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"Anyone can be a writer"

Wednesday 08 June 2022

"Anyone can be a writer"

Wednesday 08 June 2022


Three local authors will be speaking at the Guernsey Literary Festival this month and one of them told Express that "anyone can be a writer".

Tish Delaney, Jenny O’Brien and Ben Hinshaw will be discussing their routes to becoming published authors at the Guille Alles Library on 9, 14 and 16 June respectively.

Ms O’Brien, author of the Detective Gaby Darin series of crime thrillers, Boy Brainy and the Englishwoman series, had an unconventional start to writing. 

“My first book was Boy Brainy (a children’s mystery fantasy book), which I started writing in the back of my nurses’ notebook when I was on a coffee break on shift one evening,” she said. 

“I experienced bullying as a child and covering that subject was a way for me to get it out of my system.” 

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Pictured: Tish Delaney will be speaking at the Guille Alles Library on 9 June.

Ms O’Brien has had books published across multiple genres including romance and thrillers. 

“I never intended on becoming a writer; I just write whatever I want to write,” she said. 

“The inspiration for my writing can come from anywhere: conversations with people, something I’ve read or something I’ve heard on the radio. One of the ideas for the Detective Gaby Darin series came from a nightmare I’d had after the body of Mikus Alps was found in the burnt-out car. The story is not about that, but it evolved out of the nightmare I had about it.”

Ms O’Brien said that she has not encountered ‘writer’s block’.

“I think writer’s block is something people may get if they are not writing as prolifically, perhaps only if they are writing one book every few years,” she said. 

“I have had times where I have had to leave a chapter and come back to it later, but that’s part of the process. One of the things I like to compare writing to is knitting; if you make a mistake knitting then you have to undo what can sometimes be weeks of work to correct it, whereas with writing it’s just a case of rearranging things or deleting some words. 

“Writing is a brilliant hobby, it’s less brilliant as a career because then you are writing for other people rather than for yourself, but it’s still a great way to be creative.”

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Pictured: Jenny O'Brien will be speaking at Guille Alles Library on 14 June.

Ms O’Brien said that “anyone can be a writer”.

“You don’t need to have a degree or qualifications or have come from any particular background; writing is for everyone,” she said.

“It’s so true what Joanne Harris (‘Chocolat’ author) said: ‘a writer is someone who writes’. You don’t need to have your work published, you just need something to write on. The only thing stopping you is yourself.

"The best advice I can give anyone who wants to be a writer is to read as much as possible, in any genre, even if it's just the newspaper."

Islander Tish Delaney’s novel Before my Actual Heart Breakshas been published by Hutchinson Heinemann and has been announced as the winner of the UK Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, scooping a prize of £2,500. 

The book is described as ‘a powerful but unusual love story, set against the madness of life in the 1960s and 70s in Northern Ireland during the Troubles’. Novelist Alex Wheatle, who presented the award, called it “an extraordinary debut”. 

Ms Delaney will be speaking at the Guille Alles Library from 18:00 to 19:00 on 9 June. 

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Pictured: 'Exactly What You Mean' is Ben Hinshaw's first published novel. 

‘Exactly What You Mean’ author, Ben Hinshaw, will conclude the local author talks on 16 June at 18:00. 

His novel, which he previously discussed with Express has received critical acclaim, including from double-Booker Prizewinner Hilary Mantel.

Ms Mantel commented: “Sentence by sentence, Ben Hinshaw offers wit, sensitivity and sharp observation. 

Then slowly the reader sees the grand design; the intricate, braided storylines, sustained with energy and relish. It is entertaining, and something more - truly involving, like a whole novel sequence cleverly condensed.

Tickets for all three events are available at the Guernsey Literary Festival website.

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