DonegalWoman.ie Woman’s Words writer Sharon Thompson has a novel coming out!
There is much excitement for the release of Sharon Thompson’s ‘The Abandoned’ by leading digital publishers, Bloodhound Books UK on 25th January. You can pre-order ‘The Abandoned’ here: The Abandoned – amazon.co.uk
Set against the backdrop of Ireland in the 1950’s The Abandoned tells the story of one woman’s fight for survival and her journey into the underbelly of a dangerous criminal world.
Ahead of the release, Sharon tells Donegal Woman what we can expect from her debut novel:
‘The Abandoned’ is crime fiction?
Yes, my novel is a grittier read than my Woman’s Words column – that’s for sure! It is a dark tale of an unmarried Irish woman’s clash with the emerging criminal underworld of 1950s Dublin.
A female lead character then?
Definitely. I like to write about strong women and to me Peggy Bowden has always had a strong voice.
She sat on my keyboard and in my head and insisted I write her story. Peggy is a backstreet abortionist and brothel owner in 1950s Dublin, so it is a historical, crime novel with a powerful woman at the helm and I’m excited about it. I’m also told it’s got dark humour in it and I’m glad of that.
Gosh, where did the inspiration for the book come from?
In researching 1950s women with criminal records, Peggy evolved from many of the life-stories I read. Peggy just appeared in the words and she led me through how I thought these many women might have lived.
She evolved from an initial idea of – what if an unmarried woman wanted to make a living and life for herself. In those days, women had to give up their jobs if they married in Ireland, so I wondered what profession they might have and how the more feisty of them might have tried to hold onto their independence.
Peggy of course, took on the church and society’s norms and she paid for that, so I wanted to explore her life. I hope the reader enjoys her story.
Will men like this book?
I’m hopeful that men will find it a great read. Advance copies of my book have been sent out and many have said they’ve told their male friends and partners that they should buy The Abandoned. This is encouraging.
I’d love to hear from any reader of The Abandoned and I’d appreciate if they left me a review on Amazon or Goodreads etc.
Where can we get our hands on The Abandoned?
Bloodhound Books UK are a leading digital publisher of best-selling crime and thrillers, so The Abandoned is available as a kindle/ebook or paperback print on demand. You can pre-order it here:
I’m also signing paperback copies in Moville, Farren’s Newsagents on 25th Jan and At Doherty’s Supervalu in Carndonagh on 26th Jan 6.30-7:30 pm. Signed copies will be available in these bookshops too and also in Liber Bookshop in Sligo.
I’m having an online virtual launch on our trending tweet-chat #WritersWise on 25th from 9-10 pm.
All are welcome. Details will be also on my website www.sharontwriter.com
Can’t wait until January 25th to read The Abandoned? Here’s an extract to tide you over:
Warning: This extract contains content of an adult nature
I hear the familiar clip of our best punter’s shoes on the tiles inside the door.
There’s a man with him and he’s hovering above all of us. He’s a massive bulk of a man by anyone’s standards.
‘This is the Big Lad. We call him Tiny. He works for me.’
I smile. This beast has no teeth and is grinning.
‘Russian or summat he is, not a word of English but understands enough to do.’
‘Off a ship?’
I should know not to ask the Professor too many questions but he answers me with, ‘Molly about?’
‘She is. And waiting on you.’
‘Tiny will wait in the kitchen.’ He points up the stairs. ‘Usual room?’
Those thin legs in their expensive stripy suit leap a few steps at a time. It’s unlike him to show excitement – he usually pretends he’s above the rest of us and lacks any emotion other than anger.
‘So how do you like workin’ for himself?’ I ask the big fella, thinking if I speak slowly he might get what I’m saying. A gummy smile greets me and there’s food stuck in the flaps of red weeping flesh.
‘Teeth?’ I motion to my mouth and hit my front tooth with my nail.
He makes a fist and launches it towards his own jaw. Sure enough, there are bruises on the underside of his chin that make his thick neck look colourful.
‘Oh.’ I raise my eyebrows and decide it’s definitely potato in the gaps I can see. ‘Tea?’
His bulky frame nearly fills the hallway as he ambles to the kitchen. The smell of him is odd but not unpleasant and there’s something nice about the way he waits to be told to sit. There is nothing to say and he isn’t fond of my tea. The way his large nose wrinkles makes me laugh. The silence is terrible for a chatty bird like me, so I leave Tiny in the kitchen.
I need a stroll. The air in the house seems stale and although Dublin’s chimneys don’t worry about my head or lungs, I think the air outside will do me good.
The day of course, doesn’t know what kind of a day it is. Summer time that is deeply grey and mizzling with an odd good wetting skiff of rain. People always have a place to go, don’t they? Flitting over the footpaths, rushing to somewhere or other, caring nothing for the poor fecker huddled in the doorway next to the pub. It’s not often I take the time to think of the hoards that pass our door every day. Not often I take the time to catch the eye of a passing gentleman who bobs his head and holds his hat to greet me.
Molly will be flat on her back by now letting that weasel inside her. It isn’t good for the soul to have men do what they like to us. I manage to avoid it and yet I do miss the feel of a man on top of me. I find I long for someone to want me. It’s seldom that men want a whore for a chat and a stroll. It’s hard for us to shake the title. Yet a man can call once a week – once a frigging day and be a beaut of a man. The injustice makes me sick. Some of them come just up the street from their wives and ask for it with little shame. Sometimes the bastards even look for a discount.
Men like the Professor are rare. Boyos that can actually bring more than a cock to our lives. The Professor is dangerous. He’s called the Professor because he stole or forged some paper from Trinity College to make out he was educated.
Tess mentioned, ‘His father’s a grocer. He’s disgusted with him. He’s a bad son of a bitch involved in anything shady this side of the Liffey. Kills and maims his own men, knocked bigger more important men down to get where he is today. He’s been top of the tree about these parts longer than most.’
He had taken a shine to Molly and ironically followed her home from Mass. Soon as I laid eyes on the weasel with his signature trilby hat I’d known him as the one everyone feared.
He’d sat on in the parlour saying, ‘All about here owe me money for… protection. No one mentioned you girls.’
I’d been told he would sooner or later find us and luckily, he wasn’t averse to my simple plan.
‘Molly for free once a fortnight – if you look after us.’
‘Once a week at least.’
He jumped up and held my face in one of his slimy hands and said, ‘No one says no to me.’
Through gritted teeth I said, ‘It’s up to Molly.’
He’d flung me from him and Molly had looked at him from head to toe, like he was a prize bullock. Walking around him like a man does to a beast at a fair or a man does to a woman. I loved her so much for that. Loved the way she managed to say nothing but treat him like an animal.
‘Once a fortnight and I get presents.’ She looked well pleased with her arrangement. Her red hair bounced as she tossed herself on the couch, he grinned and sat next to her.
‘All the presents in the world for you, Molly. And if you’re good, I’ll pay you as well. Time is money after all.’ He rubbed his thin moustache down with his fingers and slicked back his hair. ‘You girls will have no bother if people know I come here.’
He’d been right. We never really have any trouble. Even the Gardaí don’t come knocking unless they want a girl too. The peace he brings is grand but as usual there’s a price to everything: the guilt I have for one thing.
‘He likes her innocence,’ Tess said. ‘Some of them say she’s like having a virgin all the time. Think she’s like a child with nice breasts.’
‘For fuck sake.’
I had thought it terrible until I thought of Mary-Ann at home who’d been sent away for mentioning that Father Lavelle’s curate had liked to do things to her. ‘Why would anyone want a child?’
But men like the Professor can have whatever they want and there are no priests to destroy the likes of him.
When there were complaints about my black eyes years ago he (the husband) had purred, ‘Something for the church.’ The priest had stuffed the bundles into his cassock and almost pissed himself with excitement – over my fucking money.
The bench is a little damp but my skirt is thick so I sit to watch a few children kicking a football. By rights I should’ve had a few of them by now but thankfully my body doesn’t seem to want to make any.
If I could expand my business there would be hope of me making something of myself. Moving more upmarket and getting better clients. Rich, paying boyos like the Professor would be good for us. Men like him have property or know people who have good places all over the city. Women like me need to be tough. I’m out of prison for a while now, so I’m stronger, ready to be the Peggy Bowden with fancy clothes and a car again.
I flick my hair out from under my collar and pretend I’m in my long gone MG, leaning back letting the air into my scalp at the back of my neck, feeling my hair blowing in the breeze on the open road just like it used to do.
‘Want more, Peggy,’ Mammy used to say. ‘Work hard and always want more. Not more than you should have, don’t want too much.’
Visit Sharon Thompson’s website on sharontwriter.com
Sharon is the co-founder of #WritersWise a trending, writers’ tweet-chat (www.writerswise1.wordpress.com).
Find Sharon on Twitter at @sharontwriter