Beginner's Pluck


John planned to study journalism, but shortly before starting he had an accident, contracted MRSA, and ended up with a heart condition. In the two years he was sick, he got a taste for writing. At 21, he went to London to college, and since then he has been a teacher.

“I’d wanted to write for a while, but I kept making excuses. I didn’t tell anyone until the summer of 2005 or 6. From then, for the next two summers I sat down from 8am until 4pm each day and did it. I wrote whenever I could.”

The novel was published by Somerville Press in 2008, on a limited print run. Dalkey Archive Press then bought the rights, and it was published in America and England in 2010.

Who is John Toomey?

Date of birth: September 9, 1975.

Education: Clonkeen College. University of North London. Degree in English. Then post-grad teaching degree.

Home: Dublin.

Family: Wife Máire. Children Oscar, three, and Ruby, nine months.

The Day Job: English teacher at Clonkeen College.

Hobbies: Cycling, listening to music. “The lyrics of Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan influence my writing.”

Favourite Writers: Martin Amis, and Julian Barnes. “I also love Dickens.”

Second Novel: Gypsy Soul, to be published in May 2012, is about an Irishman dealing with a difficult relationship in London.

“I’m happy with it now,” says John, “but writing it has been a slow, tortuous business.”

Top Writing Tip: “Just sit down and do it. The discipline of sitting at a desk is where it all starts.”



Sleepwalker. Dalkey Archive Press. €14.50. Kindle: Not available.

The novel follows young Adonis businessman Stuart Byrne through a week of drunken chaos and denial. Set in Celtic Tiger Dublin, the novel explores the emptiness in lives of people who could have anything. “In a word, the novel is about disillusion.”

The Verdict: Raw, original and clever.


Open your mind to making an entrance

Sleeping next to a loud snorer? Here’s how to finally get some peace at night

Seven blissful places to go on a mother-daughter date this weekend

Appliance of Science: Why do we age?

More From The Irish Examiner