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  • alexdunne1


Phew! Glad I got that out of my system. There was probably a classier way to announce that but I don't care - this is the kind of announcement you only get to make once in your life and I fully intend to milk it for all it's worth!

I've been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, but every time I sat down to do it, I felt completely overwhelmed. How can I possibly put into words what the last few weeks have meant to me? I mean, I am fulfilling a lifelong dream... that's pretty mad! It's all felt a but surreal and, frankly, like a big practical joke is being played on me and eventually someone is going to pop out from behind a wall and yell "Fooled you!".

I figure the best way to order my thoughts is through the good old 5W method - who, what, when, where, why?

Who did you manage to trick into publishing you?

Well, only Ireland's leading independent publisher The O'Brien freakin' Press! The O'Brien Press has been in the book biz for over fifty years and in that time, they've published what are some of the defining books of my childhood such as Under the Hawthorn Tree by the legendary Marita Conlon-McKenna, Run With the Wind by Tom McCaughren, and Strongbow by Morgan Llywelyn. O'Brien Press also published one of my favourite books of 2020, Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran. As you can imagine, it's extremely exciting for me to share a publisher with these authors! And I truly think O'Brien Press is the best home for this book. I could NOT be happier.

What are they publishing?

My first novel! It's a children's book (middle grade or MG for my North American pals)....aaand that's about all I can say right now! Yup. I'm not actually allowed to talk about it currently which is both hilarious and kind of makes me feel like a spy. I promise, once I'm allowed to talk about it you won't be able to shut me up. But let me just say that it's a story that means a lot to me. I poured a lot of myself and my own life into it and I'm so so SO proud that this is the first work I get to share with the world.

When will your book-spawn be unleashed unto this earth?

Right now it's slated for autumn 2022 which feels like a billion years away, but there's a whole lot of stuff that needs to happen first - I need to go through the editing process, a cover needs to be designed, the book needs to be copy edited and proofread and typeset and printed... yeah, publishing is a LOT of work. Plus, O'Brien has a pretty small team and they put out quite a few books a year so it's only fair that I wait my turn.

As I move through the publishing process I'd love to take you all along for the journey and give some insight into what actually goes on behind the scenes, so keep an eye out for that!

Where will I be able to find said book?

Well definitely Ireland, but beyond that, who knows? I'd obviously adore it if a North American publisher picked the book up. It would be pretty cool to be able to walk into a bookshop here in Toronto and see my book-baby staring back at me. It's also a bit of a dream to be published in another language but we'll see...Anyway, we do live in a digital age and I've found Irish bookshops to be AMAZING at shipping abroad so if you're interested and you don't live in Ireland, there will be ways and means to get your grubby mitts on it...

No offence but...Why you?

Good question and one I've been asking myself for months now (I have low self esteem). The truth is, I don't entirely know why. A lot of it is down to luck and timing and yes, my own hard work for actually writing a book in the first place, but the fact that OBP (that's what us cool kids call O'Brien Press...presumably) even laid eyes on the manuscript in the first place is due in no small part to my friend Gráinne O'Brien.

Gráinne is not only one of my favourite people and my frequent collaborator (we founded Silver Apples together), she is also the genius behind Rontu Literary Service, a coaching and manuscript assessment service for writers of children's fiction. When I told her that I was working on a children's book, she placed her substantial knowledge of the children's publishing industry at my feet and not only helped me to make the manuscript better, she became a tireless advocate for the book, recommending it to OBP.

If my three-chapter extract hadn't come with her recommendation, they might not have read it as quickly as they did and it may still be languishing in the slush pile. So yes, that's something I want to make clear from the off - I don't think they would have published me if they hadn't like what they read (they are a business after all and businesses don't tend to pity-publish) but having the support of someone like Gráinne was enormously helpful in getting my manuscript noticed in the first place. If you're a children's or YA writer looking for some guidance, definitely check her out.

So yeah, that's it. That's all my news for now. I was in a very bad place for a while (not just for the pandemic) and in the course of a few weeks, things have really turned a corner for me. Not just with regard to the book, but in other areas of my life as well. If you're in a similar position, all I can say is this - please keep trying and keep writing. You truly just need one lucky break and you never know when that might happen so don't give up.

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