Swords author publishes her first novel ‘Into the Woods’

Swords author Lorraine Murphy is proof positive that persistence pays off when it comes to getting your work published.

The talented writer who grew up in Rivervale has traveled down the path of many first-time novelists by dealing with letters of disapproval from publishers and literary agents.

Not that it stunned her or dashed her ambition – Lorraine (49) is about to make a name for herself in the psychological fiction genre, as her first novel, Into the Woods, published later this month Has happened.

Advance reader copies of the book have already garnered considerable reviews.

“One person said they read it in 24 hours, which is the ultimate compliment for a writer,” Lorraine said. “I felt like when I read ‘Unraveling Oliver’ by Liz Nugent – it blew me away.

“At the time I knew I needed to write things like this; some people would be together from morning till evening.”

Without giving away too much plot, “Into the Woods” is the shocking story of a desperate mother searching for her eight-year-old daughter, Scarlett, who goes missing. Because the child is deaf, Karen is in a desperate race against time to find him, before the battery in his cochlear implant runs out – leaving him even more vulnerable and isolated.

When Scarlett goes missing from her home in rural Ireland, her mother becomes completely focused on finding her little girl. As the search intensifies, shocking secrets are revealed and Karen learns that she may have to look for answers closer to home.

Karen will do anything for her daughter – even if it means living in a dysfunctional marriage that has long been broken.

When the reason for Scarlett’s disappearance is finally clarified, Karen learns that she is living her worst nightmare, in which her daughter is in mortal danger and time is running out.

As the mother of a deaf child, Lorraine drew much of the inspiration for the book from her own life, as well as the experiences of other parents with children with special needs.

“In my book, the kid is talented enough — I wanted to make sure the story did the exact opposite of what it was capable of,” Lorraine said.

“A lot of this has come from talking to people who have children with additional needs and watching trends. Some common sense is that the baby always comes first, but this can lead to dangerous, toxic situations that can happen. It is not good for anyone involved.

“In this case, the mother’s character has been in an unhappy marriage for the sake of a child because she thinks it is the right thing to do. This is a topic that comes up again and again in the realm of parents of children with special needs. “

Lorraine explained that the batteries in cochlear implants, depending on their use, can last anything between 10 and 17 hours.

“It got me thinking: As the mother of a deaf child, what would I do if she went missing? How would I cope? If the batteries die, you can call them from the next room and they Won’t hear you. I’m coming from the point of view of my own experiences.”

Before turning her hand to writing, Lorraine had a diverse mix of careers and has worked as a software engineer, adult educator, slimming club leader, and disability campaigner. She is the co-founder of Our New Years, an advocacy group for parents and guardians of deaf or hard of hearing children.

She believes that all her previous jobs have manifested themselves in the form of ideas for various book projects.

“My first book was ‘Hangry,’ about a murder in a slimming club—a light comedy with a dark undertone,” she said.

Lorraine, a married mother of three children, found the experience of writing during lockdown – at home with the whole family – “quite challenging”.

“When people in the house need you, you feel so guilty sitting at your laptop,” she said.

After “banging at the door” for a while, Lorraine attended two free webinars run by the Irish Writers’ Center, hosted by successful novelists Liz Nugent and Joe Spain.

“I found some really interesting tips: One was to look at the books you really like and find out who the authors are representing before coming to them. I asked literary agent Marianne Gunn O’ Sent a sample of ‘Hangry’ to Connor and actually got a positive letter back.

“While they said it wasn’t what they were looking for at the time, they liked what I did – it was so encouraging it was almost as good as an acceptance letter.”

Through another writing class, Lorraine was advised to enter her work in a competition.

“That means someone has to read it – it’s a really good way to get your stuff out there if you think you have something.”

After attending a writers’ room, Lorraine came in contact with Brian Lynch from Inkbetter Books—a digital-first publisher specializing in psychological thrillers. Although ‘Hangry’ was not right for him, he asked Lorraine to offer other ideas.

“I’m always writing something or the other,” she said. “At the time I was about 60 pc through a psychological fiction story about a woman who takes her own life and left a list of five names, so I kept that as an idea. In the end, they went with what is now my first book.”

When she presented her first draft of Into the Woods, Lorraine was somewhat surprised by the initial reaction from her publishers.

“They realized I hadn’t fully maximized the potential of the story,” she recalled. “Nobody likes negative feedback – it’s like someone telling you that your kid is ugly. That said, I couldn’t disagree with a single word they said and I went back and talked the whole thing Rewrote it again. Thankfully, they loved the second draft – it was an incredible opportunity and I wasn’t going to let it go. The story editor was really helpful and called me to explain all the feedback.

“I’m in a writers’ group and I know people will pay for that kind of feedback – I’ve had that privilege.”

Lorraine, who is a Toastmasters club member, is pleased with the finished work and says having a book published is “another tick off the bucket list”.

“After the past disappointments, it’s the best feeling in the world,” she said. “I won’t change a word of the book, but I won’t read it again because I don’t believe in looking back.”

Lorraine’s ambition is to adapt her work for the big screen. She has already started her next book, the working title of which is ‘Careful What You Wish For’ – the story of a woman who has a DNA test and doesn’t get the expected results.

When asked if she sees writing as a full-time future career, Lorraine is non-committal.

“I expect from one thing to another, so we’ll have to see,” she said. “Having said that, I have about 50 million stories, so there will be no dry well when it comes to ideas.”

Into the Woods by Lorraine Murphy (published by Incubator Books) will be available to order from Amazon in paperback and digital format starting August 21.