Dream Interview of Maggie Plummer: Finalist in the Best Indie Books of 2013 Awards

[It’s that time of the year again when The New Kindle Book Review is running its Best Indie Books of the Year awards. Top five finalists for the 2013 awards in various genres were announced September 1, 2013. In keeping with our tradition established last year in the first year of the awards, we have asked each of the finalists who care to participate to provide us two pieces: a dream interview and a dream review. Although these will appear under my byline and Caleb Pirtle’s, the posts are the work of the finalist authors. We hope you enjoy them and use them as an introduction to the works of these fine writers.-SW]

And now we have Maggie Plummer, author of Spirited Away- A Novel of the Stolen Irish, a finalist in the literary fiction genre.

Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer

Dream Interview

By Maggie Plummer, author of Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish 

For Stephen Woodfin

Irish actor Liam Neeson and the Irish Film Board have flown bestselling novelist Maggie Plummer from her home in Montana to western Ireland, are covering her expenses for a three-month-long Irish book tour, and are paying her handsomely for an exclusive author interview. The interview is being videotaped in the sitting room of Liam’s 400-year-old castle estate west of Clifden in the gorgeous Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. The author has final editing rights to the videotape, and must approve it before it airs in Ireland and then all over the world. Joining Liam and Maggie are Irish actors Colin Farrell and Pierce Brosnan.

            They are sipping from large mugs of Irish coffee. All morning it has been pouring chilly rain, but as they sit down for the interview the clouds part and the sun beams through the ornate, sparkling castle windows, lighting up the room in one of those crazy “hallelujah” moments. Somehow, at the very same time, ancient Irish harp music begins to flow sweetly in the background…

Liam: Welcome, Maggie, to Ireland! I want to congratulate you on your fantastic bestselling novel, Spirited Away – A Novel of the Stolen Irish, and offer our best wishes on the upcoming film.

Maggie: Thank you, Liam. It’s great to be here! I’m very excited about all of this, and about the novel becoming a major motion picture. The latest word is that it will be a collaboration between the Irish Film Board and Producer/Director Steven Spielberg.

Liam: Spielberg! Excellent.

Colin: The best.

Liam: That he is.

Pierce: Wonderful news, that. Maggie, your historical novel was published for a year before it became a bestseller. What made it catch on so, after a whole year?

Maggie: Book sales caught fire when the novel was selected as a 2013 Finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book Awards. I want to credit my Kindle Book Review reviewer, Dawn Edwards, who reviewed my novel, loved it, and urged me to enter it into the awards competition.

Colin: Your novel tells a unique tale from real history that most people have never heard of. How did you happen to write it? I mean, how did a small town Montana woman such as yourself come up with this compelling story from an all-but-forgotten chapter of Irish history?

Maggie (takes a deep breath): Colin, thank you for asking that question! My grandmother, Eleanor Brennan Plummer, was a first generation Irish American. She raised her six Irish Catholic children in Missoula, Montana during the Great Depression, supporting the family with her journalism and her social work. Somehow, Eleanor also managed to write award-winning poetry. I would give almost anything to have known her. Unfortunately, she died before I was born.

The reason my main character is an O’Brennan from County Kilkenny is because my wonderful Irish grandmother was a Brennan from County Kilkenny.

(Liam, Colin, and Pierce nod and smile warmly.)

Maggie Plummer
Maggie Plummer

In 2008, I finally got to travel to Ireland. I was reading the history section of an Irish travel guidebook when I stumbled across a line that said that during Oliver Cromwell’s Reign of Terror in the 1650s, a majority of Ireland’s Catholic population was slaughtered, exiled to the west, or sold into slavery in the Caribbean. What?!! I said, my jaw dropping. I did a triple-take, thinking I had misread the sentence.

But I hadn’t misread it. How could it be that I’d never heard of that? I wondered. When I asked around, no one else had heard of it either. I began to read about Cromwell’s Reign of Terror in books and Internet articles, was astounded by what I read, and grew passionate about the topic. These enslaved, horribly abused people could easily have been my ancestors.

For many years I had wanted to write fiction. I thought, this is it! This is my novel!

Liam: And what a novel it is!

(Maggie smiles.)

Liam: Why did you choose to go the route of self-publishing?

Maggie: I self-published because that is possible now, thanks to Amazon’s great programs. Also, I decided to self-publish rather than waiting and waiting and waiting for an agent or publisher to respond, much less want to publish it. I was afraid I would get discouraged, and this book would sit hidden away in a drawer. I did not want that to happen, not to this story…because Irish slavery was an atrocity that should never be forgotten. I find it outrageous that so few know about it.

Colin: Good for you, for doing your bit to educate people about this.

Maggie: Thanks!

Liam: How did you create your main character, Freddy?

Maggie: I wanted to take the reader into the very heart of the Irish slavery experience, with an intimate view of it. I figured, what better way to do that than with a handsome, spirited girl of only thirteen? This character had to be tough-minded enough to face all of the horrors and still keep her humanity, still keep her heart open. That’s Freddy.

Pierce: For you, what is the best part of the book’s success?

Maggie: Now that millions of readers are aware of the book, it has a real chance of bringing this neglected history to light. For me, that’s the best part. Of course, another great part is my new financial freedom. Let’s not underestimate that!

(Pierce, Liam, and Colin chuckle.)

Colin: What do you hope will be the result of millions of people learning about Irish slavery?

Maggie: My hope is that people will better understand the Irish, by understanding the centuries-old oppression of the Irish by the English. The bitterness caused by Cromwell’s Reign of Terror is a powerful source of Irish nationalism, and has been for more than 350 years. This was ethnic cleansing that cost Ireland roughly forty-one percent of her people. It was huge. An estimated 100,000 Irish Catholics, mostly women and children, were sold to New World sugar plantation owners. In Barbados, many of them were literally worked to death and flogged to death. They suffered horrific conditions, disease, thirst, starvation, and torture.

“The curse of Cromwell upon you” is still a popular Irish saying. To this day, Irish mothers threaten their misbehaving children with the ultimate punishment: “Cromwell’s going to get you!”

Liam: My mam used to say that to me!

Pierce: Mine as well. Maggie, how long have you been a writer?

Maggie: I began writing in journals when I was sixteen, and through the years I dabbled in it. I didn’t become a professional writer until 1983, when I graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism.

Liam: Ah, a journalist! That explains your clean economy of words.

(Maggie laughs.)

Colin: What’s next for you? We cannot wait for more of your stories!

Maggie: Right now I am in the middle of writing the sequel to Spirited Away.

(The three actors wait to hear more.)

Maggie: That’s all I’m going to say. (Grins.)

Liam: No hints?

Maggie: Sorry, anything I say will be a spoiler for those who haven’t read the first book.

Pierce: So they should get a copy and get it read.

Maggie: (chuckles) Absolutely!

Liam: How can readers find out more about you?

Maggie: I hope to have my author website finished soon. I have an Amazon author page, a Facebook author page, and can be found on Twitter. Here are the links: http://www.amazon.com/author/maggieplummer



Liam: We would love to continue, but we are already out of time. Thank you so much for coming and talking with us today.

Maggie: Thank you! This has been wonderful.

(They stop taping, are served more Irish coffee, and decide to go soak in the castle’s massive hot tub, where they can continue visiting off the record.)


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