Michelle Garen is the type of person who encounters coffee and ends up with a glass of wine. We … should we … should? Indeed, it does.
Late afternoon, I’m in the hotel lounge in Dublin. Michelle is full of talk, and the same devilish sensations that enliven the characters in her book.
Michelle’s 2020 debut novel, Big Girl Small TownReceived the praise of many critics – and this month Factory girlsHer new novel.
It talks about the rebellious Mave Murray and her two friends from a small, unnamed town in Northern Ireland. Set in the summer after graduating from school, the girls work at a local shirt factory, waiting for A-level grades and a destiny that goes beyond the life of a small town.
The event will take place in 1994, the year of the IRA ceasefire. The shirt factory is one of the only places in the town where Catholic and Protestant workers sit side by side in a relatively peaceful manner.
It’s fiction, but Michelle was able to take advantage of some of her own experience. Michelle from Castlederg, County Tyrone left to study English in Trinity in 1993, but she went home to work at a shirt factory in her first college summer. .. She said, “My friend was in the factory, so they took me to the door.”
She still remembers the satisfaction of ending the day with a pile of pressed shirts and the pure physical effort of her work.
“Everyone had to set aside their differences in order to make money. That was a big motivation.”
Still, factory collisions were avoided in a smaller way. “I wasn’t allowed to listen to Northern Ireland or Irish radio. I had to listen to English radio because of less inflammation. I couldn’t turn on RTÉ.”
The experience stayed with her. By the time she left Trinity in the mid-1990s, the seeds of her novel had been well planted – but difficult times awaited.
Michelle had moved to London, where she suffered from encephalitis and became ill. The illness caused swelling in his brain and had a serious impact on Michelle’s quality of life. So she went home for rehab.
“I really had a hard time getting back to writing, and it was a short story, and one short story turned into Big Girl, Small Town..However Factory girls I’ve been sitting for a long time. “
It burned slowly. She wrote 40,000 words, which could be distracting. She moved to Dublin with her French Moroccan husband Medi. And after her second son was born, she became a postpartum eclampsia. All the while, her work as a digital content producer has run out of her writing energy.
Thankfully, the Arts Council grant gave her some time and space. And somewhere in the blockade turmoil and homeschooling, Michelle managed to finish. Factory girls..
Her debut novel had a similar long gestation period. “People seem to think I have two books in two years. I have books older than my kids.”
Given Michelle’s own book, Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls, And, especially for the works of Anna Burns and Louise Kennedy, whether I see Michelle reconstructing the story of women-centric troubles and seeing a new surge in female voices in the north. I will ask.
She isn’t keen on that neat little take.
“It took me 10 years to get it Big Girl, Small Town The book was interested in London, but the Irish publisher wasn’t so keen, she says.
“I think many people in the South feel uncomfortable in the North. They are uncomfortable with what they think about it.
“When I went to Trinity, the type of conversation you had wasn’t that complicated – and this probably came from people who are now leaders in the country. Push it into the sea. .. People thought it was perfectly fine to tell you. “
She believes that “Taste Maker” regarded Northern Ireland as a Liam Neeson movie. “They were stories – Liam Neeson was hot and sweaty,” she says with a laugh.
Michelle talks about sometimes feeling uncomfortable as a Northerner living in Dublin. She believed that Medi would fit here more easily than Michelle when she and Medi decided to leave London for Dublin.
“I think he’s right. If you’re French or European, you probably won’t see at all. You don’t raise too many hackles. Now they’re Northern. After Sam Magwire. come here…”
of Factory girls, Maeve has expressed dissatisfaction with Northern Ireland being stuck between two indifferent countries. Michelle shares this itch.
“This idea that the unification of Ireland is based on the republic being the winner, and it is a culture in which everyone participates rather than looking at the arc of history of the last 100 years. Wrong – on both sides. . “
“Nationalized health care is what the South needs, and welcoming people from both backgrounds is very important where they feel unerased.”
She states she does not want to be “subsumed in the Republic of Ireland without introspection, not just self-blessing.”
of Factory girls, Mave was planning to become a journalist and upset her life with false reports of events around her. Michelle aims to tell the same truth in her novel.
“We couldn’t tell our story, we were erased. The bigger the bomb, the higher the death toll – they are the stories told.”
I remember seeing the bloody Sunday headline Sun When she was very young. She said, “It was far from the version I grew up hearing from her parents.”
Massive atrocities bring the spotlight – and the press ends.
“The cumulative death toll was an attempt to keep the UK at a controllable level. The idea was that everyone believed that there was an acceptable level of violence.”
Books like Michelle modify their accounts in their own way.
“You are not so focused on the number of deaths, but more on the stories in and around it.”
There is no mistake Factory girlsAlthough ultimately affirming life, it’s still a story about trauma and its quiet creep.
Michelle remembers the morning in Trinity in 1993. At that time, a friend of the new college said he was having “the worst morning in history” because he broke his nails. Michelle had a tough morning too.
“Someone I knew set up a bomb, but the bomb exploded and no one was killed directly. [but] An old woman in a nearby nursing facility died of a heart attack. She didn’t talk to her new friend.
“It was in good shape for the remaining four years. You didn’t talk about it.”
But now she does.
Michelle’s mental health support experience in Northern Ireland was “quite horrifying, but I helped here. It made a big difference.
“In the north, it’s very different. Your counselor knows that there are a thousand people on his list who are worse than you.”
Michelle is encouraged by the poetic work of Gale McConnell in Belfast, which is rare among her colleagues by openly discussing her traumatic experience.
“Gale was three years old when his father was shot dead in front of her. She’s younger than me, but I think it’s the first time I’ve heard people talk about trauma.
There are other consequences of living with violence that are still being investigated. Michelle states that children in Northern Ireland have a much higher autism rate than the Republic and is wondering if it is related to trauma.
In her hometown, she says, “The idea of taking time to take care of yourself is not well recognized. The perceived traumatic reaction is that” everything works “always.
“As long as you have the drama, the excitement, and something to fight, you keep going. You suddenly go to the moment when everything calms down.” What am I fighting? “
“You have enough food, you have enough money, and no one knocks on the door with a gun. You can’t deal with it.”
This is what Michelle has been wrestling with himself. “I’ve lived a pretty volatile life. I think I have 30 addresses in 20 years.”
Even the house they bought was a fixer upper that “always needs attention”. Therefore, the pandemic crisis was a comfortable place for her.
“Last fall, Factory girls Handed over, all the signs were good, my kids went back to school. And my mood … “She is looking down.
Her family doctor tells her: Do you feel those feelings? “
As part of the school program, Michelle’s children learn how to manage their mental health. She is in awe.
“My kids say something like” I think you need to breathe in a box. ” I love it! “
Does Michelle think the people of the Republic appreciate the level of trauma in Northern Ireland?
She describes her recent trauma course as follows: “A very nice college educated person said,’We all know we’re here and we’re feeling traumatized. I don’t like English. We’re experiencing two world wars. No. We have never actually been violent since the North-South War. “
“I didn’t exist. You did a very nice job [of erasure] I feel sorry for English. “
She admits that writing about Northern Ireland is “tired,” but she doesn’t change her tack immediately. She has several books on the go, including the story of “a very unpleasant memoir” and “a really crazy Catholic childhood.”
She said, “For years I was a crazy Catholic. I wanted to be a priest.”
Why did you fall?
“Trinity is designed to knock out the wrong kind of religion from you,” she says with a laugh.
She refuses to compare her with Mave Factory girls..
“Mave is too brave and too elastic. I always wanted safety.”
That doesn’t seem to be true. She found a way to tell a story that had never been told. And she cleverly writes about the experience of women in sex in a candid way that is still unusual.
“I’m always sorry for my parents. Daddy was the principal, Mummy was an elementary school teacher, my uncle was a priest – and I write filth. Not, but they are. I am thinking.”
Her new book is Derry Girls.. Although the edges are stiff, it resembles the nostalgia of the 1990s with an irreverent sense of humor. The show has brought great benefits to everyone in the north, in the sense that we can all see it, and it’s really positive.
“Lisa McGee is a great writer. [forward] The experience of a woman living in a fun, chaotic manner is noteworthy. Please tell me more. “
After the interview, Michelle is still full of stories about adult Irish dance classes and crazy nights in pubs with a girl from her own factory. When it comes to the notable woman’s experience, she doesn’t run out of material right away.
Michelle Garen’s “Factory Girls” was published by John Murray for € 19.95 and is now on sale.
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