Distress Signals comes out tomorrow.
Getting a novel published is something I’ve wanted since I was eight years old. It’s something I’ve been actively trying to do since I was 18. Eight years ago, I started to make fairly drastic changes in my life so I could go “all in” on making it happen, which would lead to me self-publishing non-fiction to keep me in coffee grounds and ink cartridges. I started with a book about my experiences moving to Orlando, Florida, to work in Walt Disney World: Mousetrapped. Over a year ago, at a minute to one o’clock on Monday 23 March 2015 (yes, I do know it to the minute), I finally got The Phone Call. It came only six days short of Mousetrapped‘s fifth anniversary and my launch tomorrow takes place almost six years to the day that I launched that book in a bookshop, coincidentally.
So I’m teetering on an emotional precipice and not just because I’m sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated and totally underprepared for my university exams. I know I need a new record but I cannot believe this day has come.
Anyway, let’s not get all touchy-feely. Instead, I’ll just say this: these are the things I’ll be thinking about as I (try to) fall asleep tonight…
Christmas Morning 1989
I asked Santa Claus for a typewriter (and Barbie’s Magic Van, which was the best toy EVAH) and promptly went to work on Christmas morning writing my debut. Later I’d ask my parents for an electronic typewriter, a Brother that I ended up writing English essays on for school. Later again, I’d convince them to buy a PC and then a laptop, just for me. But you know what? The first computer I actually finished anything on was also the first computer I’d paid for in full in myself. Coincidence?! I bet my parents would say no.
A Caravan in Garryvoe, July 1993
During the summer we used to go down to a 4-berth caravan we had installed in a field near the beach in Garryvoe, Co. Cork. One warm, sunny Friday afternoon – I assume it was a Friday; we were headed down there for the weekend – I convinced my mother to stop en route at a shopping centre so I could run in and buy the movie tie-in paperback of Jurassic Park to bring with me. I remember quite clearly lying on the bunk bed that slotted in above the dining table and across the front window of that caravan, trying to make sense of all the genetics and Chaos Theory parts Crichton put in at the beginning. I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. I wanted to write something that blurred lines in the same way.
I still have that paperback, although these days it’s only held together by Sellotape and love.
My Friend’s Garden, Spring 2001
School friends on the cusp of leaving school, talking about our big dreams and plans for the future, for the Real World that lay waiting beyond. One of them – the realist – asks me what I’m going to do.
I’m going to be a novelist, I say.
Yeah, but what are you going to do? For work? Like, what if that doesn’t happen?
Her tone implies that she really means when. When it doesn’t happen.
I honestly cannot picture a future where it doesn’t. Not because of an excess of self-confidence or self-belief, but because I want it so badly, and it’s the only thing I want in this way, that I actually can’t imagine an alternative future. I don’t want to.
The Irish Writers’ Centre Dublin, Summer 2004
In the summer of 2004 I made a massive U-turn in my life, breaking up with a boyfriend I’d been living with at the time, a boyfriend that everybody around me thought would one day be a husband. It was immensely freeing and completely terrifying, all at the same time.
One of the first things I did was book myself onto a weekend’s Start Your Novel course at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin (and into a swanky room at the Clarion Hotel. Hey, I was treating myself, okay?) At 22 I was the youngest on the course by about ten years and totally intimidated, but it was heady stuff being around people who openly admitted that what they wanted was the same thing I did: to write books.
The course was run by Rose Doyle. At the end of the first day she gave us an exercise to do overnight that we’d all read aloud and discuss first thing the following morning. I wrote a short piece – half a page – about a woman who’s just given birth being visited in the maternity ward by her husband and her best friend who – TWIST! – discovers from a series of exchanged glances that the two who didn’t just spend nine months growing a human are having an affair.
After I read it aloud, Rose made an approving sound and said, ‘So you’re going to write thrillers then.’
My Desk, May 4th 2016
Yes. Yes, I am.
* * *
So that’s what I’ll be thinking about tonight.
I’ll be doing this:
See you tomorrow for – SQUEALS – publication day!