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Carson McKenna began writing ‘Misercordias’ on her 28th birthday, though the story had been distilling for a long time. When she did the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2015, she was inspired by the personal legends that each distillery held. This bourbon elixir had a rich, textured history that ran a curious parallel to American history. She began to imagine two rival distilleries who had the misfortune of being neighbors. Obviously, the question of how they became enemies was very quickly begged. The first thing Carson knew was that they were Irish (as is she). The next thing she knew was that they had once been friends. Their rich history and soured nostalgia would make for a wound that never properly scabbed. When she threw in a Romeo-Juliet story, things got really interesting!
Carson has known she was a writer since she was little, though at various points in her life it was an inconvenient truth. In her twenties, she tried a bunch of different jobs (chiefly in sales, though she did have a gig as an office assistant that resulted in her untimely firing). She has lived most of her life in New York, apart from her 24th year, which was spent in southeastern France. She retains a decent command of French (“near-native fluency” according to her LinkedIn), which is threaded throughout ‘Misercordias.’
When drafting the story, Carson did not always know where Jack’s famous treasure was buried. One day, it came to her as she sat at a café drinking cold brew and worrying about the rent. She was so excited, she called her sister-in-law, Lila, who remains one of three people on Earth who knows where X marks the spot. Lila, ever the clever lass, encouraged her to make ‘Misercordias’ into a series, and to not give the entire treasure away up front. Very soon, the secondary plots began flowing in. Carson realized that each of the Foleys and Walshes had a storyline very much worth shining a light on. She conceptualized a quadrilogy with dovetailing and interwoven narratives, on a timeline of past and present. The series will follow Jack, Clara, Deirdre, Ulysses, Wilkie and Sully, though the predominant storylines will belong to their more youthful descendants. She fiercely adores her characters, because each of them has the soul of someone she loves. She imagines this series will be her magnum opus, and keep her busy for the next ten years.
“Everyone who has read it so far has asked when it’s going to be made into a movie!” she laughs, “Though I’m not sure which actress could embody Blaise’s fire and femininity. It needs to be just the right fit.” She adds that Blaise and Johnny aren’t as much in Book 2, Domini. “Domini will be her cousin Zabana and Aunt Kennedy’s story. And two Walshes will spring to the forefront.”
Carson is currently writing 'Domini' at her mother’s home in upstate New York. She takes semi-hourly breaks for coffee refills and Instagram scrolling, but endeavors to get it written in a year.
Secrets, treasures and much more. This is a book you may want to read.
At times it was hard for me to follow it, and at other times I flew through it.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.