Q&A with Author Daragh Fleming

Author of Lonely Boy


Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

Mental health is important.

I think that’s as simple an answer I can give. This book reflects my own mental health, the difficulties, the lessons I’ve learned and the mistakes I’ve made. Men have always had a tough time being vulnerable and addressing their mental health problems. This book is a book about a man addressing his own mental health, hoping people won’t feel alone in their struggle, and hoping they will inspire others to talk openly about their own mental health.

Q: Is the book based on you?

Lonely Boy is a sort of memoir/narrative non-fiction hybrid where I reflect on the last ten years of my life and try to draw out lessons from some of the more difficult moments of my life. The book begins in 2012 when my best friend died of suicide, and it takes us right up to 2021 during the pandemic. It’s a book about the obstacles and challenges I faced mentally within the last decade. The book talks about what happened, what went wrong, and what I learned about my wellbeing from it all.

Q: What do you hope will come from others reading it? 

I hope the book will help readers to understand that everyone deals with some sort of battle, and that they are not alone in theirs. The book is a raw and honest take on the mental journey I’ve taken as a man. It addresses the more flawed aspects of my character and the long process of accepting them and learning to live with them. The hope is that readers will find solace that we are flawed on some level, and that it is important that we forgive ourselves for these flaws.

Q: What’s the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

Self-acceptance. Writing this book was therapeutic for me as much as I felt it would be helpful for others. The book recants a journey 0f self-reflections. It’s the story of looking at oneself in the mirror and getting to a place where you can accept all parts of yourself–both the good and the bad. That’s probably the most important message conveyed in this book.

Q: What lessons have you learned so far in your writing?

Writing for yourself is key. I think a younger me got caught up in writing what I thought other people would want to read. The work becomes flat and uninspired when you do that. Writing for yourself makes the work more real, and it that sense, it makes the work more relatable, anyway. The other lesson writing has taught me is persistence. We often give up just before we’re about to ‘make it’. Sticking with it, regardless of the failures, or the rejections or the time it takes, is always so incredibly worthwhile.

Q: Did writing this book change your life in any way?

Writing this book gave me the opportunity to resolve many things in my life which I had ignored and buried. It allowed me the space and compassion to accept myself for who I am. Lonely Boy is a reflection on some of the hardest parts of my life, and so it has changed my life by allowing me to work through these issues and use them to help other people.

Q: Advice to anyone sitting at home, saying I would like to publish a book?

If the fire is in your heart to write, then write regardless of the outcome. Write because you need to write rather than because you won’t have some arbitrary version of success. Take it a day at a time. Write when you can and never force it. You’ll know yourself that you want to write a book, and if that desire is within you then nothing on this planet will stop you. Write and write and never take the rejections personally–because the rejection will come often in the beginning. And remember above all else, you like writing! Enjoy the process as much as will enjoy the outcome.


Q&A with Author Ronan Rooney

Author of
The True Nature of Our Reality

Author Q&A

Why did you write this book?

I have always been interested in, reflected upon and studied the true nature of our reality. I have had many transpersonal experiences in my life that have awakened me to seeing reality as more than what we are led to believe is our reality.

This is a follow up to my first book The Secret Of Life which was published in 2006 when the world was a very different place to the one we have today.

From my own experience and extensive study of the subject I believe humanity is experiencing a paradigm shift in the evolution of our consciousness. This has triggered a mass awakening in many and a breakdown in many of the global social systems. While it seems that there is chaos in the world I believe it is a natural rebalancing.

The breakdown has been triggered by an imbalance in humanity’s evolution whereby we have allowed the evolution of our intellect to surpass and supersede the evolution of the other aspects of our being. The intellect is intoxicated with mental stimulus to the detriment of our mental health. This has led to the tsunami of mental health illness across the globe we are experiencing.

Our general perspective of reality is based on what is determined by our physical senses. By using the physical senses alone to reflect on our world all we perceive of is the physical which I call the phenomenal world of form and matter. We have been conditioned to view reality in this context only even though modern science as quantum physics proves there is more to it.

There is so much more to life but to recognise this necessitates a shift in our perspective.

I have been blessed to have learned from and studied with a number of inspiring people over the past 30 years. As a result I have a perspective of reality that allows for the recognition of the true majesty of “really living” as opposed to the monotony of “just getting through life”.

I wrote The True Nature of Our Reality to facilitate a shift in perspective, a rebalancing, to support those experiencing an awakening and to help others to realise the true nature of our reality and that we create it.

What surprised you the most as you researched or wrote it?

What surprised me most is how we have allowed our intellect to take over. The conditioning has been so strong that we have forgotten the truth that we know deep within if only our mind would pause to enable us to recognise it.

Moreover, the power of the intellect and the audacity of what we believe is the truth of our life and living as instructed and endorsed by social governance by way of conditioning and the media is astounding.

After extensive researching the extent of the breakdown in global systems took me by surprise. There is so much turmoil in our global systems yet they remain unquestioned as regards their validity or sustainability. There seems to be a reluctance to alter the status quo no matter how turbulent the waves are. This only strengthens the power of our conditioning whereby we are directed how to think without contemplation, reflection or personal judgement.

I found it interesting that both the stimulus for the system breakdown and the greatest challenge to global health is a conditioned corrupted perspective in thinking. What needs to be rebalanced is our intellect in line with the other aspects of our being especially the emotional and spiritual whose development and evolutionary journey have been forsaken and neglected.

What is the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

That we actually create the world through our perspectives and beliefs which have been conditioned to present us with a challenging frame of life and living very different to the truth that has been forgotten of the majesty and miracle of life.

The freedom and liberty of knowing you can change your reality by choice and that the turmoil in the world is in fact a natural rebalancing as is the turmoil in the mental health of many of us.

Having evolved physically, that we have become trapped and infatuated in the evolution of the intellect and now we are rebalancing to evolve at the level of our consciousness. We are moving from a thought provoked and created reality of consciousness to an awareness of the true nature of reality.

As a result many of us are having awakening experiences or expansions of consciousness which themselves are often triggered by a period of turmoil.

In addition we are not separate, we are all interconnected and an integral part of Universal consciousness.

Did writing this book change your life in any way?

While I was aware of many of the subjects, concepts, theories and insights that I discuss in the book it was only when I compiled them altogether that the common theme became apparent. The simplicity of what was unveiled to me was what struck me.

I realized that we are all interconnected aspects of God, that within us is the Atman or Divine Soul, then the Jiva or individualized Soul and then the outer conditioned Ego. Our purpose is to recognize that we are more than the conditioned aspects of the Ego, to peel back the layers to reveal the individual Soul (Jiva) and to express the grace of the Divine Soul (Atman) within us as an integral part of God.ui

Each of us is special and has an integral part to play in a greater plan. As such what is empowering is that we didn’t happen by chance, we have an important role to play and we participate and co-create in reality. There is great comfort in realizing that you don’t need to change the world or anyone else all you need do is change yourself to contribute to the evolution of the species.

What do you hope will come from others reading it?

I hope my readers develop a new perspective on life and living, that they will recognize their power as co-creators of the world, that they accept their true purpose to express their Authentic Self. In this way I believe they will recognize the majesty of life and embrace living as an important, unique and individualized expression of God and so live a rich and meaningful life.

Q&A with Author M.R. O’ Donnell

Author of
People in 


Q&A with Author Dr. Mary Helen Hensley,

Author of Hugh And The Manatee

Q&A with Author Sarah O’Donnell

Author of When Winnie Met Betty

Why did you write this book?

I have always been drawn to the excitement surrounding children’s fiction. When children read fiction, it is a form of escape from their worries as they delve into the fictional world and make connections with the characters. My favourite type of book when I was a child was children’s picture books. I loved connecting the words to the illustrations and exploring this new world in my imagination. Writing stories has always been a hobby of mine, and when I studied English literature in NUIGalway, my interest in writing grew stronger.

My mom and I would often browse around the children’s section of bookshops and discuss potential plots and characters we would love to see. Bringing out my own children’s picture book was always a bucket-list type of dream. It was only then when I at home, watching my own cockapoo Winnie chasing our neighboring dog Betty, that my I got the vision for my own children’s picture book. A burst of inspiration struck, and When Winnie Met Betty came to life.

What surprised you…?

As I began to write, I was surprised at how quickly my story came to life. Basing this book on my dog, I felt a strong connection to her character and could easily imagine her next move. I was surprised how nostalgic I felt while writing this book. Memories of primary school constantly crept in as I began rhyming the words on each page.

What is the most important message readers will get from it?

My hope for this book is to inspire children to hold on to their sense of adventure and put themselves out there to create lasting friendships. This is a story of bravery, where Winnie went outside of her comfort zone to find ultimate happiness.

Did writing this book change your life in any way?

The whirlwind of writing and publishing this book has far exceeded my wildest dreams. As a current postgraduate student, I have been introduced to this new industry that I have since learned so much about. I never realised how much this book would consume my life in such a fulfilling way. I feel proud and excited about the future ahead.

What do you hope will come from others reading it?

This is a book to be enjoyed by children and to be read together. I want children to feel the emotions and excitement surrounding this story, and ultimately to feel inspired to create their own memories with their friends, too.


Q&A with Author Margaret Connor

Author of My Ireland


Why did you decide to write a book?

Over the years in America, I have shared many of my stories about growing up in Ireland with my friends. They found the stories both entertaining and refreshing and advised me to write them down since they were very special and should be preserved. Once I reached semi-retirement with more time to spare, I wrote in the evenings. I conducted my daily business from the Greenwich library and the setting was perfect for a writer. Once my daily business tasks were complete, I then turned to my special project. Being in the library helped me focus. It was quiet there with people busily working on their computers and resources to draw on as needed. Since writing can be solitary, being in the library offset my isolation. I remain indebted to the Greenwich library with its comfortable facility and its supportive staff.

This is your first book and you are a business professional. Describe the transition.

It is not unusual for business professionals to also write books during their careers and in retirement. I waited until I was semi-retired and wrote my memoir as a part-time project. I looked forward to the evening time when I could resume where I left off, averaging four hours each evening.

What did you learn from writing your story?

As I started to write, I was amazed at how clearly I remembered those years, even to the time of my father’s illness and death when I was just four years old. I could describe the scenes precisely as they unfolded. Writing the book chronologically, helped give structure to my project. At times, I found myself unable to write the scene down, but by taking a walk or sleeping on it, I found it came to me more clearly and I would then rush to my computer while it was fresh in my mind. As I progressed from section to section, I felt a lot of gratification in my accomplishments.

Is the story based on you?

The book covers my stages of development from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood and finally to immigration. In each stage, I am part of a community. As such, it is the story of many others, since our lives were intertwined in a homogonous society.

What are some of the important themes in the book?

The book addresses village and communal living where neighbours supported each other unconditionally. It emphasises friendship and generosity free of competition and exploitation. The setting is rural Ireland of the 1950s when the country was mainly agrarian. It describes the cycle of country life with the farmers working together seasonally. The book takes the reader through the farming tasks from ploughing the fields with joint horses to planting the potatoes with volunteers, from threshing the corn to harvesting the turf, and shows the team efforts involved in each stage.

Who are the main characters in the book?

My mother is one of the most important. She was left widowed with four young children, ages four to ten, and continued to operate our farm independently as a single mom. The book acknowledges her many talents and skills both on the farm and inside the home and marvels at her ability to make ends meet from the resources of a small farm. I was very close to my mother, learning from her strengths and character. Since I enjoyed life on our farm, I took on many of the daily chores willingly as a helping hand for my mother.

What authors influenced you and motivated you to write your memoir?

I was influenced by Frank McCourt’s memoir titled Angela’s Ashes. In it, Frank describes his miserable childhood growing up in the 1950s Ireland. While we both grew up in the same decade, my experiences and memories are very positive and completely opposite to Frank’s. Though Ireland was poor during our time, living on a farm in a village setting versus on a lane in Limerick City made all the difference. From this perspective, it is worthwhile to learn about the differences.

How did your childhood environment prepare you for the world?

It gave me much confidence and wisdom. Being raised in a defined culture with strong family values, a stable home life where farms were passed down through the generations, a strong work ethic on the farm and a religious conviction, were all key elements for my stability.

Did living in America confuse your identity?

Not at all. In fact, it reinforced my Irish identity. In a sense, I never really left Ireland. Though I lost my father when I was four years old, I have very happy memories of growing up there. It taught me to trust other people and have great faith in humanity. It also taught me to accept many peculiar personalities as experienced in village life. Living on a farm was synanons with nature and animals and I learned to appreciate both. While America has been good to me, deep down, I am not materialistic. America has exposed me to many cultures and their differences and has provided me with work and resources for travel, thus broadening my horizon and for that I am grateful. But my heart has never strayed from Ireland. It is where my roots lie.

What will the reader learn from your book?

They will get an understanding of the 1950s Ireland and, hopefully, an appreciation for the values of that time. It was a simple lifestyle, uncomplicated, innocent, civil and safe. The reader will learn how people found happiness and pleasure with less, how they entertained each other since there was no television, how they got around on bikes since there were few automobiles, and how they worked hard for their livelihoods.

Will there be a follow-up book?

Yes, I plan to write about my life in America. Initially, I considered combining the two but then realized how different they have been. I concluded Ireland should stand alone, unique and preserved as I experienced it while growing up in the 1950s.


Q&A with Author Anna Gray

Author of Coming Out Of The Dark

Why did you write this book?

I always knew one day I would write a book. I just didn’t know what it would be about until I realised I knew the story inside out already. It was a story about my life, my challenges and my learning. What better to write about than what I already know, I thought. I wanted my story to help others. I know that phrase is used a lot, but I truly felt that if I could muster the courage to share things that were deeply personal and raw, that it could reach out and touch others that helped them.

What surprised you the most as you researched or wrote it?

I was surprised by how deeply healing it was for me. It connected a lot of dots for me as I wrote it, chapter by chapter, and I wasn’t expecting that. I quickly came to the realisation that I didn’t know as much about myself as I thought I did and noticed that as I wrote, I learned more and grew more. I also came to see that writing a book isn’t as easy as it can seem. There was a lot more to it than simply sitting down and writing, although that’s the essential first step! I really enjoyed it, every single part of it, even the challenging times.

What do you think will surprise readers the most?

I think that might depend on each reader and their own expectations of the book. Some may be shocked by particular elements of my story. The feedback I have received so far has all been good and I really value each review and comment I receive. There are some difficult and sensitive topics in my book, such as Intimate Partner Violence, and this may be painful for some people to read about. What I hope is, that readers are pleasantly surprised by my strength to overcome the darker times of life and that they find it inspirational.

What is the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

I hope readers can find hope and strength in my message of healing. I wanted to write this book with full disclosure and honesty, so that it may encourage a reader to feel safe to do the same with someone they trust. I wanted to portray the transformational power of telling your own story, no matter the fear or guilt or shame that may have prevented it in the past.

Did writing this book change your life in any way?

Yes, in more ways than one. It helped me to heal whilst also showing me I could actually write in a way that touched other people. The important thing for me was that my story was relatable and that readers felt they were simply listening to me talk. I had always hoped to write one day but didn’t feel I was capable or that anyone would believe in me enough to take me on as an author. Writing this book really helped me to see the value of sharing your story with others, both for them and for the author.

What I learned along the way about the technical side of writing a book has meant I have been able to expand my writing career into editing for other authors. That has been the most amazing gift for me out of this process, as now I have the honour of walking beside someone else who is telling their story and helping them to do it in the best possible way through their writing.

What do you hope will come from others reading it?

I hope that anyone who reads it feels that they can also find a place to share their pain and be heard and supported. I wanted to share various healing modalities that had helped me, so that others may explore those too if they felt drawn to them. Most of all, I simply hope that my book can capture the essence of what the human spirit can overcome and the healing that is possible.


Q&A with Author Cathy Fitzgibbon

Author of Eat With The Seasons

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

Growing up on a farm, I witnessed first-hand the way food was lovingly produced using a farm to fork ethos. I enjoy researching, educating and writing about food, so publishing a book was a fascinating way for me to channel these personal interests and communicate practical knowledge and practices that I’d learnt and gradually refined through sustained research and natural awareness in terms of my personal heightened experiences with food. I wanted to write this book to help others but was equally waiting for the right time to bring it to life. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck and we were all displaced from the lifestyle routines that we’d built up over years, food took its rightful place, at the heart of our homes helping us through the difficult times we found ourselves faced with in our daily lives.


Q: Is the book based on you?

Eat With The Seasons is not directly based on me as it’s written as a self-guidance journal, however certain themes that run through it relate to my own mindful eating lifestyle. I’m blessed to have an extremely good relationship with food so I hope it will also empower others in their own daily experiences, helping them to mindfully map out their own personal relationship with food. The seasonal eating approach (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) and way that the journal is laid out is the foundation on which my brand ethos (The Culinary Celt) is built upon and it also features aspects of my own daily food-related lifestyle.


Q: What do you hope will come from others reading it? 

I hope the book will be a positive educational tool that will help readers explore and shift their relationship with food in a mindful and healthy way. I would like readers to embrace my CELT mindful eating model principles that have been developed in the book by way of a four-pillar framework, as its extremely important to understand the role that mindful eating and gratitude plays in terms of enhancing our overall wellbeing.

Q: What’s the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

The journal has been designed to empower readers with practical and meaningful ways to self-reflect and understand individual eating patterns in tune with nature and the four varied seasons of the year, enabling them to uncover and embrace a positive relationship with food. It’s perfectly normal that our attitudes may differ when it comes to nutritional food but it’s equally important to note that the food we choose to eat has a profound direct impact on nature and the book shines a light on this seasonal approach towards our eating lifestyles.


Q: What lessons have you learned so far in your writing?

Getting started is the most important part. Then as the writing process evolved, I began to see inspiration everywhere. A lot of work goes into researching and writing the content. There were various stages during the writing process that were exciting and fun whilst other stages, at times, anchored and halted my creativity to flow. It’s like a rollercoaster! I also learned that when you’re passionate about the subject matter that your writing about then there is lots of scope to channel creativity.


Q: Did writing this book change your life in any way?

It has given me a far greater appreciation for the work of other authors and book publishing teams in terms of the dedication they put into their work. It also gave me a huge sense of satisfaction in the way it’s come to life and will a tangible tool that to can be used to positively educate others on the areas of sustainability and their own personal wellbeing.


Q: Advice to anyone sitting at home, saying I would like to publish a book?

You can do it! Choose your deadline and writing goal. Prepare before you write, scheduling your time and mind mapping out the core development ideas is extremely helpful from the outset. These can then be fleshed out and amended along the way. Like everything in life, it is all about enjoying the journey and with this comes a sense of achievement, which brings the destination within reach. Just stay focused and true to yourself in the writing process and connect with others, as they can offer great guidance and help to act as a sounding board for your suggested ideas.

Q&A with Author Alan Creedon

Author of The Search For Still Waters

Why Decide to Write a Book Now?

I had been writing the book for four years, on and off, when I finally decided to get it published. I think it was COVID times that finally pushed me into working with editors and a publisher. There was something about that time–spring 2020–that inspired me. There was a lot of fear around. The world was changing more rapidly than we’d ever seen and that helped me decide. I suppose I thought “life’s too short not to finish this.” When I made the journey, Walk For Aoife, in 2016 I kept a journal each day. As the journey progressed, so did the writing, and after a couple of weeks I found I was writing for a good hour a day after walking between 15 and 30km per day. It flowed the further I walked and by the end of the walk I tried and put it all together. The idea kept developing, because my reasons for writing it became stronger. I realized I had to share what brought me to making the choice to take on the journey in the first place, to place it within the context of my life. This meant writing about family and childhood experience, adolescence and adulthood, touching on some events that shaped my life until the point where I knew I had to make that journey.

What is the most important lesson or message people will get from it?

I am hoping people will see that it’s a genuine account of a life and how our personal choices and circumstances make us who we are. Some things we are in control of and some are purely circumstantial, but it’s what we do with these circumstances that count. I hope people will see that things like depression and anxiety can be cultivated over decades but it’s never too late to tackle them. Also, that grief is something we need to feel rather than ‘deal with’ by pushing it away. I hope people will read that being a boy or a man does not mean we have to behave in a certain way, be emotionally closed and ‘handle’ things by holding our heads high and getting tough, which is often the way to repression and sadness, disappointment and a closed mind and heart. Also, that searching is a great thing. I spent many years searching for answers, looking for the next thing to inspire me. But the big lesson I learned was that it is only through getting down and gritty with the reality of situations that I truly learned about myself and the beauty and pain of life. I had to be completely involved in order to heal. I couldn’t do that through reading books or learning, although it all helped give me perspective.

How do You Think Reading This Book Will Help People?

 I think we can learn from any experience–be it some rejection or success, a passing moment in the street or a planned journey across countries and seas. Reading a book can bring many things to people. I wrote this book partly for myself but also partly for the audience. I hope people will see that I have put my heart and soul into it, that I share difficulties and challenges, perhaps in a way that many people wouldn’t, how a lot of men wouldn’t, and I hope it would encourage people to be more in touch with their feelings and be able to express themselves emotionally, especially regarding mental health issues. I hope it will encourage people to follow their dreams, because making the choice to do an adventure or a life-changing journey is difficult–but it is so worth it! I hope it will help people to see that holding on to grief and sadness can cause many problems and it’s always best to talk to people. I encourage people to be outside and appreciate the wonders of this beautiful world we live in and how that too can play a big part in our healing and connection. I hope it will help people to not be afraid of change, both cultural and personal–the world is rapidly changing right now and so many of us don’t know how to help and so we hide. I hope this book helps people to see that facing problems, both personal and global is both our responsibility and a very fulfilling thing to do.

Did Writing This Book Change Your Life in Any Way?

It changed my life in more ways than I could imagine! Because it was about my life, I got a massive chunk of perspective once I wrote it all out — that was the first draft. Once I had ‘exorcised’ the first draft I was on to the second and with each draft I uncovered and confronted my ideas about myself and other people and accepted many things about myself I previously could not. It was like a massive journaling project. In a way, layers were stripped back with each draft. I had to look deeply into my experience of my childhood and adult life to separate out my ‘stories’ about things that were not necessarily true, heal old wounds and begin to see life afresh. One could say that writing this book has been very cathartic and has even helped make a man out of me.

Do You See a Follow up to This Book?

My intention was to write this and be done with book writing, but I’ve learned so much in the process that it’s likely I’ll continue. I read somewhere once that the seed of your next project should be contained within the last project. I suppose I will use this logic regarding my next project.

What Lessons Have You Learned so Far in Your Writing?

Keep at it, follow the flow when it’s there. It’s definitely easier when you follow the flow and it takes discipline to write every day when you’re working on a project. This book has given me so much confidence as a writer–and that’s before anyone has even read it! The joy and pain and all of that is within the process–whatever other people think of it is up to them. I’ve also learned that it’s important to write every day when there’s a ‘serious’ project, like a book happening. Also, trust what’s coming out of you–even if it doesn’t seem to make enough sense to you at the time, you will probably find the people who can help you make sense of it later on. Sometimes it feels easy and sometimes it feels hard–this is how we learn. Don’t let that put you off. Life is like this. Sometimes it feels easy and sometimes it feels hard. This is normal, this is making room for growth and learning.

Advice to Anyone Sitting at Home, Saying I Want to be Like Him and Write a Book?

Don’t bother! Only joking. Start your project. Everyone has different ways of doing things, so it might be good for you to tell someone supportive that you want to write, or it might suit you to just get going and not wait for anyone to help you. I would say it’s worth it, all the crafting and shaping and editing. Write as much as you can first, before worrying about what it might look like. Often these things do not arrive fully formed and will need honing later. Just get that stuff out if it’s in there, see what it looks like, get someone you trust to read it and offer help or suggestions. Support is important. Be prepared for it to be sometimes easy and sometimes difficult and when it feels hard to remember that this is part of the process, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or it will never be finished–it’s just part of it!

Q&A with Author Siobhán Lally

Author of The Violet Mist

This story is loosely based on real events that occurred early in 2013 when I was on maternity leave with my fourth child, Daisy. My husband, Andy, arrived home one day with two newborn lambs that his brother asked him to take because their mother had died. Despite my protests about having enough for doing, my other children, Daniel, Caitlin and Lucy, fell in love with them and within minutes the lambs were adopted and christened – Leo and Shane. A few days later, Leo became very unwell and it was suggested by well-meaning sheep experts locally that it was a waste of time trying to save him as they rarely survive. I was horrified and being a Nurse went into the ‘NOT ON MY WATCH’ mode.

Around the same time, I had developed an interest in spirituality and energy healing. I had just completed a course in Reiki so, after a trip to the Vets, Leo was started on a course of antibiotics, two hourly feeds, reiki treatments and chest physio. To my own and everyone else’ amazement he survived! He became such a pet. He was so used to human interaction that he was like a puppy playing with the kids and looking for cuddles. Eventually Leo was big enough to be moved out to grass in the field behind our house where he and Shane could be seen and were accessible to us.

Then one day he just died! I was heartbroken and then became really annoyed with spirituality. I decided I was finished with all that Reiki and Angel nonsense. I was convinced the universe was out to get me but one day I was packing all my books about spiritually, Reiki and Angels into a box, when a small book about fairies by Doreen Virtue fell out onto the floor. It was opened on a page about Fairy Queen Oonagh from Ireland. I had never heard of her before, so I Googled her and a picture of a beautiful woman with long blond hair down to her toes with a lamb at her side, popped up on the screen. One search led to another and another until I uncovered a range of old Irish mythical characters of An Tuatha de Danann who are now known as the Sidhe. Over the next couple of months, I read everything I could and visited sacred sites around Ireland that were connected to this mystical race. I had never considered myself a writer but in the Summer of 2014, drawing on my own characters–my children and their pets, An Tuatha de Danann and a great deal of imagination, The Violet Mist took shape.

What surprised you most as you researched this book?

I was surprised in the beginning about the lack of information and stories about An Tuatha De Danann and the Mythological Cycle in Irish history. There was a huge amount about Cuchuallain, Fionn mac Cumhail and the Fianna but very little information about their predecessors except for The Children of Lir who turned out to be the last of the Tuatha de Dannan before the Milesians came. Even though I loved the Fianna stories, I was more interested in the more peaceful and mystical race that build the mysterious mounds at Bru Na Boinne and other astronomical structures all over the country. They are still relatively unrecognised except for the occasional cameo appearance in the tales of the Fianna. Thankfully, since I started writing this book, I have found more and more websites and literature are being dedicated to them.

Also, when I first visited associated sites, many were inaccessible and required much jumping of walls, electric fences and brambles, which was very difficult with four children in tow. When we first visited the Hill of Uisneach, it was a working farm, but the owner, David Clarke, kindly gave us permission to walk on his land to see the Catstone and all the other structures. There were no guided tours like there are now, so it was very difficult to find anything. When we first went to the hill of Knockma in Tuam, the summit where the Cairns and the ruins of Finvarra’s castle are, was mainly inaccessible except by more scaling of walls and prickly hedges. Thankfully, the Hill of Uisneach now has its own visitor centre and the summit of the Hill of Knockma has been cleared and made accessible to the public.

Because there was so little record of the Sidhe, I was lucky to come across authors who were mystics and described their encounters with the Sidhe. It was from the works of George AE Russell that I got most of my information and material in his book ‘The Candle of Visions.’ written in 1908. Also, John Matthews’ book ‘The Sidhe’ provided invaluable insights into the peaceful and loving nature of the Sidhe who they believe still exist beneath the mounds in the Irish countryside.

What do you think will surprise readers the most?

I think readers might be surprised to find that even though the story is a fairy tale, many of the characters and places mentioned in the book have their foundations in Ireland’s history and folklore and can easily be explored. Tir Na Nog, I suppose, is not as easy to reach, but a little imagination might get you there.

What’s the most important lesson or message readers will get from it? 

I would hope the message is that good friends come in all shapes and sizes and you don’t have to be the most popular or cool to have the best adventures in life. Also, there is a subtle hint of gender equality running through which depicts women as warriors fighting shoulder to shoulder with men, which was the way of An Tuatha de Danann.

Did writing this book change your life in any way?

Yes, I had never contemplated being a writer and my main experience in writing was in nursing academia, which had to be factual and practical. However, there was one area called ‘Reflective practice’ where I discovered my descriptive ability. In Reflective practice, we had to describe events you came across in your practice that were not taught in nursing textbooks or lectures. The idea was to describe the occurrence with as much detail as possible in order to educate your colleagues if faced with a similar situation. My tutors said I had a great descriptive quality to my reflective practice essays for which I always got A’s.

I started writing this book in 2014 in bursts when ideas came to me. It was only meant for my entertainment and not to be made available to the public. It was only in 2018, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer that I gave it structure. I was listening to a podcast by Wayne Dyer – 5 lessons in life–he said ‘Don’t die with your music still in you’. And so I threw myself into finishing the book, which was a great distraction while going through treatment.

What do you hope will come from others reading it?   

I would like to see more people familiarise themselves with our ancient Irish history. An Tuatha de Danann were hugely intelligent and Ireland prospered under their rule. The monuments they built all over the country are older and are just as important as the Pyramids of Giza. Unfortunately, except for Bru Na Boinne, many are falling into ruin. There is very little mention of them in the history books and so our young people are not taught about them in school. There seems to be a greater emphasis on our more recent history i.e. the Famine, the 1916 rising, War of independence etc … which, of course, are hugely important but, wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn about the brilliance of our ancestors as well. As I already mentioned, I studied the works of George AE Russell while researching this book. Although AE was a poet and mystic, he was also a great political influencer and writer. He wrote in his book–‘Imaginations and Reveries’ in 1925 that our literature focuses on ‘Irish people going forth into battle but always fell’ but he stated that ‘no country can ever hope to rise beyond mediocrity where there is not unbounded confidence in what its people can do.’

What are you working on at the moment?

The sequel … during a global pandemic I’m hoping the Sidhe will help us find a cure…




Q&A with Author Dr. John Ennis

Award Winning International Poet

Tell us a bit about your writing background. 

Rural, country farm, some seventy-five acres, seven brothers, the scrapings of the pot. Lots of chores. Finding, secreting Murillo on a Christmas card. Dry or wet battery radio. Turned on for the cattle market report (him), Petronella O’Flanagan’s Between Ourselves (her). Din Joe. The Match. The radio exploding during an electrical storm. Darkness in the kitchen of a July Christy Ring Sunday. Mother whispering, we must all be in purgatory, bedlam in the torrents, no, the house is not on fire…a quiet house (brothers out coortin’), with books in and out, both parents into westerns I grew up on as a boy, Luke Short, Louis l’Amour, Zane Grey. . .oil lamp, tilley lamp, ESB. Beg, borrow or steal to see a Sal Mineo in the Hibernian.

What, or who, inspired you to write?

A copy of the Everyman Collected Poems of John Milton given to me in the house by neighbour Kathleen Flanagan when I was fifteen. Reading the first book of Paradise Lost at one sitting. Had to walk it off in the forge field. Like too much Christmas Cake. But the nice taste remained. . . . . . .later, tutoring by Seán Lucy when I was a student at UCC, his comments “barbarous inkhorn stuff” . . . “one of the best long poems I’ve read this year”(Shoredwellers). Picking up every Cohen Anthology of Poetry in the original with English literal translations or in Spanish from round the world, haunting the Mercier Press 4 Bridge Street Cork.

And what influenced your books?

The Janus Face. The Later Selected 2000-2020, looking back, made easier by the editors doing the selection (poets have blind spots). Initially wanted a Selected as snappy as Lowell’s Faber Selected, but a longer narrative prevailed.

How has your life influenced your work in general?

Sometimes almost immediate, I wrote ten years of clerisy out of my system in a rush of some eighty poems (some published later in The Carra Days 2018; earlier some of the eighty made up a third of Night on Hibernia for the Kavanagh Award in 1975, but were excised from my first book of the same name). . . . at other times, the mills grind slowly, but they grind. But the process can take a lifetime, if ever.

And how do you find the balance between writing about your own personal experiences and exploring topics that may not be autobiographical, but still speak to many people? 

Poems can take the shape of the lyrical, personal “I”, or be written to order, the latter like the poet Rihaku mooning in the emperor’s marvellous garden all day, waiting for the order to write from the emperor as he passed by, and have it ready to read to him and his courtiers for entertainment after he’d finished dinner. The old Irish filidh were in the same boat. Every poem is like it or not revelatory of self: the poet of Pangur Bán was no Robbie Burns. . .Sometimes the res publica can land one in a minority of one; my seven-part poem “Referendum Seven”(one which disbelieved in both arguments for what was called the “Abortion Referendum”) earned one frowning emoticon on Facebook. The poem opted for the solution outlined by Evie Kendal in her Equal Opportunity and the case for State-Sponsored Ectogenesis (Palgrave MacMillan 2015).

And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Some writers write the ritual three hours a day. Their writing has the look of it. Still, write every day, the when or where or on what is immaterial. Keep in practice; sometimes a seam of gold opens up. To quote Yeats – unless your writing “seems like a moment’s thought, all your stitching and unstitching has been nought”. Always have the small notebook or whatever scrap to hand: the phrase that’s in your mind before you go to sleep will have absconded by the time you wake. Joyce’s early poems were written on the flip side of woodbine packets. Write with Attitude: a basic humility in the face of everything. Writers can be as conceited as religions are, full of themselves. The Movement greatly influenced the Hobsbaum group. Though whether individually or collectively, members of the latter could have written Dylan Thomas’s “A Winter’s Tale” is speculative, much less the short poem as memorable as “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”

Q&A with Author Meghann Scully

Author of
Broken Love and Little Pocket of Love

Why did you write this book? 

I wrote Broken Love so that I could share my experience of grief and loss, hoping to help others who were suffering. Losing my brother at 15 and Dad at 16 was devastating and at that tender teenage age, I struggled to express my feelings and bottled my pain and sadness only for it all to burst open during my early twenties. When my brother Marcus died, there were so many books about grief and death but none that I could understand or comprehend. I remember telling my mother that one day I would write a book that was easy to understand and read.

What surprised you the most as you researched or wrote it?

My book was diary inserts from when my brother passed away and as I read through them all, I couldn’t believe how far I had come on my journey. I suffered some very dark years and I was proud to see how far I had come. And I knew then that we can get through the tough times and we can heal.

What do you think will surprise readers the most?

Broken Love is so raw, emotional and from the heart. It’s so honest as I tell you about my experience with grief, loss and death and it’s relatable. It’s real life.

What is the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

The most important message from my book and story is that you can survive, you can get through that darkness, and that you will be okay.

Did writing this book change your life in any way?

My book, my story and my journey has brought great happiness to my life as readers have told me that a difference it has made to their lives, how they felt so alone but know that they are not. I’ve also done a lot of workshops, given talks and been interviewed about my story and life.

What do you hope will come from others reading it? 

I hope you will realise that we all suffer grief at some stage in life, at different times, but it happens to us all you just need to remember that you are never alone on that journey.


Q&A with Rivers Run Free Press Author Paddy McMenamin


  • Why did you write this book?

Well, you know, there comes a time in life when you realise that the years are starting to count down, the hair has long changed colour and is thinning on top, your golf handicap is 21 and counting, several serious medical episodes in recent years, my football playing days are long over and jogging and cycling have gone by the wayside with the last of the summer wine. I’ve always had a grá for the written word and am simultaneously an avid reader. Writing is the most therapeutic thing that I do. Two thousand words every Sunday evening for my weekly article in a local paper back in County Donegal washed down with a few glasses of Merlot make for a great laxative during lockdown, so when all is said and done, why not ‘write the book’!

I’ve been writing all my life, from the old 11+ exam to get me to Grammar school in Belfast in the North of Ireland, typing up and editing a Cage newspaper in Long Kesh in the 1970s, a monthly golf news sheet for our ‘Works Society’ in the 1990s, assignments and dissertations at University when I returned as a mature student aged 50, contributing a weekly article to the Tirconaill Tribune in Donegal and a monthly article for a football fanzine, ‘More Than 90 Minutes’ in the last three years, embracing social media, podcasts and blogs, the writing flows before the memory goes.

After three open-heart surgeries and a brain haemorrhage in the past four years and then a year of virtual lockdown, it just appeared to be the perfect time to write ‘the book’. Six months of typing up maybe 1000 words a night during recuperation from ill health and then six months of ‘lockdown’ set aside for reviewing, editing, proof reading and cutting have brought me to this stage where it is time for the publishers to have their say and for me to pray that the public have their way and buy the finished product for a rainy day, and hope they see merit in ‘Armed Struggle & Academia’ much more so than the antics of ‘Mr. Grey’!

Leaving aside my facetious way for the moment, my gut feeling for writing the book is to have it for my children and grandchildren and my partner, Mary. If it sells 500 copies after that, then so be it. If it sells 1000, then all the better. I see my book as a story about life and Belfast, beginning in a partitioned society then morphing into ‘armed struggle’ in my teenage years, Donegal, marriage, children, work, football, separation, golf, redundancy, University and academia, Teacherman, Examiner, Writer, Galway, perfect bliss! I want to bring a true story about the conflict on the streets of Belfast in the 1970s, seen through the eyes of a cohort of young urban working class youth. Life then was about gaol and death, it wasn’t pretty but it’s the truth and a primary source to assist in an accurate and factual account of the conflict, with the hope that it is utilised in assisting perusal of the archives by future scholars in academic research. I want to inform a new generation as to what it was really like back then so that, in the future, the gun will never again make an appearance in our land!


What surprised you the most as you researched or wrote it?

It has been the most therapeutic thing I have ever done. I started at the end of January and completed the book in mid August, 135,000 words. It just flowed. I didn’t need to research because I lived through it. I did, of course, check dates etc. but that was a given. The bulk of the story was from memory and while they say memory is unreliable I can honestly say that I have perfect memory even of the minutest detail from 50 years ago. It also helps that it is not hyperbole, fictitious or just plain untruths; everything from beginning to end is a factual look at a period in my life!

I’m older, more comfortable in my own skin, more experienced and confident. Back ‘in the day’, you couldn’t even contemplate writing a book when an attitude existed that working class people shouldn’t do things like that with advice from on high, “don’t get above your station, leave writing to Doctors, Teachers, Politicians and Generals. Sure, they were the sort of people who wrote books”, anyway “what would I be writing about?” I have the confidence now that allows me to write the book and talk about it freely; there is nothing left to surprise me in 2020 after the roller coaster year we are all experiencing.


  • What do you think will surprise readers the most?

The major content in the book regarding the conflict in the 1970s in Belfast will be a major surprise to many people, especially my golfing friends in Galway! The opening chapter about the week in March 1988 will make for difficult reading to many people living in the Republic, many of whom were very detached from the situation in the 6 counties at the time. To be honest, for a long time we didn’t talk much about it. The situation in the 1980s was difficult in Donegal as people despaired of the continuing conflict and, as the county closest to the situation; it was a particular problem for them. But, as time moved on into the 1990s and the ceasefires and GFA there was more of an opening up about the situation and people felt at ease debating the problems that still existed. Also, for republicans, they had moved forward from the demonisation of the ‘bad days in the 80s’ and became a significant part of mainstream society. Many people in Donegal, of course, would know of my political background and had no problem, not so many here in Galway. We have, of course, moved on quite a bit but there are still those who refuse to step forward and harp back to things that were done. Unfortunately, that is the nature of conflict, all conflict. I believe there is no ‘hierarchy of victims’, no differences; it’s always someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, wife or husband. We have to try to accept the past and that is my reason for writing the book so that people will understand, but to use the cliche, ‘to those who understand no explanation is necessary, to those who don’t, no explanation is possible’. I’ll have to take the chance that those who are surprised and may be shocked will still play golf with me the day after the book launch.


  • What is the most important lesson or message readers will get from it?

Hopefully, that readers will gain a greater understanding as to why a young person born into a divided society with an undercurrent of unfinished business from the Treaty of 1921, could become involved in ‘armed struggle’ despite not coming from a republican background. In fact, it was really just a quirk of fate being born in that city from parents who left Donegal and Tyrone to seek a better life, that I was aged 16 when the 6 counties imploded and ripe for recruitment into one of the various armed groups. If I had been born in Donegal or Galway I would have joined the local GAA team, but being born in Belfast, as a catholic, left me joining the IRA. Also, to realise that if the conditions for conflict are not addressed then the potential is always there to be born into Sarajevo, Beirut, Baghdad, Kabul or Belfast. Ironically, there hadn’t been any trouble for 50 years in the North of Ireland since partition and then within a year we were embracing full scale urban guerrilla war and armed struggle which took 30 years to come to a certain form of peace through negotiation with everyone eventually at the table. The lessons are that peace has to be really worked at in a divided society, also that we study the past so that our grandchildren never face conflict in the future.


  • Did writing this book change your life in any way?

The book wasn’t put together to change my life although if it sells 50,000 and I become a paper millionaire overnight after 66 years it just might do!


  • What do you hope will come from others reading it?

I have no great expectations that anything will come from reading my book only that people might have a greater understanding about events in 1970s Belfast from someone that was there! I hope readers embrace it and put it on their book club list for next winter, that they find my story from armed struggle to academia an interesting one and encourage their children and grandchildren that it is never too late to learn and become the person you always wanted to be, that never let anyone put you down or discredit your efforts to become a better person, to cherish life and make the most of it, to care for your ageing parents and give support to your children and encourage the grandchildren to reach for the stars, to always throw a few bob to a homeless person on the streets because ‘there but for the grace of God’ we go, and no matter what age, you are, there are always more pars and birdies to chase after at Galway Bay and pints of the black stuff or a drop of vino in the 19th Hole après golf. Life is too short to drink cheap wine; it’s also too short not to live life to its absolute premium. Don’t have any regrets. Don’t entertain negative people. Always be positive, see the glass half full and you’ll never be disappointed. And, ‘always look on the bright side of life’.


Q&A with Author Ray Flannery

Author of The Moany McMoan Serie

Why did you decide to write a book?

I have always had an interest in books especially since I was in 5th Class. My teacher, Mr Scully instilled a love of reading both stories and poetry into me. I had always dabbled at writing little essays and poems but had kept them to myself. The only exception to that being a song I wrote which qualified into the finals of the Cavan International Song Contest, when I was 19 years old. 

Then my career took over and life just impeded writing. I just never found the time to sit down to write.  

Then, after having two boys myself, I found myself reading all the modern children’s books both to and with them. It brought back my interest in reading. By chance one night, I was channel hopping when I came across an interview between Jonathan Ross and David Walliams, where they were discussing his various roles as an entertainer, a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and also as an author. The topic of book sales came up and I remember saying to myself “Well, if he can write a book, then anyone can”. The following day I was having a coffee with a colleague, I was telling him about the interview and my thoughts on writing a book. His reply “Well don’t just talk about it, do it” I duly accepted his challenge and started writing the following day. 

What surprised you….?

The only thing that really surprised me was that once I sat down to write, I just wrote. I hope it doesn’t come across as being cocky. I didn’t have hours of sitting there looking blankly at a screen. I had planned the bones of the story and then worked on putting flesh on them and creating a full and proper story from them.

 What do you think will surprise readers the most?

I don’t think the book itself will surprise readers, with the only exception being that there is a new Irish author on the scene, one who has written a nice children’s book which children will hopefully love and want to hear more from. The only thing which may surprise them is to learn that in my real job, I am a Detective Garda. Not exactly a marriage one would expect.

 The most important lesson or message?

Two lessons from the experience. Firstly, if I can do it, then anybody can. Secondly, things don’t always work out the way we want or imagine, but the results can still be pretty amazing.

 Did writing the books change your life in any way?

It most certainly did. It opened me up to a new world that I never expected. I have found it so strange to find myself being interviewed on national radio by people such as Ryan Tubridy and Ian Dempsey. In my real job, I am usually the one asking the questions not answering them

It introduced me to new colleagues, who have now become friends. It is such a diverse change from my real job. It has also been a huge learning curve from the writing, the illustrations, the getting published, the social media, the media itself.  

 What lessons have you learned so far in your writing?

The main lesson that I have learned is that this process is not all plain sailing. The thought of writing a book, getting it published and becoming an overnight success is fantastical. It doesn’t work that way. You have to persevere with your dreams. It sounds strange to say that a rejection letter sometimes is a good thing. Having submitted to several publishers and not even getting a reply is frustrating. We all need advice and guidance. Luck had a part to play in my getting published. My mother always says that what is for you wont pass you. I agree. 

 What do you hope will come from others reading your books?

I hope that those reading them firstly will enjoy reading the books. I hope they will want to hear more about the various adventures of Moany McMoan and his friends. I hope that the Moany McMoan series might become a part of Irish Children’s literature for many years to come.

 What are you working on now?

I have just started the fourth book in the series of Moany McMoan adventures. The plan is for six books which will follow on each other to make up a year in the life of Moany McMoan. 

I also have started writing an adult crime fiction book. This book is based around the dark and dangerous world of Human Trafficking. This is a book I want to get right, so as such, I am taking my time with. Hopefully, the end result will be worth it.  

 Advice to anyone sitting at home contemplating writing a book?

We all have heard the old saying about everybody having a book in them, well the trick is to get it out of them. Put your thoughts down on paper, try to plan a plan for your story. If you are going to illustrate the book, as I do, then draw your characters in a notebook. They will be a reference point. If art is not your forte, then write out a description of the character as you see them in your mind. It will help the illustrator. The satisfaction and pride you will have when you finally get to hold your work is something which I won’t even try to describe. I will leave that for you to discover yourself.