Author Q&A with Ray Flannery
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 got in the way of 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 formulated 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 a fantastical one. It doesn’t work that way. You have to persevere with your dreams. It sounds strange to say that a rejection letter in some cases 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 won’t 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 formulate 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.