Cookstown author’s first crime fiction novel a work of ‘fascination’

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Cookstown-born journalist and author Roisin McAuley has put pen to paper for her first ever crime novel, the fifth of her literary exploits.

Born out of her fascination with bog people, the book was to be set in Ireland at first, but after visiting Denmark, Roisin said she thought the country was a perfect fit for the story she wanted to tell.

And after reading Bogman, this reporter would be inclined to agree.

“My husband has Danish relatives and my agent has Danish relatives, and I had originally thought of the book in Ireland,” she explained.

With its to-the-point prose, you can’t help but feel you are sitting down to watch an episode of The Bridge.

The story was both gripping, dark and yet heart warming.

And for all its twists and turns - and a few dead bodies - it leaves you feeling satisfied in the end.

At first you wonder if Bogman died of natural causes thousands of years before, allowing Roisin to take the reader on an archeological journey that leads to a murder enquiry, intermingled with a tale of environmental activism and the optimism of youth.

“I am interested in looking at clashes between opposing forces,” Roisin said. “I don’t want to write books about issues... I start out with a character.”

And this book has plenty.

Asked how she came to writing from an enviable career as a newspaper woman and broadcaster, Roisin said: “I think I was always a story teller.

“I can remember when I was small and people would come into the house and start to tell a story and I would immediately think they’re telling it in the wrong order.

“I always thought that at some stage I might write fiction, but I thought I would write a play or a screen play. I never thought I’d write a novel... as I didn’t think I could do the distance.”

We would disagree.

After decades working at various broadsheets, the BBC and Channel 4 across the world, the veteran reporter told the Mail she decided to go to work on her first book after getting married - with a little bit of a nudge from her husband.

“He said, ‘look, why don’t you... do it while I’m working?’”

And that’s how it all started.

As for her inspiration for the book, she reeled off a string of unrelated events.

“A bog. The 60s... an environmental row that went on down in Mullaghmore and then there was the Donald Trump thing going on in Scotland.

“I always had that Seamus Heaney poem in my mind, Tollund Man, and in the ‘70s I had read that book that Seamus Heaney had been inspired by, called the Bog People,” she added.

“It’s a classic really by a Danish archaeologist, about the discovery of these bodies in the bog and I had been fascinated by them ever since.”