WEST Cork was one of the main inspirations for a new book which has been described as a tour de force, written by award-winning author James Lawless.
James is originally from Dublin but spends more than half of his time living near Bantry, and says that the tranquillity of the area allows him to be at his best.
‘I guess you could say I’m a city guy with a rural heart,’ James said, speaking to The Southern Star.
His new book, Letters To Jude was published on his birthday and was 10 years in the making.
Set in Dublin, it has been described as a Joycean novel which incorporates a lot of West Cork influences.
James – who got married to a West Cork woman in Gougane Barra – has been a writer for years, starting with poetry before transitioning into the literary world of novels.
He says that, for him, writing is a condition.
‘If I don’t write I feel incomplete. It’s a compulsion, a feeling you have to get something out of your system.’
A compulsion maybe, but the peace and quiet of the West Cork countryside has become one of the ways James manages to both focus and find the inspiration needed to feed that addiction.
‘You get a feeling that you’re alive, that you’re not being pushed aside,’ he said, pointing out the frenetic surroundings of city-living.
‘Most of my insights come from wandering around the West Cork mountains, in the unhurried nature of the place.
‘The most important gift you can give to someone is your time. You don’t get that in the city.’
The countryside has always bled into his writing, with the nature of poetry lending itself to the more romanticised landscapes of rural Ireland. James describes some of his previous novels as more traditional, while his latest has leaned into more poetic tendencies – and the people of West Cork have also inspired his work.
‘You meet some great characters, it’s very exhilarating.’
Going forward James hopes to continue to find inspiration from his surroundings. Letters to Jude is available in bookshops around West Cork and on Amazon, and he says he couldn’t have done without the beautiful, calm surroundings of the countryside around Bantry.
‘I don’t know if I would have succeeded, if I would have gotten the book produced, had I not the peace and quiet of West Cork to do my writing.’