by Martha Rose Woodward
James Johnston, local writer and owner of Celtic Cat Publishing, was the guest speaker for the Northside Kiwanis Club’s noon meeting at the Foundry on May 9. Johnston told the club members about his book, The Price of Peace, a novel about the effects of the 1998 Peace Agreement signed in Northern Ireland.
James B. Johnston was born a Protestant in East Belfast, Northern Ireland and educated at Grosvenor High, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. In 1972, he married a Catholic from North Belfast and immigrated to Canada in 1974. He eventually moved his family to the United States in 1984 where he was employed by Kimberly Clark. He currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Ann.
Johnston said both he and his wife saw the harsh realities of the on-going battle between the Protestants and the Catholics. He said that the 1998 Peace Agreement was a major step forward in returning life in Northern Ireland to a semblance of normality.
With these thoughts in mind, Johnston began to write the book that begins as the Irish, who are weary of death and destruction, are seeking a future full of hope. Although the 1998 Peace Agreement signals the end to thirty violent years of conflict over 3,500 people have died and 40,000 have been injured due to the bitter fighting. “But,” Johnston said, “ as I read the terms of the Agreement, my heart ached for the victims of the conflict. In July 2000, all of the prisoners sentenced for terrorist crimes were released. For some of the victims, this had to be the hardest day of the peace process.”
The main character in the book, Gráinne O’Connor, a widow in her forties, believes the price she has to pay is too high when she sees those who killed her family members set free. In her search for justice, she forms an unlikely alliance that ultimately leads to her arrest. Her subsequent trial sets the stage for the novel’s riveting examination of justice and the role justice plays in the pursuit of peace.
Twelve jurors decide Gráinne’s fate, but by the end of chapter 15 you, the reader, have all the evidence required to make your own judgment. You are encouraged to communicate your verdict by completing the brief survey on a web site. You may then continue reading the novel to find out the jury’s decision.
For more information go to :www.celticcatpublishing.com/
Johnston’s book signing tour:
: Panera Bread, Turkey Creek, 9 - 11 am
: Panera Bread, Bearden, 9 - 11 am
: Panera Bread, Oak Ridge, 9 - 11 am
: Fountain City Book Club, 10:00 am.