Into the Grey first grew out of a simple, scary prospect. Imagine sleeping in a strange bunk bed in a strange house. Imagine waking in the middle of the night to realise that there was someone in the bed above– the bed you knew had been empty when you went to sleep. Imagine if that someone began to speak as if they knew you. Would you answer back?
This was the beginning of what became a very complicated story indeed. One in which I not only scared the pants off myself, but also explored the ideas of identity and self awareness and loss. The idea of looking into your own face and not knowing who you are is a theme that runs strongly throughout this story – not knowing who you are without the network of love and support you’re used to, or the possessions that you had decided defined you. Not knowing who you are because you see yourself one way, while history has decided to portray you another. Physically not knowing who you are due to the ravages of time or disease.
And then of course, there is bravery. The bravery of one brother trying to save another. Of one woman battling to maintain the dignity of another. Of an old man standing up to the world’s idea of what he is or has been. And physical bravery, the courage to step up and shout out and cross over into something terrifying so that another person will not suffer the way you have suffered.
I loved these characters, Pat and Dom, Francis and Laurence, James and Cheryl and Olive and Dave. They were absolutely real to me. As was the Skerries of my childhood and that house – the house with the bunk bed, the rust spotted mirror, the tangled garden, the twisted apple trees, the ghosts of wars long fought and still active – all real.
Many thanks to the CBI Book Awards for including it on the shortlist.
The Children’s Books Ireland Book Awards 2012 will take place on May 28th.
Click here for more information on Into the Grey.