This much I know: Denise Deegan

I always wanted to be a nurse. While I was nursing, if you’d told me I’d end up writing novels, I’d have taken your temperature.

My earliest memory is of a colourful neighbour chasing his (supposed to be parked) car down our sloped driveway, shouting, ‘Mrs Deegan, my car.’

Writing my first book was a lifestyle choice that only came about after endless discussions with my husband. I quit my PR business to be at home with our children and write. I have always treated writing as my career. I work very hard at it, maybe too hard.

I’d have a lot more free time if I didn’t tweet so much. It’s my guilty pleasure. What free time I do have is spent being a chauffeur, personal organiser, slave and cook. I do sometimes manage a swim, a walk, a game of tennis, a night out.

I believe in a creator. And I believe that by being creative we are following in the way of the original creator. I believe in good.

I’d love to see a big change in our education system. My son goes to a school that actively builds a sense of community and compassion amongst the students. I wish all schools did this.

I’d advise any would-be writers to do it. First, because you love it. Then be determined.

If you told me I’d have to stick rigidly to a routine, I wouldn’t do it. Being a parent, though, means routine. I try to get my writing done when the children are at school and be a mum when they’re not.

My biggest writing challenge is to tear myself away from the computer. There’s a balance between being productive and creative. The trick for me is to keep stopping — to go for a walk, a swim, do some fascinating housework…

I don’t think about actually dying. But I do think of how fleeting life is, so that I do live it.

Working on hospital wards at the age of 17 had an enormous impact on me. It taught me to look at the bigger picture, to see problems in perspective. I really do have a ‘it could be worse’ philosophy. I am also still hugely interested in health, in the logic of how the body works and how it can go wrong.

So far, my big life lesson has been — do what you love. Be with the people you love. And realise you are loving.

At the moment I’m reading Lord of the Flies. I loved the movie, the whole idea of leaving a class of school boys on a deserted island and letting human nature take over.

My tear ducts are on the active side. I cry at movies. I cry at books. I cry when writing. I cry at funerals even if I didn’t know the people well. I have a terrible habit of really imagining how hard it must be for a person in a given situation.

Apparently, my worst habit is telling my husband to stop snoring.

I have three great heroes, all communicators: Winston Churchill who fired up a nation to stand against Hitler when no one else could or would. Oscar Wilde for incredible stories and wit. Oprah for achieving what she has against so many odds and never thinking anything was too difficult.

Becoming a parent has made me more patient, more philosophical, less selfish. It has to. It has also made me understand more about human nature. It has made me love in a way I have never loved before.

My Twitter (@denisedeegan) and Facebook (butterflynovels) obsession began once I started writing about teenagers. It is amazing to be able to chat to my readers and answer anything they want to know.

I have had more feedback from The Butterfly Novels than I ever had for any of my books written purely for adults. The oldest Butterfly Novel fan that I know of is 84.

Denise Deegan’s latest book And For Your Information is the second in her teen series The Butterfly Novels.


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