The North Coast and The beautiful Glens of Antrim are the stars of Belfast writer Colin McAlpin’s latest best selling historic romance, Santa Fe Sisters.
His sweeping epic is set in the late 1800s and takes in the Glens and the United States as suddenly impoverished Glenscullion sisters Georgina and Violet Sophia Devonshire are forced to seek a new beginning in New Mexico.
Santa Fe Sisters, from David J. Publishing, is the first of several novels by the award-winning Northern Ireland journalist/broadcaster to be published locally having been initially released across the Atlantic.
“I have had seven novels – three crime and four historical – published in the USA but recently I changed my agent after finding it difficult dealing long-distance and was fortunate to find the excellent Belfast-based David J. Publishing.
“I have many great friends in the Glens of Antrim, particularly long-time fellow journalist and author, Denis O’Hara, and I always wanted to set a story in the area. I also know New Mexico and the lovely city of Santa Fe so it became the perfect combination,” said Colin.
Santa Fe Sisters is a carefully researched story featuring Colin’s customary strong female characters – “I love strong women and somehow all my books feature them as the central characters” – and takes in the Glens’ mining, railway and shipping past.
“Glenscullion is, of course, a composite of all the beautiful villages strung along the Coast Road and I enjoyed researching the history of the mining and the railways that once thrived throughout the region,” he added.
Since the trains connected the Glens with the rest of Ulster Colin has set parts of the story in Ballymena, Coleraine, Portrush, Londonderry and on Rathlin.
“It’s obviously essential to get the historical and geographical background as accurate as possible, so if you’re writing about New Mexico it helps to know what it actually looks like,” Colin explains, “It also helps a writer to have a great researcher to add more information and I am fortunate to have an old friend, Angela Lubbock, on hand to keep me right ... she can spot the smallest inaccuracy and sort it out.
“It was an interesting time in American history, just after the bloody Civil War when the country was expanding and growing.
“We know that the Irish, particularly the Ulster-Scots, contributed greatly to the growth but in a way I wanted to pay my tribute to the contribution made by the women. Georgina and Violet Sophia are, I hope, excellent champions for all those women.”