"I stumbled into writing The Mill for Grinding Old People Young. I came across an inn of that name in a history of Belfast and realised the woman who ran it in the early 1830s, Peggy Barclay, had been prominent in the life of the town (as it was then) thirty years earlier at the time of what was known as the United Irishmen’s Rebellion. I did the thing that all of us–writers and non-writers– naturally do: I tried to imagine her journey from one stage of her life to the other, and before I knew it I was finding other fragments of story that seemed to fit with it. The only thing that made me hesitate before saying, even to myself, that this was a novel I was beginning to write was the voice. I couldn’t work out how to ‘do’ the 1830s, or rather work out how not to overdo them. In the end I adopted the model of the text where I had first read the inn’s name, which was the recollections of an elderly man looking back from the end of the century to his childhood and youth."
Glenn Patterson, in interview