I remember first using writing as an expression of my feelings when I was 12. My much loved horse had been sold and I wrote a poem to express a pain that I didn’t fully understand, but now know to be grief. By the age of 15 I had written a ‘novella’ full of teen angst and drama, but never had the confidence to let anyone read it. I was, by then, deeply embroiled in what has been a life-long love affair with books. I left school, started work, and life happened. While my reading continued, discovering favourite authors from Dick Francis to Maeve Binchy, my writing did not, only flaring up at times of great emotional pain. If it was too much to bear, I put it on paper; this seemed to ease it a little.
I won’t bore you with the details of my life; yes, there was marriage, children, heartbreak, grief, love, and more children, and around my 40th birthday came a level of emotional security I had never experienced before. I had a man who adored me as much as I did him, happy healthy children, and a job I loved.
Coming up to Easter last year, I saw a former colleague of my husband was asking for test readers for a book he had written which I offered to review, and so my journey with Volunteer began. Have you ever read a great book and been left thinking long after you’ve left the pages? Dozens of questions running through your mind? Volunteer blew me away; never had I read such an exhilarating, emotive story and what was phenomenal was that I had the author on hand to quiz, mercilessly. Which I did.
I went on to read Volunteer three times in as many weeks, and each time – even though I knew how it ended – it invoked the same feelings. I knew the author, Gary McElkerney, had something very special in Volunteer, but it was a bit of a ‘rough diamond’ – he had written it almost as he spoke, there were spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that needed addressing. I asked if he would let me work on the manuscript and graciously he allowed me to edit, and then publish this amazing novel. We had some challenges, and steep learning curves, but we got there and have been delighted with the results.
The publication of Volunteer was the first step in a wider challenge, the next phase is film production and then the soundtrack, and we have reached out to those with experience in these areas. Some amazing connections have been made and, as Gary continues to work on the script, we have a TV producer in LA reading Volunteer and a musician in Toronto working on a soundtrack.
While we wanted to celebrate, Gary didn’t want a traditional book launch and we decided on a charity fundraiser. I approached the founder of Mind Your Mate & Yourself and we are currently planning a fantastic event which will see displays of local art and photography, a reading of Volunteer by a local actor, live music and a prize raffle.
This experience has re-awakened my own passion for writing. I’m now endeavouring to complete my own novel – How Will You Remember Me? – which will be published later this year. I’ve also spent time reviewing for a book blog, including some fabulous publications from Arcadia Books. I also adapted a poem I had written into lyrics which Gary wrote music for, and I have to say hearing your words sang is pretty cool!
Over the coming weeks I will be introducing each of ‘the collaborators’ to you; people who are involved in the event and have donated their time, and talents, to help us help others. Please support them, and us in attending the event or buying a raffle ticket when they come on sale later this month.
For updates on the event please follow us on twitter @WritePath_NI or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WritePathNI
We hope to see you there,