Once, for a brief, illusionary spell when I was very small and
fanciful, I believed I was a robin. I can’t remember why I
decided on a robin rather than one of the other species who
frequented my garden. I was probably attracted by its red
breast and fearless nature – or admired its celebrity status as a
Christmas card icon. I visualised myself flitting in bushes,
posing against a snowy background or following furrows of
freshly dug earth. I was quite upset when I discussed my
metamorphosis with my mother and she, gently but firmly,
insisted that I was a child, not a bird. Eventually, to prove her
point she placed me in front of a mirror and I was forced to
confront my identity crisis. No wings, no redbreast; just a little
girl gifted with a wild and weird imagination. Not that I had any
understanding of imagination at the time―or had any inkling of
the significance it would play later in my life.
Like all writers, I was an avid reader throughout my
childhood. I kept a torch hidden under my pillow and, after
lights out, I burrowed under the blankets, filled with an
insatiable desire to reach that last page. In that warm, cocooned
space I read until my eyes – or the torch battery – gave out.
In school, I was constantly in trouble for ‘day-dreaming.’
That’s what my teachers called it, though there were some who
believed my pensive moods stemmed from idleness. Without
any understanding of the power of imagination, I simply took it
for granted that my mind should be elsewhere while my body
remained trapped in a school desk. Such adventures. Such
travels. Real life drifted over my head and my school reports
bore witness to this fact. Nothing imaginary lurking there. I was
the square peg in the round hole and have no memory of
excelling in any subject. These days, when I meet friends from
way back then, they tell me I used to read my poems and essays
out loud to the class. Why can’t I remember those moments?
The way I remember being a robin or, as I grew older, the
imaginary ships I sailed, the magical lands I visited? Perhaps,
such memories were blanked out under the force a cane or
strap, used with vigour to stop my ‘day-dreaming.’ I lived in an
era of corporal punishment and my teachers were convinced I
would never amount to anything other than a wide-eyed- gazer-
They were right. I became a novelist.
It didn’t happen immediately. The route I took was
circuitous, via motherhood and a career in journalism. The
pleasure I had gained from the books I read as a child attracted
me to the world of children’s fiction. Those were the first books
I wrote: fantasy, adventure, gritty realism, teen lives and loves.
But my characters, like my own children, were growing up and
reaching towards the challenges of adulthood. I made a
decision to change direction and write for an adult readership.
I’ve written eight novels, Fragile Lies, Sleep Sister,
On Your Doorstep (available on Amazon.com as Stolen Child),
The Lost Sister (available on Amazon.com as The Prodigal Sister),
The Betrayal, Guilty, The Wife Before Me, and my latest novel, The Thorn Girl.
I hope to write many more novels. All I need to do is hold
onto the imagination I had when I was too young to understand
its power – and was unaware that it is not always necessary to
have wings to fly.
I live with my husband, Sean, in the coastal town of Malahide,
close to the wonderful Broadmeadow Estuary, which had
featured in a number of my novels.