Kicking off the countdown is a question that every writer loves to answer…
1. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I realised I wanted to be writer when I hit puberty, around thirteen. I’d always loved reading, and as a kid, one of the best parts of my week was Saturday, around 5pm. I’d be in the car with my dad, waiting in College Square North in Belfast, waiting to pick up my mum and my gran. Most weeks, Mum would produce a book for me. She was excellent at picking books. The Mennyms series by Sylvia Waugh was a great favourite, as well as Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Under the Hawthorn Tree trilogy. When I was a little younger, Nick Butterworth’s Percy the Park Keeper storybooks were an absolute treat.
Left: Me in a tree, young and innocent (sort of). Right: Teen me, sporting my usual fashion of shorts and a baseball cap (!)
So, older and pimply and angry at the world, I started to write my own stories. I realised that working with words was something I truly enjoyed. It took me away from a world where I often felt confused, and was too shy and scared to talk to anyone about what troubled me. In my fiction, I had characters talk to one another, and love one another, and it made me feel so much better.
Older still, perhaps not wiser, I decided that writing was something I wanted to do seriously – perhaps not as a career, but something I should do every day. About half a million words or more later, here I am.