Who am I? Well, if you’ve read the short ‘About’ section then you’ll already know a little. For those of you who haven’t, I have spent most of my life living in a small town in West Cork, Ireland called Clonakilty.
I went to school there and after I finished, I moved up to Dublin. I attended University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest university with around 32,000 students, to study English and Classics. I recently graduated from that and will continue my studies by undertaking an MA in Classics with a focus on Ancient Greek literature and mythology.
So that’s the boring stuff taken care of. Onto my writing history.
I’ve been writing since I was fifteen, focusing on Middle Grade fantasy i.e. fantasy for 8-12 year olds. I remember when I was around twelve I said to someone that I could probably write a book and that maybe I should give it a go. They said, “You’re too young” and I did something utterly stupid. I listened.
I started writing in the summer when I was fifteen. I’m not totally sure why I did, I just did. One of the reasons could have been because there was a lack of books in the market that interested me. Another could have been down to boredom. That story was about an adult detective in London who was on the trail of a serial killer. I think I made it around 28,000 words in and stopped. The story was going nowhere. It was terrible. Awful. Atrocious. Brutal. And that was GREAT because it gave me experience.
The next summer I wrote and completed my first manuscript, coming in at over 82,000 words. Again it was awful. The plot made no sense and the characters just fell out of the sky (literally in some cases!). I edited it and did everything I could to make it presentable and submitted it to agents. Rejections all round.
From there I completed three more manuscripts, each clocking in somewhere between 55,000-65,000 words. I submitted two of them to agents and again, everyone rejected me. I’m not quite sure what the exact total is, but it must amount to over sixty by now. The quickest I ever received was after a day. That isn’t the easiest thing to take, but ultimately I just had to ignore it and get on with what I was doing.
Then I had a new idea. Something that excited me and felt fresh. At this point I was attending UCD. I didn’t have much time to write the story but I thought about it a lot. In December 2014, I saw an advertisement for an Online Writing for Children’s Course with Curtis Brown Creative, a very prestigious writing school based in London. I knew this was an amazing opportunity and couldn’t afford to let it pass.
After I finished my Christmas exams, I returned home and wrote furiously. I had to submit the first three thousand words of my book and a synopsis. I was accepted onto the course led by tutor Catherine Johnson, along with fourteen other students. So I was feeling pretty good about myself. I thought my work was solid. After all, some of these people had been working on their novels for years. I’d been properly working on mine for two weeks. So that meant there was something special about my writing, right? Nope, and as I came to realise, my opening chapter was pretty poor. And by pretty poor I mean it really sucked. I had to completely strip it down and turn it into something new.
Now I’ve just finished that course and am working on my fifth novel, hoping that this one gets published. People say to me that I’m young and that I shouldn’t worry, “It will happen eventually”, and I might be a little impatient here, but I’ve been doing this for six years now and feel ready. After the course I’m lot more confident and comfortable with my writing. I’m sure I have a good idea and a solid story and while I realise there is a lot of work to do in terms of actually finishing it and then editing and reediting and polishing and everything else in between, I am really hopeful this time. Of course, if it doesn’t happen with this book I keep trying and trying and trying until I get it right.
In the words of the War Doctor. “Never give up. Never give in.”