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Tell Your Own Story

Orla Broderick: On The Polari First Book Prize Longlist

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Article by Orla Broderick ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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Seaweed excites me.

At 4am the world is still. This is my perfect time to sit and breathe. Cross-legged, back straight, hands on knees I inhale till I fill my belly. I imagine drinking in light from the top of my head. I empty my brain of rubbish.

Images of nature flash before me. I see rolls of seaweed stretched like smiley faces all along the length of the beach. I wonder how the sea thought to separate them into colour and form. I see the white tail of the rabbit I made the eagle drop. I see his angry eyes as his dinner flees.

I wait on the floor, listening, feeling, remembering, clearing. Then, I pick up a pen and I write. Sometimes I decorate pages and pages with very pretty prose. Sometimes I get lucky and write something good. My inspiration is nature but I am blessed (or cursed) with a very fertile imagination and a genetic disposition for drama.

Literature, poetry and music were all vital components of my childhood in Wicklow town. My uncle read me Oscar Wilde when I was seven – I cried. My aunt is the poet Moya Cannon. My sister sang opera. My father re-wrote George Orwell’s Animal farm for my primary school to perform on stage – I was Snowball.

I started writing stories as a child. I tried to write plays and tried even harder to coax my sisters into starring in them. At school I only ever paid attention in Irish and English classes and remember vividly the day Mrs. O’Shea read Advent by Patrick Kavanagh for the first time. I wrote to The Irish Times when I was a teenager – and they published my whinings. I wrote poetry through my twenties – terrible angst ridden things that I still read when I need a laugh. Hot Press was the first to ever publish one of my short stories, it was a story about a country boy and it won a competition.

The January Flower Orla BroderickMy first novel, The January Flower, was borne of post natal depression and a bizarre series of events. One day a wonderful lady called Maggie Manvelle came to my home and read the very first draft of the very first chapter. She contacted Peter Urpeth from HI-Arts (now Emergents). I got lucky. He happened to like my style and called me for interview. I dyed my black hair bright pink so he would think I was arty. Pete encouraged, cajoled, taught and nagged me into completing a novel. He then edited it and sent me on a self-publishing course.

I became an independent author/publisher in May 2012. I launched The January Flower in December 2012, in the living room of my home, with mulled wine and chocolate truffles I made myself. I have given readings, spoken at workshops, developed a Literary Salon. My short stories have been published by PenPusher and Chroma and now The January Flower is on the longlist for the Polari First Book prize and I am deliriously happy.

I aim to travel to Ireland in October 2013 for a series of readings and workshops in Wicklow (Bridge Street Books have stocked The January Flower since it was first available) and in Waterford (The Book Centre) and in Cork (location to be confirmed).

My favourite book review came by email from my father. You can read it on my website www.councilhousepublishing.com

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I am 42 years of age. I like to describe myself as a single mother who cleans holiday cottages in order to keep her kid in shoes, but I know there is more, much more to me (to all of us) than the sum total of what we have to do to pay the bills.

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