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Prolific Ida Linehan Young releases A Secret Close to Home

Ida Linehan Young reads an excerpt from her new novel A Secret Close to Home, published by Flanker Press, at the official book launch earlier this month at the Kiwanis Club in Kelligrews. The book tells a story of struggle in outport Newfoundland made all the more difficult by hidden identities, chance encounters, and murder. Chad Feehan photo

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Secret Close to Home tells a story of struggle in outport Newfoundland made all the more difficult by hidden identities, chance encounters, and murder.
Young man Jimmy Bailor is left to fend for himself near Newfoundland’s rugged coastline with little in the way of supplies and skills.

Bailor stumbles across a small family of women in Juniper Tickle after a group of men were arrested for the murder of the crew of a schooner owned by Bailor’s father.

In addition to putting a strain on the group’s survival, his true identity is soon revealed, forcing him to face the realities of his situation.

Inspired by true events, it is the basis of Ida Linehan Young’s eighth book. Young said it was the easiest experience she’s had writing a book so far, taking just six months from start to finish. Most of her previous work comprises a four book series of interconnected stories also in the genre of historical Newfoundland fiction, namely Being Mary Ro, The Promise, The Liars, and The Stolen Ones.

“This was probably by far the easiest to write and the easiest to get out because I didn’t have to connect it to anything else, which was the hard part,” said Young, who grew up in North Harbour, S.M.B., but now lives in CBS.

Much of A Secret Close to Home was developed at a Go and Write retreat in Clifden, Ireland and the Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre near Inverness, Scotland, where Young was able to tap into the mindset necessary for writing historical fiction set in old time Newfoundland.

At Moniack Mhor, Young stayed in an old farmhouse out in the country, a quaint setting where the peace, quiet, and natural setting contributed to her creativity.
Acclaimed authors Carys Bray, Wyl Menmuir, and Sarah Franklin also made appearances at the Scottish retreat.

“It was a beautiful, creative space. It was all about writing and the comradery of writers,” Young said. “Where I write historical fiction it was the proper place for it… It felt kind of off-grid.”

Young wanted to give her readers something different to read while remaining within the genre for which she is known.

“I wanted it to be different enough and real enough that people can get a good take on what life was like back then,” she said. “If a story is relatable, if you tell it right, you can make people feel for the characters and feel a kinship with the characters.”

She also wanted to focus on the important role women had in these very real scenarios of old. The daring, dangerous escapades of men are often mentioned in Newfoundland literature, but in A Secret Close to Home, she highlights an often-forgotten half of the population.

“The women also had to work really hard,” said Young. “They had the family, the house, they’d make the fish, they’d do so much and still get through.”

Even with the fresh release of her latest book, Young isn’t taking any time off from her craft. She has a number of stories in different genres in the works, including a fictionalized account of the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit’s activities overseas in World War II.

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