Transporting the grit of real-life legal drama into fiction

‘In the Court’s Hands’ is the story of a stenographer who witnesses something unsettling just before a juror is found dead, and a “race against time to find the truth”

 Fiona Gartland with husband Paul and children Rose, Katie, Jeni and Paul jnr at the launch of her book, In the Court’s Hands,  in Hodges and Figgis on Dawson Street, Dublin on Friday.  Photograph: Donall Farmer for The Irish Times

Fiona Gartland with husband Paul and children Rose, Katie, Jeni and Paul jnr at the launch of her book, In the Court’s Hands, in Hodges and Figgis on Dawson Street, Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Donall Farmer for The Irish Times

 

There is an adage in literature that one should “write what you know”, an approach exemplified by Fiona Gartland, who launched her debut novel yesterday.

An Irish Times journalist of 13 years, Ms Gartland spent much of that time covering high-profile court cases.

In recent times, she transported the grit of real life legal affairs to the pages of fiction. In the Court’s Hands is a story built around a trial and its “world of deception, danger and blackmail”.

Launching the book, RTÉ’s courts reporter Vivienne Traynor noted Ms Gartland’s “razor sharp” reporting throughout the years and her keen eye for observation.

“It goes without saying that her work as a court reporter in many similar trials in real life lends an accuracy to her fictional writing which is crucial to maintaining a credible story line and believable characters,” she said.

In the Court’s Hands is the story of a stenographer who witnesses something unsettling just before a juror is found dead, and a “race against time to find the truth”.

Thanking her publisher Poolbeg Press and her family for support throughout the writing process – her husband built her a writing room in the garden – Ms Gartland explained her main character had been inspired by conversations with a real stenographer, another telling crossover in the lives of fact and fiction.

A debut novelist, Ms Gartland has been shortlisted for the Francis McManus Short Story competition on six occasions.