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Monica Strina has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl growing up in Sardinia, Italy. During a study year in Dublin, she fell in love with Ireland and decided to stay. She studied Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin and has since published several stories in literary magazines such as The Bunbury, Silver Apples, An Sionnagh and The Ogham Stone, as well as receiving two honourable mentions from Glimmer Train Press. Her short story 'The Fisherman' was awarded the Lonely Voice prize by The Irish Writers' Centre in 2010.

Monica's other obsessions include baking, painting and yoga. She is currently working on a collection of longer stories, which includes THE CASTLE ON THE TREE, and a novel.

How Monica Strina's THE CASTLE ON THE TREE came to be.

A few different elements contributed to the genesis of this story. Firstly, something that happened to a young man I knew growing up. He was more of an acquaintance than a friend, even though there was a time, in our late teens, when we became a little closer. To me he seemed the epitome of what anyone would want to be: kind, handsome, talented, a gymnastics champion, always smiling and upbeat, with a loving family and a lot of friends. That's why the news of his suicide shocked me so much. Then came Chester Bennington's death. I admire his music so much I often include his lyrics in my writing. These tragedies made me wonder about the reasons why someone who seems to 'have everything' would take their own lives; about the extreme loneliness they must feel even when surrounded by people who love them; about how we really cannot know the real reasons that push a person to take such an extreme decision; about all the commonplace comments we read or make ourselves without really understanding.

Also, one day, at a friend's, I saw an idyllic tree house and this sparked up a memory of an idea I had in Sardinia when I saw a little wooden shack in a playground. There was a tiny shelf above the one glassless window, and I fantasised about two children hiding a note there, and one of them finding it again as an adult.

As for the title, I was going to call it 'The House On The Hill' until I heard Ed Sheeran's 'The Castle On The Hill,' and then it came to me that, for the characters in this story, the little house is a fortress, a place where pain and sorrow cannot reach them.