Feature: ‘Shattered Dreams & Scorpions at Midnight’, by S. M. Jenkin

Tales from Turkey Cover WOW Kent

Kent-based writer Miriam McGuirk has released the first book in her ‘Tales from Turkey’ Trilogy, a sweetly comic look at the rich tapestry of life in a traditional mountain village while dealing with a chronic illness. 

WOW contributor S M Jenkin went to meet her.

A good book will transport you in many ways, some by describing a place in detail, or capturing moments of humour and shared humanity. Others by sharing how a simple trip can transform your life. ‘Shattered Dreams & Scorpions at Midnight – A Search for Sanctuary’, is a new book by Miriam McGuirk, launched earlier this month. Inspired by her own journey from Ireland to Turkey, the memoir is a story of transformation, covering more than just the miles travelled.

At the age of 21, McGuirk left Ireland to work in England, determined to make the most of the opportunities that Britain offered. “I was like a hamster on the wheel, I didn’t know when to stop or how to take care of myself,” she tells me. After working for years at a punishing pace, in 1997 she collapsed and was eventually diagnosed with myalgic encephalopathy (M.E.).

Learning how to manage her condition took an unusual path, assisted in part by the introduction she received from her husband to a beautiful, traditional corner of Turkey, where they soon relocated. The slower pace of life enabled her to recoup her strength, rethink her life, and to connect with the people she lived with.

“I’m a great believer that if I can turn my life around, then anyone can”, she says. Now dividing her time between Turkey and Kent, McGuirk has at last found a healthy way to manage the demands on her time and energy.


The author at home in Turkey

Having previously published healthy living articles and short stories under her pseudonym Josie Maguire, in ‘Shattered Dreams’ McGuirk writes under her own name for the first time. A conscious decision, she believes this lets the reader connect more deeply with the work.

“You gotta do different to have different, you have to be prepared to make the changes. But as soon as you do that the floodgates will open,” she says. The first instalment in the ‘Tales from Turkey’ trilogy is a collection of short humorous stories, inspired by real-life experiences and observations, including, as a result of their traditional Turkish home, a nightly scorpion patrol – she must check very carefully under her bed!

McGuirk has long held an interest in children’s education, setting up a book swap for children in her area of Turkey, and devoting the proceeds of monies raised at the launch of ‘Shattered Dreams & Scorpions at Midnight’ in the UK to support the work of the KDCS (Kent Deaf Children’s Society). The writer was inspired by the work of the charity, and how it enriches the lives of the children involved.


Miriam McGuirk making a thank you speech at the launch. Photo credit: Jen Edwards

‘Shattered Dreams & Scorpions at Midnight – A Search for Sanctuary’, the first part of the Tales From Turkey trilogy, was launched in paperback at the Townhouse Hotel, Maidstone on 4 June and will subsequently be released in both e-book and audiobook versions.  It is hoped that part two of the trilogy will be released next year. More details about release dates and future speaking commitments are available from the Tales from Turkey website.

WOW Kent is delighted to offer a signed, first edition copy of ‘Shattered Dreams & Scorpions at Midnight’ to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, please email your name and address and a contact telephone number to competitions@wowkent.co.uk. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of June 2015.