Returning to live in Ireland after almost two decades, proved to be the inspiration for a Derry man’s new book.
‘Stone Heart’, a novel by Derry’s Peter Merrigan, is set in ancient Ireland and has An Grianan of Aileach as it’s backdrop.
Peter, a former St Peter’s High School pupil, left the city to study for a degree in writing in London.
He spent the next 19 years in London and Leeds working in marketing.
Peter said writing was something he always wanted to do and, ironically, his first job was in a publishing house.
However, the company published technical books and Peter got very little inspiration from the role.
“I always wanted to write and I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My mum insists on telling everyone that I started writing poetry when I was six. But Poetry is not my field.”
‘Stone Heart’ is the fourth novel Peter has written and self-published.
“The first three were crime thrillers, although one person described them as thrillers with heart. ‘Stone Heart’ is a massive switch in direction for me and is the culmination of years of research.”
Peter moved back to Ireland in 2016 and met his future husband within two weeks.
The inspiration for the book came during a visit they made to Grianan of Aileach.
“I always had an interest in the myths and legends of Ireland but I never really thought about writing about them because they are passed down from generation to generation.”
“I was in Grianan with my partner and the idea came. No one really knows what was there before, what it was used for or how long it has been there.”
Peter began researching the background to the ancient fort, which was restored in the 1800’s and is believed to be different to what was originally there.
‘Stone Heart’ blends Irish myth, some facts and fictional characters and other details.
“I tried to base it as much as possible in the Celtic era and make it feel real. I enjoyed writing it and editing it over a 14 month period and it was a real labour of love.”
Peter revealed ‘Stone Heart’ is the prelude to a triology and he has already started plotting the next in the series in between his work as a freelance content writer.
“The books will follow some of same characters over a 20 or 30 year period and wil be called the Trilogy of Ailigh.”
He admits he would not have written the book if he hadn’t moved back to Ireland.
“I had been away for so long it became the place where I was from. Now it is the only place I want to be and I never want to leave again. I got the inspiration for this book just by being here.”
‘Stone Heart’ is available to purchase from July 16 in paperback and there is also a limited edition hardback available.
For more information visit www.peterjmerrigan.co.uk