A former Midlands journalist went part way round the world to "find" her first novel. Graham Young reports.
It’s easy to say that everyone has a first novel in them – the hard bit is getting it out.
Even a talented, Royal Television Society gold award-winning TV journalist like Maggie Fogarty needed to find the right time and the right place.
But, when she did, there was no stopping Maggie’s urge to scratch her literary itch.
And so the year she spent in one of the world’s most famous principalities is now reflected in the title of her debut novel: My Bermuda Namesakes.
Her partner, Paul, is a digital forensics consultant, so when he got the chance to go and work in Bermuda, Maggie followed him... and got typing.
Originally from the Yardley Wood area of Birmingham, Maggie has now returned to Britain with husband Paul ready to oversee the renovation of their dream property in Cornwall.
And I wouldn’t put it past bubbly Maggie to work her way through the project by typing up another story.
“I was born in Sorrento Hospital and grew up in Moseley, Sparkbrook, Hall Green and Yardley Wood before I bought my first house in Hampton-in-Arden,” she says.
“I went to Swanshurst Girls’ School and on to the then Wolverhampton Poly.
“That was against my mother’s wishes, but I liked the course which was English with American Literature and History.
“And hey... my tutor was Howard Jacobson, who later won the Man Booker Prize in 2010 for The Finkler Question.”
Maggie’s RTS prize was for a documentary about the 30th anniversary of the Irish Pub Bombings in Birmingham.
“We looked at the impact it had on the Irish community,” says Maggie, whose mother is now in a care home after her father passed away.
“They had all kept quiet about it for so long because they just wanted to get on with life.
“Because I had an Irish background – I used to go to church and the youth club at Our Lady of Lourdes in Trittiford Road – they opened up to me.
“Now it’s hip to be Irish with the St Patrick’s Day Parade and so on.”
Maggie’s novel describes Bermuda as “an achingly pretty mid-Atlantic Ocean sub tropical island known for its pastel coloured buildings with trade mark white lime washed rooftops.
‘From space it must look like an elaborate pink, lemon and white iced celebration cake”.
But the subject beneath a place synonymous with film stars like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones is a darker story about a graphic designer trying to recover from a head injury.
Central character Josie James (JJ) has all but lost her short term memory after stepping in to the path of a motorcyclist.
After arriving on Bermuda for specialist treatment, she finds herself accused of a crime she didn’t commit.
With two other namesakes already on the island, can brain specialist Dr Silver unearth some lost short term memories to help to prove her innocence?
Maggie’s novel began life as a story short-listed in the Writers and Artists Year Book 2011 Short Story Competition.
“There are a lot more head injuries than people think, from viral problems to strokes and road accidents, which I used to make the story more dramatic,” she says.
“Because I couldn’t work as such in Bermuda, I thought I would use the time on my hands in Bermuda to realise a lifetime ambition and write a whole novel.