I’m a writer. I write short stories. I write novels as well. I started writing in 2016.
Mother-in-law >>Watch video>>
In October 2013, my mother-in-law got very sick; she actually got pancreatic cancer. It was a complete shock to the system, it brought our world down. We went and lived with her. She passed away in September 2014 so it was quite quick.
I learned a lot from my mother-in-law through the cancer and living with her. It was actually amazing. She was doing meditation. She was listening to self-help people. She really looked after her well-being towards the end of her life.
When she passed away, we moved on as you do and you’re always thinking about her; I even think about her now. I’m 36 now and I’m with my wife since I was 18 so my mother-in-law was actually a friend as well. She was some laugh, really cracking, really good fun. She was only 52 when she died, so young.
Pat Divilly >>Watch video>>
I love films and I love reading crime fiction but I never really thought about writing. We moved on after my mother-in-law passed away and I felt… an empty feeling, an emptiness. I was like, “There’s something I should be doing that I’m not doing”. I didn’t know what it was so I was looking online and I saw this guy called Pat Divilly. He’s a gym guy, a motivating guy. I don’t know if he’d like me calling him that but that’s how I see Pat.
I drove to Galway and I stayed in a B&B the night before this seminar, Finding Yourself or Finding Who You Are… I can’t even remember the title. I went for health, I went for fitness, I went for “I’m gonna go back to the gym”, “I’m gonna do this”. There were all these fitness people there. There was a girl beside me, I think she was a swimmer for Ireland or something.
When Pat said, “What do you want to do with your life? What do you think is important?” I just got my pen, I’m not sure who wrote it, I wrote it obviously, I wrote, “I want to write.” I was like, “I don’t know where that came from”. I never asked myself, “What do you want to be doing?” It was funny, I was turning to these fitness people saying, “I want to write”.
I drove back from Galway that night and there was a feeling that I’ve never really had before. It wasn’t in my head, it was like a feeling down in my heart, not to get too lovey dovey about it but it was really down in my heart and my stomach. It was a pounding to write. Pat said, “After this, you have to go with that feeling.” What I did was I booked a creative writer’s beginners course. It was with Olive O’Brien. It was so much fun, I was just enjoying it, six sessions.
Writing stuff >>Watch video>>
I was writing stuff about going to watch Dublin playing and being on Hill 16 and going with my Dad. Memories started to come back and I was like, “God I remember the summer and walking down to the Hill with my Dad and that was so cool and all the Dubs singing”.
I finished that course and there was another. The next one was Intermediate Level and there was a lovely woman called Eileen Casey there. Eileen made me then get off the surface-level. That was harder and I started thinking about stuff that you don’t really want people to know or that you don’t want to talk about. My first ever published piece came from that course. It was called Halloween Cider. 80% of it was me in that story and 20% is a fictional character. It’s about going off drinking when you’re 14 or 15 with your bag of cider and how the night can go from there. It was a lovely piece but I didn’t look after my well-being or my health writing that.
My diet started to slip. My diet was actually quite good before this. The more that I was creating, I was thinking, “Well this is how you get the results, you have to be extreme”. I completely got rid of exercise. I was just writing constantly and thinking about it and living in my head.
Makes you sigh
I developed my writing. From there I went onto a course in Maynooth University, a certificate in creative writing with John MacKenna. John was fantastic.
My Mam used to own a post office in Dublin city centre and the stuff I saw in that post office… there’s definitely a memoir, there’s something in there, I know there is. I used to spend a lot of my summers out the back writing or drawing when I was only about six or seven. I remember I wanted to do a non-fiction piece on that and I wanted to speak from the post office point of view looking at the child writing. John was like, “Hmm, don’t know. Think about something that makes you go, ‘Oh’, something that makes you sigh”. That’s one thing that really helped me. You know when something in your head makes you sigh? That’s something you could write about. So I did that and that got published.
Taken a look at myself >>Watch video>>
I know it’s such a cliché but there really does need to be a balance. Only in the last year I’ve probably taken a look at myself. “Maybe don’t write tonight, maybe go for that walk instead. Maybe the walk is important and not the writing. Maybe the writing needs to be left aside.”
I’ve got back into reading my fitness books, I went to a local trainer. I’ve brought myself out of that rut and I won’t go back. I can’t go back. I can do the writing, but at the same time I don’t have to do the 12 hours. Balance is very important.
A real inspiration >>Watch video>>
I find when I’m on the right path I meet these people. I met probably one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life, Sarah Webb. She’s a children’s writer. I probably never met a more kind human-being than Sarah. I went to her course, “Writing for Children”, in the Irish Writers Centre. I saw her there and she was putting on a child’s voice in front of all these adults and acting as she was reading the book. I was like, “Oh my god, she’s just being herself. This is how you have to be. She doesn’t care what people think at all.” I’ve never met anyone quite like Sarah and she’s written like 40+ books or something like that. She’s a real inspiration to me.
Getting joy >>Watch video>>
This is what I’d say as a writer, “I’m going to keep writing. If someone wants to take it on, fantastic and if they don’t, that’s OK as well”. It’s about getting joy. That’s what life is about, it’s about joy. Not putting pressure on yourself.
Pressure for me brings anxiety, pressure for me makes me nervous. “Oh I have to get published by the time I’m X age”. That just puts pressure on and then. when I write on the page, it just becomes muck, it becomes nothing. It becomes bad writing. Relaxed Kevin, free Kevin, this-is-gonna-be-OK-Kevin, produces good writing.
Writing community on Twitter >>Watch video>>
When you’re writing, you’re sitting in a room with the door closed, creating. You’re on your own. It’s lonely. It’s not as if you can say, “Hey come ‘ere. Take a look at this paragraph.” You’re not really showing people. That’s why the writing community on Twitter is so big because everyone is sharing their stuff and asking how you are getting on. You open up your smartphone and there are other people here who are sitting on their own, writing. It’s a very positive thing.
I love Young Adult Thriller Crime. I’m like, “That’s me, that’s my passion”, but other people are sharing different books. You get out of your comfort zone. I read the best book of my life. It’s called Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession and it’s amazing. It’s a book that I would never ever read ever in my life. That has got the biggest cult following on Twitter.
Rónán shares loads of books from Translated Fiction so I’ve read a couple of recommendations from him and bloggers as well. You can learn a little bit too because there are agents there as well who say, “This is what I want when a writer sends me material.” Oh my god, this is free? This is all free. It’s amazing that it’s all free. It’s an amazing tool.
You use #WritingCommunity or #AmWriting . Take a picture of what you’re reading at the moment. Put yourself out there. You’ll meet different people and you learn a lot about what’s in at the moment and what’s selling. It’s a great avenue.
Mentors >>Watch video>>
Dja know what’s really helped me? Mentors. Mentors are fantastic. I played Gaelic football for St. Vincent’s GAA there in Marino. I played for about 24 years. I started when I was six and I stopped when I was about 30.
I had a guy called Tony Diamond who was a mentor and we had a team. We were useless, we weren’t great. It was under 11s. He took us over. He said to us, “I believe in this team. If yous win the Féile All Ireland in the year 2000 [which was about three years later] I’m gonna bring you all to Disneyland, Paris.” Now this is an All-Ireland competition. This is the pinnacle. We were getting hammered every week in Dublin. We trained for three years, four or five times a week and we won it in Croke Park. It was the most surreal experience.
I actually wrote him a letter about two or three years ago thanking him and I knew that he was very grateful when he got it. If you’ve ever had a mentor when you were younger or someone who really inspired you, write them a hand-written letter – not an email, not a phone call, not a WhatsApp, send them a hand-written letter and wait until you see the reaction and how you feel because that stays with you. It stays with me now and I know it stays with him.
I Lied for You
I think I’ve got something special with the book I’m writing. Not a very Irish thing to say. We like to bring ourselves down usually. It’s been an absolute joy to write. It’s twisty. I get excited when I write it. I’m in a good place with it at the moment. The working title is “I Lied For You” but that could change. There’s a true crime podcast, TikTok is involved in it, influencer couples, romance, how we portray ourselves on social media, the aftermath of when something truly terrible happens and how many people it affects. The book’s theme is trust: in the unknown, ourselves, and the wider world. I’ve really enjoyed writing it and if it doesn’t get published, that’s OK but on Culture Night I pitched it to one of Ireland’s leading Young Adult publishers and they asked for more. It would be a dream to see it on the shelf.
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