Research, Google Earth and Guinness Cakes

TGWL final coverTHE GIRL WHO LIED is published today and I couldn’t write a book set in Ireland without  acknowledging the country or a nod to my mother-in-law, Monica, who hailed from County Cork, but sadly passed away 18 months ago.

When I was writing The Girl Who Lied, I regularly referred back to how Monica would say things so that the dialogue sounded as authentic as possible. My husband has a large family in and around the Cork area, so conjuring up their accents and dialect was also an important part of the writing process. I also picked the brains of a few Irish authors I know to check details, such as, the education system and colloquial terms for the Irish Gardai as I would hate any little slips to take the reader out of the story. Of course, it’s here where I say any mistakes are entirely mine.

My other vital piece of research came in the form of Google Earth, where I could happily roam the Irish coast and surrounding areas to give my fictional village of Rossway a realistic feel. My mother-in-law’s father was from Kinsale and I’ve seen a photograph of the cottage where they lived. It was this that gave me the inspiration for the old croft which appears in The Girl Who Lied.

Keeping on the Irish theme, coincidently it was my youngest daughter’s First Holy Communion last weekend. I know Monica would have loved to have been there and in her honour, I made chocolate Guinness cakes for the adults, together with some little non-alcoholic cupcakes for the children.  I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe for the Guinness cakes which you can find here. I don’t profess to being a contender for the Great British Bake Off, but I was pleased with the results and everyone said how nice they were. I’m pretty sure no-one had their fingers crossed!

guinness cakes

French Friday


I’m a big lover of France and all things French,  I even managed to get myself a French surname. 🙂


I am planning to write a book set partially in France, so I have begun to gather bits and pieces together to inspire and inform me.  I thought I would share some of my French research each month.

Serent is a lovely rural town in Southern Brittany. This will be the location for the part of my book which is set in the early 40’s during the German occupation.

church serent 2
Serent, Morbihan

Our holiday cottage is approximately 2 miles from Serent and we have spent many a happy holiday there.  It is still very much a rural and farming area. The cottage is over 150 years old and would probably have belonged to a local farm worker.  Originally, there would have been an earth floor so livestock could be brought in at night for shelter. The iron rings used for tethering the animals to are still embedded in the interior wall of the cottage. I’m pleased to report that a travertine stone floor now replaces the earth one and there is not a goat in sight! I am using the cottage in my book but may employ my artistic licence and change it slightly – I need an attic which the real one doesn’t have.

christmas hayley 088
This rustic red is very typical of the area

A le mois prochain!