My interest in writing materialized at the age of ten while growing up in Tipperary Town. I am sure I must have been considered a weird child with my fascination of buildings, and what made people tick. I was the local cinema’s number one fan, attending three matinees a week – my imagination running wild as I lapped up the unfolding dramas on the big screen. It was around this time that I wrote my first play.
I took the boat to England and got a job copy typing in Fleet Street for the Daily Mirror. I went to night school and got degrees in Art and English. I have always had a yen for learning new things. I even got a Teachers Diploma in IT a few years ago.
Somewhere along the line my writing went on the back burner until 1996 while living back home again I founded the Phoenix Theatre. The purpose was to train a group of unemployed people into all the aspects of theatre work, painting sets, props, costumes and acting. During this time I had two plays broadcast by RTE Radio Drama entitled ‘A Season in Farmleigh’ and ‘Looks like James Dean.’ When I sent in my first play ‘A Season in Farmleigh’ my husband at the time said he would eat his hat if RTE took on the play – needless to say he became my ex. Never being one for giving support was one of the reasons for the breakdown.
While attending Edgeworthstown Literary Festival I heard a voice behind me asking ‘Is this the queue for a wee cup of tea?’ This group of writers from Banbridge Co. Down and my group quickly became friends. With the help of Co-Operation North the Banbridge group came down to Tipperary and performed a drama for us during our own Phoenix Theatre Literary Festival. Deirdre Purcell kindly participated as a guest speaker and the local council arranged a Civic Reception for our visitors. In turn we were invited up to Banbridge and we too got a civic reception up there. It was a great experience for us all and friendships were forged as a result of our literary endeavours.
When a job came up in Clonmel teaching Art to people with mental health issues I took it on as I needed to make some kind of living. I spent thirteen years there and on retirement I started to write again. Two books were the result of my new found spare time.
The first one – Murder in a Sleepy Town is a sort of a midsummer murder story. I am a huge fan of Barnaby in the TV series.
The second book Home is Here – is a different approach. It’s more about characters living in a small town spanning from the fifties to the eighties, with most of the inhabitants harbouring their dark secrets and family heartbreaks.
After trying only about two agents to take on the books I became impatient and decided to self-publish with Lulu. I enlisted the help of my son who designed the covers and uploaded to Lulu for me.
The photo on Home is Here is of myself and my English cousin Kathleen Body who was on holidays at our house during the fifties.
Both of my books are available on Amazon.co.uk. Self publishing will not make you a fortune, in fact it will not make you anything much, and there’s nothing wrong with that if all you want is for your book to bring enjoyment to whoever reads it. The good thing about print on demand is you don’t have to buy hundreds of books; you can buy a few copies at a time to sell in the local bookshop or other small outlets. Seeing my book in print has been a good learning experience for me. It is far easier when reading your published book to see the chinks, and things that need changing, then you can revise by uploading again, until you are satisfied with the final copy.
I am presently working on my third novel entitled Dish Town. I am into the concept of setting my novels in small towns possibly because I live in one, and all the memories of the old buildings, establishments and people that impressed me so much as a child are still very much alive in my head and have staring roles in my books.
However, when I’ve finished this book I shall make an all out effort to get an agent interested, I would love to see a publishing house taking on my book. Seeing it on the shelves in the big stores would mean giving it a wider readership, and that would be satisfaction enough for me.
So that’s my goal for this year, but I’d want to get a move on, as I’m in my sixties now – with ‘the sixties’ still in my head. It was a fascinating time, and I sometimes think – I’m still back there.