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Marguerite reluctantly leaves her career as a glamorous Los Angeles plastic surgeon to rescue her estranged mother who is trapped under a Taliban-like regime in their home country. Unaccustomed to such restrictions, she ends up pregnant, imprisoned, and sentenced to a stoning. If she is to survive and find her way back, she must use all her wits and strength. Her family has shrouded their past in mystery but she must find out what went down when they arrived in California as children. What did happen to the two beautiful and vulnerable refugee kids placed in the care of Uncle Mo, their larger-than-life bachelor, in his Malibu ocean house? Through tracing the storyof her family’s arrival in California she discovers a shocking secret; but it is this very secret that turns the tables and launches her mother’s daring rescue plan.
Baby Zero, is a child of our times: Caught between the fundamentalism of the East and the commercialism of the West. In a far-off land, everytime the regime changes they turn the year back to zero, as if to begin history again. Each girl in this family is born in the year zero, a time of turmoil. They are scattered across the globe, refugees in Ireland and the U.S. – but when one returns home she finds herself imprisoned.
What a incendiary, thought-provoking novel this is. It examines how women and children are crushed between the twin oppressions of eastern fundamentalism and western consumerism. And it also, like a bleak but
spiritual and haunting ballad, moves us and makes us care.
“In a world awash with the sort of low-grade, formulaic fiction that publishers think women want, Emer Martin is a beacon of hope…. If there is any justice in the world her latest novel, Baby Zero, will see her break through to the major league of literary writers and cement her reputation as one of the most exciting voices to emerge from this country in the last decade…. A prophetic and deeply moving work.”
–Books Ireland, Feb 2007
“Raven-haired writer Emer Martin is giving a lunchtime reading from her fabulous new novel, Baby Zero. Emer Martin is a brilliant writer, very much the real deal. She tells me that every single Irish review of her new book has made passing reference to Cecelia Ahern. Weird, given that Emer is to chick-lit what Shane MacGowan is to sobriety.”
- Olaf Tyaransen, Evening Herald
This, her third [novel], explores the uncertainties of the post-9/11 world, addressing the conflict between Islam and the West and the problems of immigration and assimilation through the “river within a river” that is Marguerite’s story…
Indeed Martin’s own situation – as an Irish woman married to an Iranian man – makes her uniquely placed to address such fraught issues, and this insight elevates Marguerite’s tale into a subtle exploration of the role of history and memory in the construction of identity: “You know you’re in trouble when the Iranians think you treat women badly.”
Martin delights in subverting the glib stereotypes of East and West and rejects traditional markers of nationality, identity and ethnicity in favour of a focus on individuals and the similarities between them. Viewed from this perspective, contemporary tensions are nothing more than “the same Cowboy and Indian story over and over again in different costumes, in different locations”. Baby Zero is both a convincing tale and a timely warning.
–The Irish Times, 24 February 2007
A riveting page-turner. A compelling satire on the clash of civilisations, the success of this story lies in the telling. Painted in large letters on a wall in the centre of Dublin, someone has taken the trouble to proclaim “Never forgive, never forget” not too far away, another, in even larger letters reads “Love Life”. If these slogans represent the writing on the wall of a new, multicultural Ireland, then Emer Martin’s Baby Zero offers rare insight into what they might mean.
–Brenda McNally, Sunday Tribune
“[Baby Zero] is cogent and urgent in depicting migration and dislocation as the predominant narrative of 21st-century history. Her characters are piquant and memorable; the tale is also very funny in
its portrait of Leila’s monstrous mother, Farah…[Martin's] portrait of
a world defined by the collapse of all notions of community
contains lasting strength and beauty”
–Claire Alfree, Metro (London)
Sometimes critics say a novel’s plot is great but the writing isn’t so good, or that the writing is great yet the plot is up-the-left. But this is the first time, I’m sure, that I haven’t been able to break those two things apart. There’s no light between them. They’re equally extraordinary, equally driving the momentum. Baby Zero is a literary
unit so flush, confident and unique that it should win a big fat prize, and I suspect it will. It’s as sharp and sore and dizzying as a bullet wound, and will probably stay with you for just as long. - Belfast Telegraph
Emer was part of the banshee group who terrorized New York City in the 90′s.
New review of BABY ZERO and interview with author on laurahird.com
Why is the Moon Following Me?: Long Awaited Children’s Book Uses Gravitational Pull of Fun & Adventure to Teach Early Astronomy & “Real Science”
Masterfully crafted by a unique co-operative of a scientist, illustrator and an award-winning writer, ‘Why is the Moon Following Me?’ bucks the trend of “cheap thrill” children’s fantasy fiction to instead introduce the boundless fun of astronomy. The book’s poetic verses were inspired by an experience the author witnessed as a child while driving through the dark countryside of her native Ireland, and has now been transposed into an adventure that whisks children through time and space as they meet seven great thinkers to learn about the universe around them.
For Immediate Release:
Pal Alto, CA – It’s a fact; kids ask a lot of questions. While adults can try their best to answer most of them, children’s curiosity about space and the wider universe often leaves their parents stumped for answers. In a bold move by a brave California-based writers’ co-operative, many of these questions are being addressed in ‘Why is the Moon Following Me?’ a book of short, fun and educational poems that introduce early astronomy in a way never before attempted.
The mammoth task of fusing fun with often-heavy science wasn’t easy, but the book has struck the perfect balance thanks to its eclectic team; an award-winning writer, a dedicated children’s illustrator and a Stanford-educated scientist!
Why is the Moon following me? is a series of fun, short poems for children to familiarize them with the story of early astronomy. Through the eyes of a curious child, we travel through time and encounter the discoveries of seven great thinkers from antiquity to the end of the Renaissance. Astronomy can be intimidating, even to adults, and this book is also for them, as a way to introduce their kids, and themselves, to some important key concepts.
“My family once took a long road trip when I was a kid, and as we drove through the Ireland night the moon was basking big and bright in the sky. My little sister went to sleep, woke up a few hours later and broke into hysterics. She yelled “why is the moon following me?” and, to be frank, my parents didn’t have an answer!” explains Emer Martin, the book’s author. “Few laypeople knew much about astronomy back then, but us kids still had burning questions as we looked up into the sky.”
Continuing, “Those questions still exist, and we now have some of the answers due to the advancements in technology and knowledge. However, the theories are intricate and so complicated that astronomy is barely taught to kids. What we have done is to simplify everything in a way that children and adults will understand, wrap it up into a series of compelling poetry with stunning imagery, and publish it to fill this vital gap in the market. There is no other book like this out there. Believe me I looked.”
The team’s creation has garnered a string of rave reviews. Palo Alto Elementary teacher, Valerie Sabbag, comments, “The profound questions children have are often dismissed by adults. Why is the Moon Following Me? treats their questions with respect, while drawing them in with beautiful illustrations and lyrical rhyme. This book presents the history of scientific thought in a way that is accessible to all children. It is a book that should be in every classroom because it will help lead children down a path toward ‘real’ science.”
Dr. Bernard Kress of Google Technologies believes the book has appeal beyond just children. He writes, “Wow! This is the most fun and informative book on early astronomy I’ve ever seen. Inspirational reading for kids and adults alike. This is sure to become a classic.”
‘Why is the Moon Following Me’, is published by Rawmeash, a newly founded publishing co-operative in the heart of Silicon Valley http://www.rawmeash.com It is available at the end of September as an ebook or a print book on Amazon.com or at: http://www.moonfollowing.com.
About the Team:
Suzana Tulac: Scientist - Suzana is a Scientist who was born in Varazdin, Croatia. Her PhD in Molecular Biology was a result of collaboration between Stanford University where she worked for five years and the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Zagreb. Today she is very active in her three kid’s public school teaching science and art (photography and ceramics). Over the last few years she attended many talks and workshops on History of Time and realized there was a genuine gap in fun and accessible materials on the subject for children. Currently she lives in Mountain View, California.
Magdalena Zuljevic: Illustrator - The illustrator Magdalena is also known as Magi. Born and raised in Croatia, Magdalena studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, earning a BFA in Art education. After experimenting with sculpting and oil painting she decided that illustration was her true calling. Magdalena now specializes in illustrating for the children’s market, with her work in digital media. She currently lives with her husband, two children, her parrot Cody, and her guinea pigs Tesla and Sparkle in Sunnyvale, CA. Her website is http://www.pencilfairy.com
Emer Martin: Writer - Emer is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the Middle East, and various places in the U.S. She is the founder of the publishing collective Rawmeash. http://www.emermartin.tumblr.com Her first novel Breakfast in Babylon won Book of the Year 1996 in her native Ireland. Houghton Mifflin released Breakfast in Babylon in the U.S. in 1997. More Bread Or I’ll Appear, her second novel was published internationally in 1999. Emer studied painting in New York and has had a sell-out solo show of her paintings at the Origin Gallery in Harcourt St, Dublin. Her third novel Baby Zero, was published March 2007 in the U.K and Ireland, and released globally in 2014.. She produced Irvine Welsh’s directorial debut NUTS in 2007. Emer was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. She has two young daughters and lives between the jungles of Co. Meath, Ireland and Silicon Valley, California. Her website is http://www.emermartin.com and you can follow her on twitter @emermartin.
Contact: Emer Martin / 650 862 9558 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my part in the blog hop. June Caldwell tagged me, apart from being the most entertaining person on Face Book, she has an MA in Creative Writing from QUB and studied Writing & Publishing and Journalism at BA and Postgrad level. She freelanced for the UK & Irish press for 14 years, publishing a biography of a terrorist’s moll: In Love With A Mad Dog (Gill & Macmillan, 2006). In 2012, she was shortlisted for RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story competition and took part in the public readings for the Italo-Irish Literature Exchange in Nogarole Rocca and Verona. She was also shortlisted for Over The Edge New Writer of the Year (2010 & 2011) and won Best Blog Post at the Irish Blog Awards (2011). In 2010 June was awarded an Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) bursary. She is currently working on short stories and a novel.
BLOG HOP QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
What is the working title of your next book?
The Affection of a Hag
Is Fuar Cumann Cailleach – is an old Irish expression meaning: The affection of a hag is a cold thing.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The hag is the ancient figure of the land – she stands at the edge of the known world as the ice retreats, and the first people arrive to the western shores of Ireland. Even as she is forgotten, the hag is a witness to all the changes humans bring to the land, and all they do to each other. This novel takes the history of a people from the ice age right up to gangland Dublin, and deals with contentious issues of incarceration by Church and State that are still playing out in modern Ireland.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
It’s a book now. Not a film yet. If pushed and paid, Colin Farrell would make a great Ignatius. Bad egg bad bird, as his own mammy calls the wild character that propels much of the action.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Help meets The Butcher Boy.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Maria Massie is my agent in NY and Caspian Denis is my agent in London. They are working hard to get the book to the right editor. I hate this part the most. The waiting. I have no control over this part of the process and I don’t like it.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I don’t count the years, that would terrify me. Roughly 3 years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I read Bolano’s Savage Detectives and he has about the same amount of characters I have and the narrative spans lifetimes.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I go to Cill Rialaig artist retreat in Kerry to write and paint and that’s where I met the hag. The landscape and the paintings I was doing on Sean O’Conaill’s stories kicked open a few doors in my head and broke the locks. His story of the bull was mesmerizing. A story is told about a woman who falls in love with a magical bull and pursues him into the underworld to battle the jealous hag. This tale, handed down from ancient times through recent centuries, is the thread that weaves the narrative together. Human histories are complicated; populations are replanted, homes are abandoned, children fostered, mothers put into laundries. As a result, this book does not follow a family, rather it follows those who can listen and remember the story. In a nation of talkers, it is the listeners’ who carry the story. The Native Americans believe that stories are medicine, and this story has a healing power all through the book.
Also for the part of the book where the family move East:
My father grew up in Meath on the border of the Gaeltacht area. People were resettled by the land commission from the West of Ireland and this caused great resentment. The woman who minded him, Patty was the inspiration for Mary who is the heart of the book.
In the 1930’s, a man from the land commission arrives in the most remote peninsula in the Southwest of Ireland to offer families fertile land in Meath. Abandoned by her parents, Mary O’Conaill, the eldest child is faced with the task of raising her younger siblings alone in this new place. When her brother Seamus inherits the farm, she goes into service with the Lyons family to ensure the youngest son Sean will be educated.
Sean the brilliant young priest is faced with a terrible dilemma, his wild nephew, Ignatius, is sent to St Joseph’s industrial school in Dublin where Sean is a teacher. Aware of all the horrors that go on, should he choose to stay to protect the boy, or save himself and leave? His decision has repercussions for the future generations who find themselves in a changing Ireland. Decades later Baby sets out to find Mauve for her beloved housekeeper Mary, tracking her and her daughter down to the Magdalene Laundries.
It is storylines not bloodlines that propels us through the years.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
In this novel, the contrast of two Irelands running parallel is stark. The Lyons are from a gentle country of fairy rings, blackberry picking, and friendly humorous poker evenings with the local priest; the O’Conaills find themselves at the mercy of a system in which Church and State are determined to incarcerate them for profit.
Despite the serious nature of the themes, this book reflects the Irish ability to laugh at woe, and the humour throughout is a powerful antidote to all the trouble the families find themselves in. It is a surprisingly funny tale of survival and love under a brutal system of modern day slavery that existed through the tacit compliance of a population who thought they had gained independence but were then raised to be obedient to their own spiritual and political leaders.