Are you from a family of readers and or writers?
I have three sisters and one of them; Rachel is also a writer and editor, her children’s book will be out next year. We all read widely as children and our parents made sure we had plenty of books.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was my favourite book growing up. I wanted to be Jo.
So it was an inspiration to you?
Absolutely I wanted to be a writer like Jo and I’m thrilled to able to write for a living now. Writing is a fantastic job.
How did you get into ghost writing?
I was working for Brehon Press and I wrote three history books for them and I heard that John Mooney from Maverick Press was looking for an editor. I called him up and he said “What do you know about
?” I said “I’ve heard of
it” He needed a book ghost written in six weeks. It was a big challenge but I
ghost wrote three books about Thailand ;
“The Last Executioner”, “Angel of Bangkwang Prison” and “Miss Bangkok”. I also
wrote “Mother from Hell” for O’Brien Press in 2009 and this year I wrote “I was
a Boy in Thailand Belsen”.
What made you decide to write a Children’s book?
Actually Michael O’Brien asked if I had ever considered writing for children after he read “Mother from Hell”. He suggested a Titanic story. I worked on the story for about six months and then re-drafted for another six months.
So where did you get the idea to write from Samuel Joseph Scott’s point of view?
I had edited a book called “Written in Stone” by former Lord Mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley who does Titanic tours, Tom mentioned that Samuel was Titanic’s first death and he was buried in an unmarked grave in Belfast so I decided to write about him and I felt that his ghost would have wanted to watch the mighty ship being built and launched.
Tell us about meeting Samuel’s relatives
That was a huge shock but a good one, Tom got talking to the right people and a headstone was organised for Samuel and at the ceremony earlier this year I was waiting for it all to begin when a young man spoke to me and explained that he was a relative of Samuel’s. I was stunned, the young man then introduced me to his Grandmother; Samuel’s niece. It was a wonderful feeling and something not many writers ever get to experience.
The Spirit of the Titanic is a hugely popular book and you have been speaking about Titanic around the country in schools, libraries and bookshops have you enjoyed that?
I have, it has been a fabulous opportunity and although I have been nervous about public speaking in the past I am starting to enjoy it now. It has been great to be able to visit schools, festivals, museums and learn more and more about Titanic it is a fascinating subject I even had the chance to travel to
to The Centre
Culturel Irlandais this year which was fantastic. Paris
Do you have a favourite Titanic movie?
I have to say that “A Night to Remember” the old black and white movie is the best one although the James Cameron film had fantastic attention to detail.
Tell us more about “I was a Boy in
“I was a Boy in Belsen” is my most recent book it is the autobiography of Tomi Reichental who is one of the last remaining holocaust survivors in Ireland. I wrote the book by asking Tomi questions and pulling everything together into a narrative. It was a difficult process because much of the story was distressing for Tomi to recall.
Do you have a favourite author?
Absolutely I enjoy reading a lot of different authors but my favourite writer is Richard Ford and my favourite book is Independence Day. Some other books I really love are Breathing Lessons by Ann Tyler and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.
What are reading at the moment?
I am reading Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey who is my favourite biographer.
What was your book of the year?
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read as much as you can and write everyday. Someone once said that they wrote five pages a day and I think that’s a manageable target even if you have other commitments so if you want to write just do it.