Could this bookshop help you escape the post-Christmas blues?

January 2017 / Bookshop review & much more / reading time: 3 minutes (600 words)

After the terrible 2016 that we’ve had, I arrived at Christmas worn out and frazzled. I then spent Christmas eating too much, not exercising, watching too much tv and this year, like so many others, nursing a cold. By the time it was over, I certainly didn’t want to write a longform blogpost. In fact, I just wanted to get away from everything. Wonderfully I managed that just a few days ago when I visited the most remarkable and perhaps least known bookshop in Dublin, Escape into Books

My godmother, Barbara Byrne, gave me a Christmas present of the book token that was in my coat pocket. My buddy, the artist Philip Barrett, gave me directions, but I still got lost twice before I finally found the bookshop. It didn’t look like much from the outside. The front door creaked loudly as I  ventured in.


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10 writing fails: My life in bad writing

December 2016/ Bad writing & memoir / reading time: 8 minutes (2100 words)

For this month’s blogpost I brought the box of bad writing down from the attic. That took courage. It’s been years since I looked into it. I didn’t know what I’d find inside. I discovered an unofficial account of my life, mostly from 1990 to 1998 i.e. from  16 to 24 years old. I am in my early forties now, but much of what I found hasn’t lost its power to embarrass me.

Here’s the top 10 fails of my life in bad writing.

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Out of my depth: Observing East Timor’s Independence Vote

November 2016/ Photo essay / reading time: 17 minutes (4300 words + lots of photos)

It’s 1999. I’m 25 years old. I’m living in Dublin and trying to be a screenwriter. I want to have my first feature film made by the age of 26, because I’ve heard that was Tarantino’s age when he got Reservoir Dogs made. But my life’s about to change course forever.

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‘Anatomy of a first draft’ or what can our body teach us about writing?

October 2016/ writing and living advice / reading time: 19 minutes (4800 words)

I’m obsessed with the body and how it guides or obstructs me in my writing. So I got ten amazing writers to tell me about their bodily experiences during 8 stages of writing a first draft. I told the writers that I’d write it all up in this blog post. I got everything back from them, fascinating stuff, but there was one problem – I had no idea how to write it up. I was stuck.

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Are stories addictive?: Finland’s mysterious‘Storyteller’

September 2016/ True crime / reading time: 14 minutes (3460 words)

The librarian saw the outsider approach Ulla out of nowhere and ask her a question. The outsider asked Ulla if she wanted to hear a story. She said yes. Two months later Ulla was dead.

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Could Enid Blyton’s Famous Five outwit modern parenting?

August 2016/ literary parody /reading time: 15 minutes (3750 words)

After last month’s essay on reading Stephen King’s Carrie as an 11 year old, this month’s longform blog about Enid Blyton is not an obvious follow up, except in the sense that it’s also about parenting and children’s books. In this blog I ask, what would Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books would be like if they were comprehensively revised to reflect contemporary, risk-averse, protective, middle-class parenting? And what beer would George drink if she couldn’t get her hands on ginger beer?

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4 reasons not to read Stephen King at 11 years old (and 2 reasons I’m glad I did)

July 2016 /Essay – Memoir / Reading time: 7 minutes (1760 words)

18th September, 2017: Note: Dear reader, this old blogpost is getting a lot of hits these days due to the release of IT and due to parents (and other adults in caring roles) wondering if children should read that book. While this blogpost tells my specific story of reading Stephen King’s Carrie when I was ‘too young’, I hope it might also demonstrate why, for some children, it’s appropriate to read books that weren’t written with them as the target audience. I hope it’s useful to you and I think it’s great that you’re out there trying to support and assist your children in making postive reading choices. Good luck! Oran. 

  • 1985

I am in a second hand bookshop in Dublin near my cousin’s house. The lurid cover of Stephen King’s first novel catches my eye. I’ve heard about it. It’s meant to be the most terrifying book ever written. I’ve got to have it. I pay the princely sum of 75 pence and it’s mine. I’m 11 years old.

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I support #CoverKidsBooks because kids books supported me

June 2016 / Memoir – essay / Reading time: 5 minutes (1200 words)

I support the #Coverkidsbooks campaign. It’s not only out of self interest – I am after all a children’s fiction writer aspiring for publication – or because I love reading children’s fiction or because I want help finding books for my own children. I support it  because finding the right kids books helped me through some difficulties in my childhood. Continue reading