Megan Wynne and her school of creative writing have produced a fabulous collection of short stories being sold in aid of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Paws for Story Time is written by over fifty, children, teenagers and adults who attend Megan’s classes in North County Dublin.
Megan’s aim in publishing this beautiful collection is to foster new and young Irish writers. There is a history behind Megan Wynne’s creative writing classes, which began quite by chance, and her annual collection of students’ stories has developed from humble beginnings to become something of a tradition in north County Dublin.
About eight years ago Megan was invited to speak in Deansgrange library about her journey to publication. She had a literary agent in London and it seemed as if she was about to the make the ‘Big Time’. She had been writing for a few years, and was so passionate about it that she had given up her full-time job as a school-teacher. A director of a literary consultancy, who attended the library talk that day, heard Megan speak and decided that she would make an excellent teacher of creative writing. She invited Megan to teach children on behalf of her agency. It turned out that this literary consultant was right and the classes were a great success. The following summer Megan ran her first Creative Writing Summer Camp in Ardgillan Castle, and in November 2007 she began weekly writing classes for adults and children in the Skerries Bookshop.
At the end of the first year of classes, Megan stapled together five children’s stories and held a small launch in the Skerries bookshop, where the authors signed their books for family and friends. It was such fun that the following year Megan published fifteen of her students’ stories. As there was quite a demand for these books, she decided to donate the proceeds to charity. They sold well and the following Christmas Megan published thirty-eight adult, teenage and children’s stories in one hundred and twenty booklets. The launch was held in Skerries Mills and the books sold out before everyone got there. To avoid arguments, Megan had to ration copies to the eager punters. Since then the annual book has grown in size and quality.
This is Megan’s sixth year to publish a collection and the project has become so large that Megan can no longer manage it alone. Sharon Rudden, a sales and marketing specialist, wins wonderful support from local shops and Christmas Fairs to sell the book. (In the two weeks since publication, Sharon has already sold over five hundred copies of Paws for Story Time)
Megan’s husband, Oisin, designed the cover and layout, Sally-Anne Edwards, edited the children’s stories and Hannah Rudden (age 13) created the beautiful picture on the cover. Hannah is also the winner of the 2013 Listowel Writers’ Week Short Story Competition for Youth (under 12). Hannh is not the only successful author featured in Paws for Story Time: Sarah McKenna (age 12) was short listed in the same Listowel Youth competition, Aran Keating (age 11) won the 2013 Dalkey Book Festival Four-Forty Competition, Sally-Anne Edwards won The Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Libraries Adult Short Story Competition 2012 and Jacinta Lowndes won the 2012 Irelands Own Magazine Short Story Competition (Adult Beginners). Previous students have also won and been shortlisted in national short story competitions run by Children’s Books Ireland, The Irish Times and The Irish Book Awards.
There is something extra special about this particular book, Paws for Story Time. It is dedicated to Fiona Moore (pictured above), a sixteen-year-old girl who tragically died this year. Fiona was a passionate and witty writer from Tralee who attended Megan’s writing classes for one year. Fiona needed a double lung transplant and had moved to Dublin so as to be close to the airport. Fiona’s mother, Deirdre, sat outside every writing class in case a phone call came that would mean flying Fiona to the UK for a lung transplant. Tragically that phone call never came and Fiona’s young life came to an end in May.
In dedicating this book to Fiona, Megan wants to remember Fiona and also help others become more donor aware. If more of us told our families that we would like our organs to be donated (should we die unexpectedly) people like Fiona would have a chance to live. Fiona’s father, Martin, is originally from Listowel and to mark Fiona’s first year anniversary in May 2014 a second launch of Paws for Story Time will take place at Listowel Writers’ Week. Megan will be teaching there for the first time as part of the children’s writing festival.
Paws for Story Time is written by children of seven years to adults of seventy years. It will entertain you and your family. It also has the magical knack of spurring other writers to hurriedly put pens to paper. What better present could you get? Not only will you be encouraging the next generation of writers, you will also helping us to fix Crumlin Hospital. All profits are going to Crumlin Hospital’s cardiology and oncology wards.
Paws for Story Time is available to buy from www.meganwynne.com
(c) Megan Wynne