East Sussex crime writer returns home with latest book

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Eastbourne-based crime and thriller writer Sheila Bugler returns home to her native Ireland with her latest book Dark Road Home.

“This is my tenth novel and it's the first one that I have set in Ireland,” Sheila says. “I just couldn't get it right before. I'm not sure why. It just felt very personal to be writing about Ireland and I was very scared of getting it wrong. I haven't lived in Ireland for so long. I've been out of Ireland for more than 30 years. I lived in Ireland for less time than I've been away from Ireland. But I still feel very, very deeply Irish. I still feel like I'm a stranger in this country in some ways even though I've lived here for 30 years. But I think I was just now ready to write about Ireland and I've had this idea for this book for a long time.”

Sheila grew up in Co Galway but her father came from Ennis, Co Clare. And it was there, in Lahinch, that Sheila spent all of her childhood and teenage summers – and it is here that she sets the book. Her fictional town of Dungarry may well be made up in name but it is very much rooted in a real place.

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In the book, two decades after leaving Ireland, Leah Ryan is back. She knows she won't get a welcome reception in her hometown of Dungarry, but she's finally ready to face up to the events that forced her to leave as a teenager.

Sheila Bugler author photo (credit Justin Griffiths-Williams)Sheila Bugler author photo (credit Justin Griffiths-Williams)
Sheila Bugler author photo (credit Justin Griffiths-Williams)

But, on arriving home, another tragedy awaits. Her first love Eamon Longeran has been found brutally murdered. At first, Eamon’s murder appears unrelated to Leah’s past. But in a small town like Dungarry, everything is connected and everyone has secrets…

“It is a book about running away and she has come back to face up to the events in her past that caused her to run away. She is very anxious about coming back. She lives in Sydney and works as a corporate lawyer. She's very independently well off and she is a professional woman. She's very glamorous and she is very carefully put together. She's very, very conscious about what she eats and what she does but she is all of these things because she is very scared about losing control as she did all those years ago in Ireland – because when she lost control it led to a lot of consequences.

“She didn't mean to stay away for 18 years but the longer she stayed away, the more she found she couldn't come back. But she spent 18 years with the guilt of running away. But now she feels she needs to go back.

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“So it is a book about running away but the other key to the book is how things look differently when you're an adult to the way they did when you were a teenager.”

Sheila suspects she may well find herself writing about Ireland again at some point but her next book will be set in Manchester “partly because it is a city I know. I wanted to set a story in a modern eco development type estate and Manchester seemed like a very good place to set it.”