The Paula Maguire series is set in a fictional border town in Northern Ireland.
Roughly translated, the name Ballyterrin means ‘border town’, I just made that up myself from the Irish.
And I really wanted to write about this setting because when I was growing up in Northern Ireland there was a physical border, if you wanted to cross into the south of Ireland you had to go through army check points quite regularly, and they would take you out of the car, search your boot and so on. It was quite threatening.
But now there is no physical border and you just drive and you suddenly realise that you’re in another country because the road signs are in Irish and the roads are also slightly worse because there is a bit of a difference.
So I really was interested in that kind of area where there is this imaginary border running through things.
But also the wider sense, the idea that people live so close together but there are all these imaginary borders between them, all these imaginary separations really.
Some of those are still physical, a lot of them are in people’s minds in Northern Ireland, so it’s a very interesting place to write about because it’s changed so much even just in my lifetime.