Hello, and welcome to my Web Page. I feel I should tell you a little about me, simply because little bits of my past and of my experiences keep slipping into my books.
I was born in Dublin and had an idyllic early childhood growing up on a farm in County Sligo. It was war time, and there was no electricity on the farm, so I grew up with candles and oil lamps. Because of the war there was no fuel for a tractor, so the farm work was done with horses. Later, when I came to write Katie’s War, which is about the Irish Civil War, I found that I could write from my own childhood experiences.
Yep! That’s me in the hat.
After Sligo I was taken to live in England, where I went to school. My schooldays were a bit of a struggle, because I was dyslexic and in those days people didn’t know how to help. I remember day-dreaming a lot, imagining the stories that I could not yet read. When I did learn to read, I plunged straight into boys’ adventures, from Biggles to Ballantyne. Perhaps it was these adventure stories that encouraged me, on leaving school, to join a mountain rescue team in Scotland, where I found the same sort of excitement that I now find in writing.
After Scotland I came back to Ireland and studied geology at Trinity College Dublin. I was then lucky enough to spend a year doing geological research in Kenya. This was a real adventure; we were given a map, the keys of a Landover, a tent, and an African helper. Years later, when I came to write The Cinnamon Tree, which is about a young African girl who steps on a landmine, I modelled Yola’s family on the families that had befriended us in Kenya. After this I joined the Geological Survey of Ireland, and travelled throughout the country looking at rocks. It was while working in the slate quarries near Killaloe that I realised that these dark chasms were the perfect place to set a story, and later used these quarries when I came to write Katie’s War.
As I became more desk-bound I began writing adult short stories that no one wanted to publish. Then, one Christmas eve, our kitten escaped and climbed onto the high wall about our garden, and I decided, quite unnecessarily, to rescue it. When my valiant efforts resulted in my stepping backwards into our pond, I wrote it up as a Christmas story. It was then that I discovered that I what I really liked doing was write for young people, and began to write full-time as soon as I retired from the Geological Survey.
Because my books are mostly based on real happenings I do quite a lot of research. Most of my research is done is done in the library or on the internet, but it is also an excuse to travel, just at get a feel for the places I want to write about. When I found that my Kenyan experience was not enough for me to tackle the landmines issue, I went to Angola to see mines being cleared. For Wings over Delft, I naturally had travel to Holland, to visit Delft, and to search for places that Louise could have known. Wherever I go, I take photographs, so I have included a number of these in the Galleries I link to the Book Summaries, and to the notes About the books; which may be of interest to teachers and librarians.
CONTACT ME If you want to contact me about writing or my books you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
SCHOOL AND LIBRARY VISITS If you would like to arrange a School or Library visit email me at email@example.com or contact the Writers in Schools scheme organised by Poetry Ireland at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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