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Interviews

Daughter of the Storm by Tina Callaghan

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Tina O'Callaghan © 9 September 2019.
Posted in the Magazine ( · Children & Young Adult · Interviews ).

A writer in the eye of the publishing industry

This is a profile about a writer. The writer is me, but I’m going to talk about her behind her back, so to speak.

Tina Callaghan decided at age nine that she wanted to be a writer. She sometimes worked hard at it and sometimes thought about loneliness, music, poetry, boys, school, movie stars and dogs. (She always wanted a dog, but wasn’t allowed. Eventually, after she and her pals rescued some pups from a hole in the ground, covered over with a few planks, she was allowed to keep one. She has four now).

She did some more work, producing pages, but never finishing. She travelled to some tricky places, married, divorced, lost both parents, found love and somewhere in between all that, actually finished a novel. Wow, she thought, now I’ve made it. I’ve actually written a novel.

She gave the novel a once over and sent it to one agent, in America. She waited and waited and after months, emailed to say, um..well? He said, oh sorry, I thought I had rejected you months ago. There were tears. It was years before she cried at a rejection again though. Instead, she sent it out again. And again. And again.

There was one time and one agent. A brilliant agent, the best. She and Tina spent 15 months working on the book, changing things, improving things, turning a 100,000 word adult horror into a 70,000 YA supernatural thriller. Then the agent said she didn’t love it enough. There were tears again.

But the original book started to go out again. And again. After some time, Tina contacted a publisher, who said that she thought the story would work better as a YA novel. Lo! Tina said, here’s one I made earlier!

Following a long thread of emails and a long, twitchy Christmas, the publisher said she loved the book and Tina’s writing. With the production of a marketing plan, the money men were convinced and an offer was made. There was great excitement about the land.

The contract came and there was some stress over it, as Tina had no agent and despite years of effort and research into the industry, she didn’t know what made a contract good or bad. She was no different in this than any new writer. After some advice from friends and other writers, she asked some questions, made a couple of changes and signed the deal *insert balloons and confetti here*

Tina was now not just a writer (which she had learned to call herself as a means of promoting hope and professionalism) but a writer with a book deal from an actual real-life publisher. Yes, almost 40 years of life and learning had gone by since that first pre-teen decision to be a writer, but that didn’t matter, and doesn’t. She settled down to writing a new book while editing the first.

The first, Dark Wood Dark Water, was nominated and then shortlisted for the Teen/YA book of the year in the Irish Book Awards 2018. She bought a sparkly dress. The second, Daughter of the Storm, has just been released and Tina is working on the third.

Daughter of the Storm was easy to write (as she remembers it. (*May or may not be true.) Book three should perhaps be called Blood from a Stone, as that is how it feels. Tina, who sincerely wants to help other writers, thinks that people ought to know this, because it’s important. Writing a novel is sometimes easy. Writing a novel is mostly hard. Getting a novel published is sometimes easy and mostly hard. Sometimes, for an individual book, it is impossible. Of course, she says, you must never give up, even if you have to try again with a different book. Never. Give. Up.

Tina says the third book will come, because it must. That is the way of things. She is a professional writer now. It is sometimes easy and often hard. It is always a dream come true.

Her days go like this. She has made enough money to sit in a bower, drafting dreams in pastel inks, taking lovely walks beside streams, in woodlands. The words flow and the acclaim flows with them. She is content.

Fiction is the truth inside the lie. Instead of the floaty days, she works full time, loads the dish washer, plays with the dogs, writes every evening after dinner when the words are flowing, and anguishes after dinner when the words are not, and she watches shows on Netflix.

She markets the book on social media and writes articles. She runs a writing group and encourages other writers. She demands that they follow their dream, because they won’t get their dream without sweating. *Some do, but don’t assume it will be you, she says, because it mostly will not be.

She has made many mistakes and learned from them. The learning is the most important part. She has made friends in the industry. She has sometimes been frustrated and cross, but she remembers that the frustrations are far outweighed by the wonder of the dream itself.

She says…write if it’s what you love to do. Submit if it’s what you want to do. Find your version of success and love every minute of it, even the hard bits. No one lives the floaty, pastel woodland life, because there are dishes to be done, dogs to be walked, the rest of Mad Men to be watched, loved ones to be loved. After all, if one lived the floaty life, there would be nothing to write about. There wouldn’t be the reminder of healed wounds to protect against future hurt. There wouldn’t be stories. Tina says the stories are what matters; the people are what matters; and the work is what matters.

I am Tina Callaghan. I am a writer. Thank you for reading my books. Believe me, it really matters. x

(c) Tina Callaghan

Tina Callaghan is a writer of speculative fiction, both for children and adults. Her stories involve elements of history, mythology and the supernatural. Her short stories have appeared alongside horror and science-fiction greats Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury and Robert Bloch.

About Daughter of the Storm:

Lia needs to find out why her father jumped from the cliff onto the Devil s Teeth rocks below. The only way to understand what happened is to go to the isolated weather-beaten island herself.

However, there s more to the island than cliffs and storms and history. It also has its close-knit people. Like Ed, a young man who s troubled and almost ready to leave; Lia s Uncle Harry and his secretive friends; heavily pregnant Becky and her worried parents Rose and Frank.

Everyone is either dreading the violent winter storms to come or, strangely, praying for them.

And then there s the Hall, the crumbling, brooding mansion that has held all of the island s secrets for centuries. It s out there, on the edge of the grey sea, and the coming storm will release all that it has hidden.

Lia, Ed and the others are trapped on the island by the storm, fighting for more than their survival. They must fight to save their immortal souls.

Order your copy online here.


Tina Callaghan is a writer of speculative fiction, both for children and adults. Her stories involve elements of history, mythology and the supernatural. Her short stories have appeared alongside horror and science-fiction greats Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury and Robert Bloch.