Beginner’s Pluck

Shauna Gilligan

Shauna has always written. She wrote poems and stories as a child, and in UCD she joined a writing group. After college she travelled to Spain, Mexico, India and the UK.

“I always had my notebooks, and I started lots of things, but I didn’t finish anything. I married, and when my first child was born, I got into writing more seriously. I signed up for an MPhil in writing at the University of Glamorgan. That really helped.

“It was workshop based and that really suited me. It gave me the structure and the discipline, without the strict teaching of the classroom. After that, I converted to a PhD investigating how people write about difficult subjects like suicide. I’ve nearly finished that.”

Who is Shauna Gilligan ?

Date/place of birth: Nov 31, 1972 / Dublin.

Education: St MacDara’s VEC, Templeogue. UCD. English Literature and History.

Home: Celbridge, County Kildare.

Family: Husband Xuan. Children, Isolina, 8, and Fionn, 5.

The day job: Admin in Adult Education. “And I teach novel writing in adult education.”

Hobbies: Baking. “I love it.”

Favourite writers: Alice Munro, Clarice Lispector, Nuala Ní Chonchuír.

Second novel: “I’m working on two different ones; one set in Mexico, the other in Spain.”

Top writing tip: Let the writing be.

Website: www.shaunaswriting.com

THE DEBUT

Happiness Comes from Nowhere. Ward Wood Publishing, €13.20; Kindle, €7

Dirk Horn is striving for happiness. An artist at heart, he works in a library, and is constantly searching for something more. This wonderful debut follows his life, from his birth in the early seventies, through his school days and beyond. His story is interlinked with those of his parents, and his aunt, as they, too, strive to find life’s meaning.

“My starting point was investigating suicide, and what might make someone get to that point, but the novel became much more. It’s about finding your place in the world.”

The verdict: Fresh and original. The episodic structure suits the subject. Shauna Gilligan is a name to watch.

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