Tag Archives: life as an author

Happy Tenthiversary To Us

Today, my dear people, this very day, August 12th 2022, marks TEN WHOLE YEARS since I started this crazy journey towards becoming a published author.

Ten years since I left my last paying job, where I had the comfort of being an employee, and leapt headfirst into an unknown world, a world of self-employment, uncertainty about income, uncertainty about everything – and I haven’t regretted a single moment.

Me, with my messy bookshelves, a couple of years back…

That’s not to say that it hasn’t been hard, at times. Of course it has – I’d be lying to you if I said it’s been plain sailing, all this time. I owe so much to so many, primarily my husband and immediate family, for their support and care. I started my writing journey with nothing more than some savings, a head full of ideas, and my fingers firmly crossed, and since then I’ve gained a kid, an agent who has stuck with me through good times and bad, a Literature Bursary from the Irish Arts Council, and more book deals than I can actually talk about yet (sorry…)

And I’ve been published. Several times, now. Which is a sentence that never gets stale.

Being published, and then staying published (an infinitely harder thing to do, by the way) is the single biggest privilege of my life. I have worked hard for it, and I continue to work hard for it, but as well as that I’ve been immensely lucky, and I’ve had a lot of people in my corner. I want to thank my agent, Polly Nolan, and all the editors I’ve had the privilege of working with so far – Ruth Bennett, Katie Jennings, Ella Whiddett, Melissa Gitari, Melanie Nolan, Caroline Green and Sarah Thomas – and every member of every publishing team who has handled any of my stories. Everyone – cover artists and designers, proofreaders and copy editors, rights people, PR bods, sales and marketing teams and so many more – have such vital roles to play in getting books into readers’ hands, and authors owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.

When I started my writing journey, I knew it would be tough. I knew I would face rejection; I knew the mountains I’d climb would be steep. All that has proven true. I didn’t anticipate some of the mental challenges that came along with publication – much like parenthood, I don’t think anything can prepare you for it besides going through it yourself. Being published, for me, has been a process of attempting to unlearn lessons I spent my life, up to that point, learning by heart: lessons like ‘you’re not good enough’. Lessons like ‘nobody cares what you think’. Lessons like ‘who do you think you are, to try to tell the stories in your heart?’

Those lessons were hard ones, and unlearning them – a lifelong process, which I haven’t mastered yet – is harder still.

My writing career hasn’t propelled me to the heights of fame, nor has it brought me riches or stability of income. But none of that matters. I know that I can walk into a bookshop and, most of the time, I’ll find my stories on a shelf. I know that children all over the country, and further afield, have read my books and that they mean something to them. I know that I have more stories to come.

But the greatest feeling of all is knowing that some of you have been here all this time, through the last decade, following my journey and cheering me on, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Happy Tenthiversary to Us. And thank you all for every comment, every cheer, every read of my blog posts, every time you’ve purchased or read or recommended my books or my writing – it all means so much.

And don’t forget to stay tuned… because believe me, there’s more to come.

World Book Day 2020!

One of the greatest joys about being a children’s author is getting to meet actual children – and when you get the chance to meet some actual children on World Book Day, it’s a hundred times more wonderful. Yesterday, which was World Book Day in Ireland and the UK, I was lucky enough to do just that!

My books – plus my travelling companion, Violet the Tarantula!

I’m lucky that the town I live in, while small, has a wonderful primary school. It’s large and airy, full of light and the sound of laughter and learning, and the walls are covered with art and projects and wonderful messages about self-belief, love, caring for others, and looking after our planet. It’s a fantastic place to spend a day, and when you get the chance to visit and talk about books, things just go super-nova cool.

I was asked to give three author assemblies, or author talks, yesterday, so bright and early I packed up my things – including Violet the tarantula – and off we went. We brought some slides with pictures of my childhood, the books I loved when I was little, and the stories which inspired me to write books of my own, and which helped me to be the person I am today. I got the chance to talk about my own stories, The Eye of the North and The Star-Spun Web, and I was delighted to answer brilliant questions like ‘what’s your favourite mythical beast?’ ‘Will you name a character in your next book after me?’ and ‘What age are you really?’ We talked about books, and stories, and creativity, and (because the school’s theme for World Book Week was ‘Curious Creatures and Wild Minds’) we had some brilliant chats about mythical monsters, amazing animals, and how to grow and nurture our wild, creative minds.

There’s nothing better than looking into an audience of young faces and seeing their bright eyes as they think about ways in which to find and encourage their own spark of unique brilliance, and it’s a privilege to be able to tell them all how they are all rocketships of potential, just waiting to do amazing things. ‘Each of you will change the world,’ I like to say, at the end of my author talk, ‘and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with your wild and precious spark, the unique fire that’s in each of your hearts.’

So – what are you going to do today with your wild and precious spark? Go forth and be a Storyfinder, soaking up the world around you, and see how many stories you can create!

Thank you to the staff, teachers, and pupils of St Mary’s Primary School for making me so welcome yesterday, and for giving me a glimpse into the creative wonder that is their school. I hope to come back again very soon!