three things that I’m fascinated with together: history, Ireland and parallel worlds.
My father should have been a history teacher, because he has always been keen on sharing historical facts and genealogy with others. But it wasn’t until 2006 when I began writing the story of an ancestor that the names and dates became so much more; they became people much like myself who loved and lost, succeeded and failed, and lived in times of uncertainty. When I came upon the true story of two brothers who had been killed in Ireland’s fight for independence in 1919, I knew I had to tell their story—and the story of their mother, who witnessed the killings and tried to save them. Though we know today how things turned out—with Ireland becoming independent from Britain—no one knew whether they would succeed and every day was filled with uncertainty and danger.
I was drawn to Ireland as I continued to research my family’s history. The highlight of my life was when I traveled to Ireland and discovered the village where my ancestors once lived and I visited with the people there. The Neely family had been granted land at Glen Cull outside of Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, by the British monarchy in the 17th century, and at the time of my first visit there, I was presented with a book that had been written about the school’s history. It turned out that my ancestors had donated land for the school and a local church and had remained well thought of until the last departed in the mid-20th century. In April in the Back of Beyond, I used Ballygawley as inspiration for the village in the book, along with the surrounding area.
The third layer to the story comes with my fascination of parallel worlds. I love science and I wish I was more intellectual so I could understand the parallel worlds about which Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and others have spoken and written so eloquently. I recently learned about aircraft that is in development that could have the potential to bend time and space, making it possible for humans to travel to distant places in our galaxy and beyond, and also have the ability to bend time so an astronaut doesn’t age substantially in getting there. In my book April in the Back of Beyond, I tell the story of a woman that dreamt every night of a house in Ireland. When she finally traveled there and located the house which was for sale, she discovered the current owners had placed it on the market because it had become haunted—with the woman that had been dreaming of it. The story was actually true; the woman had never been psychic or an astral traveler, and yet there she was, halfway around the world every night in her dreams. It was a fascinating subject that led me to the hauntings in the book, in which April lives in 1919 and the writer, Hayley Hunter, who has rented the carriage house, is there in the present day.
So now you have the inside stories that make up April in the Back of Beyond—the blend of history, the setting of Ireland, and the hauntings made possible through parallel worlds.