New book backdrops Irish famine and California gold rush

Hilary McCollum.
Hilary McCollum.

Local writer Hilary McCollum will launch her debut novel at Derry’s Playhouse this Friday (6 p.m.)

‘Golddigger’ is a gripping story of love lost and found set against the backdrops of the California goldrush and the Irish Famine.

The novel weaves together two stories about Frances Moriarty, a heartbroken young immigrant who arrives in 1840s New York on a coffin ship from Ireland.

Frances attempts to claw out a new life as one of the California ‘forty-niners’, crossing America in pursuit of gold. But she is still haunted by the life she has left behind in Ireland, falling in love for the first time until the famine devastates her community.

Rich with historic detail, ‘Golddigger’ is an absorbing coming of age story exploring events that shape America and Ireland to this day.

Hilary McCollum says: “I’m interested in exploring how people get through the difficulties that we all face at times. In Golddigger, I wanted to bring the California goldrush and Irish famine alive through the eyes of a naïve but determined young woman.

“But, more than that, I wanted to write a story of finding and then losing the love of your life. Can you get beyond the loss and find a way to live again?”

Hilary will talk about writing ‘Golddigger’ and read from the novel at its launch at The Playhouse, Artillery Street, this Friday.

The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Director of The Playhouse, Pauline Ross, says: “We are absolutely thrilled to be hosting the launch of ‘Golddigger’.

“This important novel makes visible the history of same-sex relationships in Ireland. It’s a memorable piece of storytelling.”

‘Golddigger’ is Hilary McCollum’s first novel. Her first play, ‘Life and Love: Lesbian Style’, was a critical hit at last year’s International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.