Without ever seeking a publishing deal or approaching a literary agent, a group of Co Cork teenagers are about to see their debut work in print — and it’s guaranteed to be widely read by their peers.
The members of Ballyvourney Teen Book Club, under the guidance of author Kristin Gleeson, collaborated on a book entitled The Othersiders, which was published on Amazon as an ebook by An Tig Beag Press in 2015.
The group, three of whom sat their Leaving Certificate in Coláiste Ghobnatan in June, were stunned to see their work turning up as a text on this year’s Leaving Cert Applied English and Communication paper.
Since none of the three sat the applied paper, they did not find themselves in the position of answering questions on their own work.
However, they will now be able to see part of their story in print as the Educational Company of Ireland is about to publish the paper as a study aid for future Leaving Cert students.
Part of The Othersiders was published on the 2017 paper, along with an extract from Ms Gleeson’s blog, describing the book club and how the story came into being. It originated, she says, because the teenagers attending the club “love to write as well as read books”.
“I decided to try a new approach and began by asking each member of the club to create a character,” she said. “The variety of characters they created was amazing. There was a bluehaired girl from the future and a lad from another world with no name, a geeky musician, a painfully shy girl, and an artist.
“Though the characters were all teenaged, they were all vastly different. When the characters were fully developed, I challenged the teens to create a plot that would link all the characters together. No easy task. They rose to the challenge beautifully and threw around many ideas. In the end they came up with a fantasy and horror story about a threat from another world.”
Ms Gleeson, the author of a range of historical novels including Selkie Dreams and In Praise of the Bees collated The Othersiders and published it on Amazon, with profits from sales going to Breast Cancer Ireland.
Students who sat this year’s Applied English and Communication exam were asked to write a description of how they imagined the appearance of characters from The Othersiders.
They were then tasked with describing in their own words the effects that a dream about a menacing clown has on a character in the passage, and to identify how the language in the story creates a frightening atmosphere.
For the teenagers — Liam Ó Conaill, Roza Paterek, Caitríona Ní Loingsigh, Caitríona Ní Chonaill, and Danu Feachem — having their work analysed by their peers and being on the other side of the examination process was described as “surreal”.
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