BOOKS: James’ novel is inspired by the leisurely pace of West Cork

WEST Cork has been one of the main inspirations for a new book that has been described as a tour de force, written by award-winning author James Lawless.

James is originally from Dublin but spends more than half his time living near Bantry, and says the tranquility of the area allows him to be at his best.

“I guess you could say I’m a city guy with a rural heart,” James said, speaking to The Southern Star.

His new book, Letters to Jude was released on his birthday and ran for 10 years.

Set in Dublin, it has been described as a Joycian romance that incorporates many influences from West Cork.

James – who married a West Cork woman in Gougane Barra – has been a writer for years, starting with poetry before moving into the literary world of novels.

He says that, for him, writing is a condition.

“If I don’t write, I feel incomplete. It’s a compulsion, a feeling that you have to get something out of your system.

A constraint perhaps, but the peace and quiet of the West Cork countryside has become one of the ways James manages to both focus and find the inspiration to feed that addiction.

“You feel like you’re alive, not left out,” he said, pointing to the frenetic environment of city life.

“Most of my ideas come from my wanderings in the mountains of West Cork, in the tranquil nature of the place.

“The most important gift you can give someone is your time. We don’t have that in town.

The countryside has always bled into his writing, the nature of poetry lending itself to the most romantic landscapes of rural Ireland. James describes some of his earlier novels as more traditional, while his latest leaned into more poetic tendencies – and the people of West Cork also inspired his work.

“You meet great characters, it’s very exhilarating.”

Going forward, James hopes to continue to draw inspiration from his surroundings. Letters to Jude is available from bookstores around West Cork and on Amazon, and he says he couldn’t have done without the beautiful, quiet countryside setting around Bantry.

“I don’t know if I would have succeeded, if I would have had the book produced, if I hadn’t had the peace and quiet of West Cork to write.”

Irene B. Bowles