Caroline Doherty de Novoa grew up in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She left Ireland in 1997 as a teenager with a desperate desire to see the world. Since then she has visited nearly 60 countries. She has lived in Manchester, Madrid, Oxford, Bogotá and London.
In 2013 her first novel, Dancing with Statues, was published. Her second, The Belfast Girl, was released in 2017.
What novels and writers do you admire?
I think Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” is a masterpiece in story-telling. I love how it’s a mystery in reverse starting with the murder scene and revealing the culprits on the very first page, and then working back so the mystery is not about who did it, but why they did it. Motivation is so much more interesting than the act itself.
Another favorite is Maggie O’ Farrel’s “The Hand That First Held Mine”. For a start it’s just so beautifully written, and the characters are so well drawn. But it’s also the storytelling that I adore – the way she uses half-truths and distorted memories to build the mystery. When the big reveal comes at the end, you realise that was the only possible explanation, but she’s still managed to keep you guessing. It takes a gifted storyteller to do that.
I also like Nick Hornby. His novels are fun, but my favourite book of his is the non-fiction “Fever Pitch” – after reading that I finally started to comprehend why my husband suffered so much week in and out watching Arsenal play.
There are many more I could mention, but I’ll finish with Anne Tyler. I’ve read so many of her books and just been blown away. “Breathing Lessons” and “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” are among my favourites. And as far as I’m concerned, “The Accidental Tourist” is the example of the perfect novel.
The epigraph in Dancing with Statues is “The only truth is music.” Why did you choose that?
It's a Jack Kerouac quote. The main characters lie to each other, or tell each other half-truths throughout. But when I read the final draft, I realized that they often communicate with each other via music. Music bypasses your mind and goes straight to your emotions. So I was attracted to this idea of finding truth in music – hence the quote.
Belfast, December 1993, a baby girl goes missing. Everyone, including her teenage father, believes she has been kidnapped. Two women know different. New Yorker Janet O'Connell now has the family she's been longing for. Seventeen-year-old Emma McCourt has a plan to escape her troubled past. And the two women never expect to see one another again.