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My grandfather McLaughlin was a 'seanachie' – an Irish teller of tales. My earliest memories are listening to the music of his lyrical brogue spinning grand stories of kings and castles, battles and banishments, magic and miracles.
Inheriting his love of storytelling, I wrote my first novella when I was seven years old and immediately decided to become a writer when I grew up. Taught by Grandda to think big, my youthful fantasies invariably involved me dashing off the great American novel in some Greenwich Village garret, hand carrying it to a New York publisher who would proclaim it brilliant and launch my career to both critical acclaim and commercial success, after which I'd move to Cape Cod and live among all the other rich and famous novelists.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way. I've written advertising copy extolling the wonders of everything from household appliances to diamonds to tyres. For a few years, I wrote for a large metropolitan newspaper, only to feel more and more constrained by the rigid parameters of fact. It was then I reminded myself what I really wanted to do: make up stories I could share with others.
Hardly a day goes by that I don't realise that by exploring my favourite themes of love, loyalty, family and redemption, I'm still following in my grandfather's footsteps. In all his tales, heroes and heroines ventured forth on perilous quests against seemingly impossible odds, slaying myriad dragons along the way. Tyrants were toppled, lovers united, the wicked were punished, justice prevailed in the end and the good always lived happily ever after. And isn’t that what the best stories are all about?