Jane Estes's story outline and Ireland research

Local author raises fund for Ireland research trip

In fifth grade, a teacher asked Jane Estes what she wanted to be when she grew up. The first idea that popped into Jane’s mind was “writer.” But it took a few decades before she put pen to paper.

When her dad died in 2013, Jane was struck by the physical exhaustion she felt from grieving. It made her question how people deal with grief and sorrow both individually and culturally. That question moved her to write a book tentatively titled The Knowledge of Sorrow, about a woman dealing with her grief after her father’s death. She is drawn to Ireland when someone from her father’s past sends a condolence letter.

Jane wanted to set the plot in and around a 200-year-old house in Ireland. She took to the Internet and found her inspiration in the luxury Irish manor Lisdonagh House in Headford, County Galway, Ireland. She researched the manor and area as much as possible from her home in Georgetown, but she knew that she would need to make a trip to Ireland for the details that would “make the story come alive.”

Jane came close to funding her trip through a grant application but came in second place. Then, a friend encouraged her to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise travel money, an idea she had never considered. She started a campaign with a goal to raise $5,500 for a two-week research trip. Backers received gifts such as “a month of Irish charm” that included an acknowledgment in the book as well as a photo of Irish scenery delivered by email each morning for a month.

Jane Estes

Jane expected that friends and family might contribute. But to her surprise, strangers, some from other countries, made pledges because, as she put it, “sometimes creative people need angels” to help them complete their work. Jane achieved 104% of her goal with the help of 81 backers.

In March 2017, she left for Ireland armed with a list of research goals and a calendar full of interviews with professors, librarians, historians, and other experts. For two weeks she stayed in a 200-year-old thatch cottage in Spiddal, County Galway, soaking up the local culture. The locals greeted Jane with open arms, sharing their stories and suggesting people she should meet. They answered all her questions and provided the details she needs to finish her manuscript.

And in an instance in which life imitated art, the trip provided the opportunity for Jane to explore her own grief and sorrow. “Even though my father’s death was not a surprise,” she says, “I was shocked at the physicality of grief and how it manifests in the body. I wanted to write about a character who was in a quagmire. And I wanted to see her get out of it. So exploring the character’s grief and writing about it became part of the cathartic process for me.”

Jane is thankful to everyone that has helped as she brings her book to fruition. Once it’s completed, she will seek representation with a literary agent and begin the publishing process.

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