From my Mind to Your Page

by Erin Curran

Growing up in Crossgar, County Down, my older sister Alana and I always wrote together. I have vivid memories from our childhood of us sitting side by side on one another’s beds, making up stories. Ones that always come to mind when I think of this are classics such as ‘Summer Holidays’, ‘Counters Karen’, and our pirate storybook which, if I recall correctly, was very creatively named, ‘Pirates’. Back then, we were more into it for drawing the pictures, but as we grew older it slowly developed into creating narratives and writing out our ideas.

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We were influenced by our father, Martin Curran. He wrote some fantastic stories when we were kids. Alana and I used to pass the printed pages between us as we read through his work, and I think that was a large source of inspiration for us both. The idea of having a physical book, with someone I knew having wrote it, excited me, whether it be my father, my sister, or even a friend of mine. I didn’t imagine at the time that the person who achieved such a thing would be me, but here we are now.

Alana got published when she was sixteen, when I was still in High School. I was ecstatic for her, and I don’t think the thought of submitting my own work properly crossed my mind until I witnessed her success. I was an avid reader from the beginning of my High School life. Anyone who remembers me from those days knows that I was practically psychotic for The Hunger Games. Reading incubated my desire to write and I always found myself excited for the school day to end so that I could get home to continue my work. I cherished my laptop like one would cherish a baby, because that was where all my writing was.

Following in the footsteps of someone else can be extremely daunting. Big shoes to fill; following on the legacy; doing the family proud, that kind of thing. This was always prevalent in my mind whenever the thought of submitting my manuscript came up. Mainly because Alana already had three books published by the time she was twenty, which were massive hits.

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I found the possibility of publishing a novel after my sister extremely scary. What if it wasn’t good enough? What if it wasn’t as well received? Would my writing dream come crashing down around me if I dared to submit my work? I was reminded of the drawing and writing competitions my sister always won in school, and I shuddered to imagine if my own writing talent was simply a delusion as I had never been successful when it came to such contests.

That is why it took me so long to submit anything that I wrote. I submitted my book, The Seven, at the beginning of 2018, and I did it for many reasons. One of them being that I loved the characters so much that I wanted to share them with the world. The main protagonist, and whose perspective we view most of the story through, is called Thursday, and I enjoyed every second of writing her. I knew I had to try to give everyone else the opportunity to experience her. This wasn’t the only reason, though . . .

My book comprises of a group of seven people, and over half of them are LGBTQ+. This was important to me because, even now, I don’t think there’s enough books out there where people from my community are thoroughly represented. There are numerous stories about coming out and being accepted, even some about struggling when not fully accepted. What I want to put out there, however, are stories where LGBTQ+ people simply exist. Living their lives; breathing air; experiencing the world like everyone else. The story doesn’t revolve around their sexuality, in the same way my life doesn’t revolve around myself being a lesbian. It is simply a factor of their character, amongst a plethora of traits that build up who they are. I want young people to read my books and see that we aren’t something to be weary of. We’re people, just like them, and we live and love just the same.

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When Pegasus Publishers accepted my work and expressed their desire to publish it, I was awestruck. People were going to be able to read my work. I was going to leave a legacy behind, a book that will exist long after I’m gone, that people can read and-hopefully-enjoy. It was a year long process. I got notified in May or June of 2018 and my book wasn’t released until April 2019. I had to keep this secret for so long, I believed I was going to burst from the pressure.

 

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Now my book is out there, like I had always wanted, for the world to read and judge as they see fit. Watersone’s in Belfast have stocked The Seven on their shelves, and as it stands now, there is only one copy left in stock on Amazon, with more to come soon if enough interest is shown. It’s rather surreal, and I still haven’t fully digested where I now am. If I could take up writing full time, as my job, that would be a dream come true. Alana and I joke that we’re the modern-day Bronte Sisters (however, we don’t categorise our work in the same league as the actual Bronte Sisters; we’re not that vain!)

A quote I always return to is by Helen Hayes and states, “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” Trust me, there’s nothing truer. I started with drawing massive pictures, with only small lines of dialogue at the bottom. You would have thought I was writing a play with no directions instead of a storybook. Then I evolved into writing with drawings along the edges, kind of like a Jacqueline Wilson novel. When I went into High School I wrote fanfiction for Doctor Who, The Hunger Games, and The Mortal Instruments. (Fanfiction can come off as cringy to a lot of people, but my fanfiction is where I honed my skill in the best). Until one day, I was writing full blown stories featuring characters of my own.

 

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My point is, it doesn’t matter if you think that you’re writing isn’t up to scratch, just go for it. Oh, and read. Never stop reading. Nothing has enriched my life more than reading has done. I believe that being able to experience stories in our minds, simply from words marked on paper, is a beautiful thing. It seems like nothing, but the fact that we are capable of such creativity and imagination is a signature of our humanity. The very fact that I have contributed a book that people can now experience in a similar way is a feeling that I cannot even begin to explain.

Never stop reading, and never stop creating.

The Seven can be purchased off the Pegasus Publishing Website; Amazon; Waterstone’s; and Barnes and Noble. You can also find me on Facebook under Erin Curran Author or @SheWritesStuff if you want to keep up with all the news about my future work and the success of The Seven.

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