Arts Officer for North Down Borough Council Paula Clamp talks about her debut novel and the inspiration behind it. “I got the idea for my debut novel Standing in a Hammock while I was sitting feeding my newborn baby in the early hours of the morning and looking out of the window at the comings and goings of the suburban world outside. My chi...
Arts Officer for North Down Borough Council Paula Clamp talks about her debut novel and the inspiration behind it. “I got the idea for my debut novel Standing in a Hammock while I was sitting feeding my newborn baby in the early hours of the morning and looking out of the window at the comings and goings of the suburban world outside. My children are also the inspiration behind writing this novel. When I tell my 3 year old that if she works hard enough and gives it a go she can be whatever she wants when she grows up, I started to think that I better put my money where my mouth is. Of course, she wants to be either a cleaner in Tesco or a princess. You know, we all look out the windows of our houses and make massive assumptions about our neighbours. I thought it would be interesting to look at ordinary lives and the way that they are not always ordinary or how we think they are.” With a very busy life working, writing and running a home time is precious but when Paula wants to give the muse a well-earned rest she plays volleyball. She has played for the last 15 years and has enjoyed considerable success earning a place on the Northern Ireland women’s national team. For 5 years she was administrator of the Aspects Festival of Contemporary Irish Literature, Bangor. She has owned a 35-year-old VW Beetle for the past thirteen years and this beetle was the inspiration for Paula’s second critically acclaimed novel Beetle Mania. Many of the stories in Beetle Mania are based on real-life events drawn from the fraught relationship with her car; such as the time he broke down on the motorway during rush hour. Because of where the car ground to a halt, the Police had to close all four lanes of the M2 outbound from Belfast in order to get Merlin towed across to the hard shoulder on the other side. The AA man discovered a beetle (the small, six-legged-kind), firmly lodged in the fuel filter. 'Beetle stops beetle stops Motorway!' was the heading in the paper the next morning. For a long time, especially in the winter months, Merlin was threatened with the scrap yard until about eighteen months ago, when Merlin, once again, had one foot in the scrap-yard, Paula’s view of him changed forever. One evening, Paula got a message from her husband that her baby daughter had taken seriously ill and had been rushed to hospital. She was distraught and could only think of getting to the hospital as quickly as possible. She looked at her old Beetle...'It's up to you' she said. Not only did he get them to the hospital, but also he moved more effortlessly than ever before. In fact, he flew! When her baby was safely stabilised she went back to the casualty front door and her abandoned Beetle and made him a promise that she would never part with him.
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