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Tell Your Own Story

Look How Big the Sky Is by Emily Nagle

Article by Emily Nagle ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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Look How Big the Sky Is is a YA novel follow the story of a 17-year-old KJ Brown, who embarks on a road trip around Ireland to try and find closure with the family he left behind.

The story began with my nineteen-year-old self dreaming of escape; I would spend my days cooped up reading books and playing video games based in huge cities on the other side of the globe and in places I’d never been before, and listening to stories from people who have travelled all over the world. I have always loved the childlike excitement that comes with holidays, adventure, the desire to make memories that would be born in serendipitous, silly moments.

Look How Big the Sky Is was born of this longing- the longing to make any small thing a journey and a chance to make memories. I would dream of taking off- to be in a campervan with my family and closest friends, following random roads, deciding things on the spur of the moment and just being free. Writing has always been freedom to me, but with this novel I really got to live out that fantasy and longing through the characters. And in some strange, therapeutic way, I’d gone on this adventure with them.

The trio in the novel, KJ, Mitchell, and Elle, had been in my head for about a year before the story was ever written. I knew I wanted to fit them into a story- any story- because I just loved them and their dynamic so much, and when I found I was writing myself out of my small town and out into the rest of Ireland, I knew the trio should be the ones to come along. KJ was always going to be the hero of the story; I needed him to be the complete opposite to me. At 17, he has run away from home, crossing Ireland in a few days to get away from his dysfunctional family; he has lost faith in love and family. I wanted KJ to become wrapped up in adventure, whether it’s by running away from home, disturbing secrets from his own family’s past, or the road trip he embarks on to find quiet closure and escape the memories that haunt him.

I just needed to tell his story.

The road to publication is a long one. I’d been sending the story out looking for representation for about a year with some positive feedback but no bites. I had actually given up on the story, resorting not to send it out anymore, until my parents insisted I keep searching, believing in me more than I did! And by some ridiculous stroke of luck, I somehow managed to find an agent who loved the story as much as I did, and felt as though KJ’s voice needed to find a home in publication. It’s been about a year since I found my wonderful agent, Yasmin Standen, and it still feels surreal to me.

I have learned so much in the past year; publication is not the same as it used to be. In reality, publishers don’t know if a 21-year-old girl from Ireland is worth taking on; they know next to nothing about me, and it really would take an insane amount of faith to take a huge financial risk like that. My agent had sent my story to countless publishing houses with, again, no bites.

Until she rang me one Monday morning in June 2017, and told me she’d had a brainwave; cue Amazon Publishing!

An online publishing service, where I could have my story published with the help of my agent, and have it read and reviewed by people all over the globe, including maybe other agents and possibly even publishers. It became a sort of new dream for me; the surreal idea that my book would finally be reaching dreamers like myself who just wanted to escape for a while. Being published “traditionally” is not always what every author gets straight away. Online publishing offers everything I’d ever wanted- my story and characters to find a place in the world where their voices could be heard and their stories told. And I could not be happier. My agent emailed me, after the cover was designed and the book edited, and she asked me to send on my dedication and acknowledgements. I sat at my desk crying my eyes out with just pure happiness and excitement. It was finally happening.

The road has twisted and turned, and it was such a phenomenal adventure, travelling down the path I’ve found myself on now. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, and of course that’s scary, but I have huge passion for what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am just so grateful and humbled by all the support I’ve received. The anticipation of the book’s release has been a huge mix of excitement, anxiety, hope and mostly a sort of surreal disbelief. That a story I’ve poured my heart into is driving off on a road trip of its own. I hope it’s got its seatbelt on.

(c) Emily Nagle

About Look How Big the Sky Is:

This novel encompasses the warmth of John Green with a sprinkling of DBC Pierre’s darkness.

After the murder of his father, 17 year old KJ Brown moves in with a foster family in Dublin. KJ was a witness to his brother Paudie murdering their father. Paudie is on the run from the authorities. Consequently, KJ is always looking over his shoulder, expecting his brother Paudie to turn up.

Mitch and Elle – KJ’s friends – plan a trip along the West Coast of Ireland to fulfil KJ’s wish list. The story unfolds as they travel down from Giant’s Causeway to Galway. Just as KJ begins to let his fear of Paudie go, events take an unexpected turn which none of them saw coming.

A coming of age story of friendship, family betrayal and love. Families come in all shapes and forms, sometimes in the most unlikely ways.

Order your copy online here.

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Emily Nagle lives in Ireland, where she has been writing for as long as she can remember. Emily finds inspiration by spending most of her time in a cubby, waiting for the ideas to slip unnoticed from between the pages of books and dance together between the shelves. When not writing, drawing, playing video games, or staring at the sky, Emily enjoys very long road trips, good music, rainy storms and being with dogs.
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