by Martha Rose Woodward
“The Price of Peace,” a novel by James Johnston, owner of Celtic Cat Publishing, has debut this week in Knoxville, Tennessee. Johnston, who speaks with a heavy Irish accent, has been a fixture in the Knoxville Writers’ Guild for several years. He has been instrumental in the careers of other writers and says that he has finally gotten around to writing his first novel.
Johnston will be signing his new book Friday, April 20, at Barnes & Noble from 6-8 p.m.
As the book begins people weary of death and destruction are seeking a future full of hope as the 1998 Peace Agreement signals the end to thirty violent years of conflict in Northern Ireland. Over 3,500 people have died and 40,000 have been injured due to the bitter fighting.
Gráinne O’Connor, a widow in her forties, believes this price is too high. 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 this site. You may then continue reading the novel to find out the jury’s decision.
The site will publish the cumulative results from the survey and provide a forum for a discussion on justice.
James B. Johnston was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and educated at Grosvenor High, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. He immigrated to Canada in 1974 and moved to the United States in 1984. He currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Ann. The Price of Peace is Johnston’s debut novel. His collection of poems, Exile: Poems of an Irish Immigrant, was published in 1997 and has been reissued in a revised and expanded edition, Exile Revisited.
Johnston writes to his fans, “I was born a Protestant in East Belfast. My wife was born a Catholic in North Belfast. Both of us lost close friends in the civil unrest; some killed in bombings, some in shootings. If our wedding day was one of the happiest days in our lives, the hardest was leaving our homeland and families in 1974.
The 1998 Peace Agreement was a major step forward in returning life in Northern Ireland to a semblance of normality. But 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.
As I read the comments of the victims, my thoughts turned to the topic of justice. Is there such a thing as justice? If so, what is it? Is justice for the living or for the dead? And out of these random thoughts, from the depths of my imagination, The Price of Peace was born.
I hope you enjoy the story as a legal thriller. I encourage you to participate in the survey, and maybe, together, we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of justice and justice systems.”
Johnston’s Book Signing Schedule:
Barnes & Noble, Knoxville, 6 - 8 pm
Southland Books, Maryville, 1 - 3 pm
Hastings Books, Maryville, 4 - 6 pm
Union Avenue Bookstore, 2 pm
: Fountain City Book Club, 10:00 am.