I’m a writer living in Dublin, although from Co Down originally, and after spending many years writing for both children and adults (details below) I am now writing book reviews for booksandpals.com. The reviews are also posted on amazon.com, goodreads.com and on my blog here.
When I first began to write it was in a small, cold room on a portable typewriter. I could be typing there for hours before noticing the cold, full of excitement and wonder; this was something I could do and might even be good at.
I was born in Co Down, beside the sea, (which is no surprise to anyone who has ever read my stories or poems), but my parents were from the wilds of Armagh and Fermanagh, either side of the Monaghan border. I’m a real cross-border body, with relations on both sides, on both sides. There were 13 in my mother’s family, and 11 in my father’s and they all had plenty of children – I can’t count my first cousins – but since my parents had married in Belfast and moved to Co Down we lived far away from any family, and so were displaced, and out of place, in that wee seaside town.
I’m the eldest of six girls, a fact my parents said they didn’t mind at all but I had my doubts … We were close in age and played together most of the time. Dress dolls I remember well – little books with a short story and a cut-out doll with several outfits, an early introduction to reading outside school. But better than that were the weekly comics, especially The School Friend, and especially the lead story, about three girls in a boarding school who dressed up in hooded cloaks at night and righted wrongs. And later there was Enid Blyton and Malory Towers – how I gobbled up those books. After that came Little Women and What Katy Did and Anne of Green Gables, and more besides.
School then, boarding school. And an introduction to Tolstoy and Galsworthy, and Maurice Walsh, the Kerry writer – I read every word he ever wrote. Poets too, the romantics, Shakespeare and Yeats. We learned long poems off by heart and I can still recite whole pages. And during those years I learned to enjoy writing essays – compositions, we called them. Mine were good; I often had to stand and read them out.
In my early 20s I moved to Dublin and once more, found myself a displaced person, but I’m still here anyway. During these adult years I tried my hand at poems, rhyming couplets and limericks, but it was some time later, when my children were still small and looking for stories, that I first really began to write. I discovered that, for me, the first creative push was very hard work and I would try for one page a day – but when I had a pile of pages to work on that’s when I really enjoyed myself. I could re-write and shape and polish and edit for hours.
In 1992 I had a book for children published, “The Silver Tea-Set”, which I have now updated and published online myself, re-titled, Ghosts in Trouble. A second one followed, Felix Finds Out! Around this time I joined a writers group where everyone wrote short stories so I had a go at that and was successful in that my stories won competitions and were published in magazines but I couldn’t get a publisher to look at a collection. I have now published the collection online, Woman with Doll & Other Stories, and also a poetry collection, The Red Petticoat. These poems were written over a stretch of 30 years and chart my life. All 4 books are available for download on amazon.com/amazon.co.uk and at smashwords.com.
Writing changed me. It gave me a purpose and a better sense of myself. I found that to write I had to think first and I began to read a lot of non-fiction. I don’t write so much now – except for haikus when the family is together and we are having a glass of red – the competition is fierce!
However, some time last year I began to write book reviews for an American Indie Book blog and have been writing them since. This is hugely enjoyable and generally I stick to Indie books as I know myself how difficult it is to get reviews.
Reading is still a huge part of my life. My current favourite writers are Patrick de Witt, Anne Enright and Donna Tartt. When friends are here I read bits out to them – I even ring people up sometimes and make them listen to whole paragraphs.
To finish I will just say that six years ago I wasn’t well and in the first year following treatment I did a course in Mindfullness Meditation. This course opened up for a new world for me and I am no longer displaced, but at home in my own self no matter where I am.