When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.
The Story Behind Grounded Hearts
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
My father was stationed in England during WWII. Issued with a weekend pass, he decided to fly to U.S. Army base in Northern Ireland, and then visit family who lived nearby. Once there, he borrowed a bicycle and peddled across the northern border into Eire, “Free Ireland.” A few minutes into his ride, a member of Garda, the Irish National Police, stopped him. The officer told him to turn his army jacket inside out, or he’d have to arrest him as a combatant and send him to the K-Lines internment camp. My father did as directed and continued on his way without further incident, which was fortunate because 240 soldiers from both sides of the conflict faced internment in Ireland during the war.
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
For me, the second draft of a novel is the hardest part. It’s where I freeze plot points, tighten character arcs, and increase word count.
What trait do you love most about your main character?
Dutch is the sort of man who is loyal, believes in justice, and is willing to put his life on the line to protect freedom. Nan is determined and feisty.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
His amazing grace will heal a broken heart and forgiveness is freely given for the asking, and sometimes we need to face our fears to move on with our lives.
What are you working on next?
A contemporary romance set in Ireland. The Doyle sisters escape to respectability – and romance – by starting up Hudson House, a picturesque manor house located in the tiny seaside town of Ballykeeh. Their first problem is the house itself. Its potential is limitless, but the truth is, it’s a mess. Enter Sean Fitzgerald, a man who seems to be related to just about every citizen of Ballykeeh. He badly needs a job, and fixing up houses is what he does best, but both he and Abbie have faced family tragedy, and neither is especially good at compromise. The two have to come a long way before their relationship, which begins in rancor, can end in romance.
Get to Know Jeanne M. Dickson
What are your ideal writing conditions?
I need a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and classical music playing quietly in the background. Currently hooked on Yo-Yo Ma’s album, Bach: Unaccompanied Cello Suites.
If you could write in a different genre, which would you choose?
I’d like to write a thriller.
What book have you reread the most?
Besides the Bible, I don’t think there’s one in particular. There are several books on writing that I refer to often.
If you could have lunch with any literary character, who would it be and why?
P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster with Jeeves serving lunch and observations. They’d make me laugh.
Favorite first line of a book:
“On a platform by the bow of the USS Ettinger, Mary Stirling prepared supplies no one would notice unless they were missing.” By Sarah Sundin.
Do you have a go-to writing snack?
Roasted, salted macadamia nuts.
What is your favorite writing tool?
If you were trapped in a book, what fictional place would you like to explore?
Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers.
What would the title of your biography be?
If you could live a day in one of your characters’ lives, who would you choose?
I’d choose the American doctor, Juliet Mann.
Juliet is the town’s wartime substitute doctor. She’s smart, sassy, and probably a spy.
“More precious than gold. It’s called penicillin. Don’t ask how I came to have it, except to say there’s a research scientist who’s still grinning. I’ll get my bag.”