Colm Herron admits that, when he first sat down to write ‘For I Have Sinned’, he had no clear idea of how it would turn out.
He says: “It was to be a coming of age story of a Derry teenager in the 1950s and how he was buffeted by family, teenage friends and enemies, unsympathetic policemen and, of course, school and church.
“I wanted to draw as much humour as I could from the most unlikely situations.
“I thought that any readers I was lucky enough to get would be in the over-50s age bracket. So, I was amazed to discover that teens and twentysomethings were the people who seemed to enjoy it most.
“Ferdia MacAnna, of the ‘Sunday Independent’, described it as a remarkable, sad and very funny piece of work which had affected him deeply. He read it three times.”
The book, says Colm, is crammed with Derry characters from the “bleak” 1950s.
“You’ll find people like Hawker Lynch and Johnny Cutthims who, it’s said, got his nickname from his insistence on cutting the pack of cards before each new game of poker for fear of being cheated.
“It also recalls Catholics and Protestants who went off to fight together as comrades in the same regiment during the First World War and often came back as enemies to each other because of the sectarian nature of the Northern Ireland state.
“It is because of this and other historical aspects of the novel that ‘For I Have Sinned’ now sits among the archives of the Tower Museum.”
“For I Have Sinned” is available from Eason’s, Foyleside, priced £3.99.