Bernie McGill

Books by this Author

The Butterfly Cabinet

Video

The Confession of Maddie McGlade

A haunting, unforgettable story—based on real events in late 19th-century Ireland—of two women linked by a tragic, 70-year secret: what really happened on the last day in the life of the 4-year-old daughter of an aristocratic family.

My Life in 8 Words

Author Revealed

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. Currently, I'm fond of 'Abandon your story'. It's about allowing yourself to stop writing and allowing other people to start reading your work, which is, after all, the point of the exercise.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. I'm a very good listener.

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. I'd be interested to meet Emily Davison, the English campaigner for suffragism who threw herself under the King's horse at Ascot in 1913, in protest that women did not have the vote. I'd want to ask her if she'd thought about it fully before she did it, if she was committed to dying for the cause. I'd want to know if she thought it was worth it. I'd like to know what she makes of us all today.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. Only five? Seriously? Well, for now, because of their associations as well as their stories: Van Morrison's 'In the Garden'; Elbow's 'Starlings'; The Waterboys' 'The Whole of the Moon'; Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright's 'Set the Fire to the Third Bar'; Damien Rice's 'The Blower's Daughter'

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. Installed in a little villa in Tuscany or Umbria with a self-cleaning pool, my own tomatoes growing in the garden, a hammock strung between the pines, a never-emptying bottle of prosecco in the fridge, shelves groaning with books, a free trattoria within staggering distance, and family and good friends to share it.

Author Voices

May 22, 2012

I want to tell you about a book I love. Its title is The Maiden Dinosaur and it was written by an Irish writer called Janet McNeill. I recently re-read it after a gap of about twenty years, for the Great Northern Novel Debate hosted by the John Hewitt Spring Festival. The idea of the debate is that three writers choose a novel, each with a Northern Irish connection, and pit the three against each other. My choice was up against David Park’s The Truth Commissioner, a book being championed by novelist Heather Richardson, and The Road to Ballyshannon by David Martin, selected by poet Martin Mooney. The assembled... see more

May 22, 2012

I want to tell you about a book I love. Its title is The Maiden Dinosaur and it was written by an Irish writer called Janet McNeill. I recently re-read it after a gap of about twenty years, for the Great Northern Novel Debate hosted by the John Hewitt Spring Festival. The idea of the debate is that three writers choose a novel, each with a Northern Irish connection, and pit the three against each other. My choice was up against David Park’s The Truth Commissioner, a book being championed by novelist Heather Richardson, and The Road to Ballyshannon by David Martin, selected by poet Martin Mooney. The assembled audience in the Londonderry Arms Hotel in... see more

March 26, 2012

A few days ago, I gave a talk for members of the Probus Club, Portstewart, a group of retired businessmen, on the local historical links of The Butterfly Cabinet. Since it’s a little while since I looked at the source material, I went back to refresh my memory on dates and facts, and while I was there I did a little internet investigation as well. At the time that I was researching the story, there wasn’t very much information online regarding the Montagu family or the incident that inspired the novel: the death of the young child of the family at Cromore House, Portstewart in 1892. But since then, a little more detail has come to light. After... see more

January 06, 2012

Yes it is. At least part of it is. A percentage, certainly. I’ve just come back from the Cathedral Quarter’s Out to Lunch Festival at the Black Box in Belfast where Stephen Rea, with musical backing led by Neil Martin and Colin Reid, was reading from Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. There may be better ways to spend a cold lunchtime in Belfast in January, but if there are, I (having led a sheltered life) haven’t encountered them. The venue was packed to capacity. The accompanying music was beautifully atmospheric: at turns dark and brooding, comic and upbeat and Rea’s reading was totally captivating. It’s years since I’ve read the... see more

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