If there’s anything that writer Amanda Gerd loves to write about Kerry more than she does—which she does so eloquently and beautifully in her debut novel—it’s the people of Kerry, whom she described as this week’s Here at The Kerryman. I spoke. How she, a Tasmanian native, found herself so in love with everything Kerry did that she was forced to set her book right here in the state.
It’s been a long road for Amanda, a geologist by training, and who lived all over the world before settling in Kerry – everything she said didn’t go exactly as planned.
“it [Kerry] It’s my home now. I guess I’ll always be a jerk but I’m just really happy to blow up here. My husband and I, we came here on vacation for maybe half a dozen years and of course we had no idea that the trip would change our lives or anything like that,” she said.
“We turned the corner of the Ring of Kerry to Sneem and thought ‘My God, this is fantastic’ and we saw this big old empty house for sale hanging at an angle with the sign that the letters were falling on. We called and arranged to see the next day, but by that evening, everyone in the village had assumed that we were already buying a house!” He said with a laugh.
Amanda’s book, titled “The Midnight House,” was released last Thursday, May 12, and is a multi-time mystery set in the fictional Kerry village of Ballin. The story set between 1940, 1958 and 2019 is described as an unforgettable and mesmerizing tale of mysteries, war, love and sacrifice.
The story begins in Kerry in 1939 with the disappearance of the young and beautiful Lady Charlotte Rathmore in south-west Ireland, who is last seen near the Lake of Blackwater Hall. Meanwhile, in London, on the verge of the Blitz, Nancy Rathmore is mourning Charlotte’s death when a letter arrives containing a secret she has been sworn to keep – one that will change her life forever. .
Fast forward decades later to 2019 when Ellie Fitzgerald was forced to defame and heartbroken Dublin. Leaving journalism, she returns to rural Kerry to deal with the storm. But, when she finds a faded letter hidden in the pages of an old book, she finds herself mired in a long-held mystery. And as Ellie begins to uncover the mystery, it becomes clear that the letter may be the key to more than just Charlotte’s disappearance…
It’s a book, Amanda said this week, that most likely wouldn’t have been it had it not been for a quick trip to Listowel Writers’ Week in 2019, where she finally dwells fully on her long-held dream of writing her own. Was prompted to charge. Book.
“Like so many people, I’ve always wanted to write a novel but I never really thought I could. That was until 2019 when I saw a flyer for Listowel Writers’ Week in a pub in Kenmare. I thought ‘What is this Writers Week?’ And so I looked at it and went there for Writers Week while it went on. I went to some book launches and an event in particular, it was Patricia O’Reilly, I guess And she was talking about a book called Trolley’s First Rose that she just launched,” she said.
“She was great and I thought ‘God, wouldn’t it be nice to be like her’ and then someone in the audience held their hand and asked a few questions about their manuscript. I kind of repeated because this woman was like me. The regular looking guy who just went and done and wrote a manuscript and is trying to get it out into the world,” she continued.
“I went home from there and literally that night, I pulled out loads of books that I loved — these multi-time mysteries — and I tabbed them all and started working on the structure and then the next few months. In the U.S., I went ahead and planned and wrote the novel by the end of the year,” he added.
Now, in what is certainly a pinch-me moment for the Tasmanian-born Sneem resident, here we see someone else sitting in that audience at Listowel a few years later talking about his book, now narrating him. Are Us How Her novel is, at its core, a love letter to Carey, the Countess she now proudly calls home.
“I definitely wanted to write about Kerry because I love it so much. I am really fascinated by the history of Ireland, but also by the history of Kerry in particular. Because we are renovating a big old place here I learned a lot about the big houses in the area and was fascinated by the ones that survived and survived into their 20s. I’m really interested in these absent landlords and these generous and spiteful landlords that exist. Done,” she said.
“The house was certainly a central part of it and I would never have set up here other than a fictional little village somewhere on the Iveragh peninsula. Although everything is fictional, even walking into the village here, I Every day was inspired and I think at its core, the novel is a love letter to Kerry and I hope my love for Kerry comes through in that,” she continued.
Amanda’s love for Carey extends far beyond her stunning landscapes, into the hearts of her people as to why the county holds such a special place in her heart.
“I love the landscape of Kerry but I also love the people here. Wherever we’ve gone, there’s a hand of friendship and welcome,” she said.
“Even after we arrived, we were in this house that didn’t have windows and we settled around this pot-bellied stove and I remember a blue tractor coming on drive. We drove it Saw it falling back and forth. Grass and things like that and as it came on our drive, it took a U-turn and it dropped a pile of split logs for us on the driveway and it went,” she continued .
“I almost burst into tears thinking about it and we actually met that farmer later and we’re actually godparents to one of his kids. I love it to bits here and Kerry is definitely home now is,” she concluded.
‘The Midnight House’ is now available for purchase online and in all good bookstores.