‘There are fights and misunderstandings and new relationships (and a happy ending).’
By Sylvia Hehir
Published by Garmoran Books
Firstly, how are you doing? How are you coping with lockdown?
As I usually work from home, the routine of my day is not that different, especially as we live in such an amazing place and I can walk out of my door to beautiful areas. However, I hate not seeing family or having friends visit. Then there’s the big horrible scary bit forever lurking to swamp you. So, not a big fan really.
Are you managing to read? What books have been getting you through?
I was so looking forward to The Mirror and the Light and I have started it but I was finding it difficult to totally escape in to that world, and I don’t want to spoil the experience, so I’ve set it aside for the moment. I’ve got a lot to read for Garmoran and that helps as it is working towards positive outcomes. I’m also currently searching for my Roobarb and Custard Annual to help cheer me up.
You are just about to release your second YA novel, Deleted, at the end of the month. What draws you to writing YA books?
It is a time of life that stays with you, isn’t it. Everything turned up to maximum. All those things experienced for the first time. Plus, I’ve been a teacher in secondary schools for over thirty years so I have spent a lot of time with teenagers. I loved reading the Georgia Nicolson stories (as an adult!) and I dream of writing like Louise Rennison.
What were your favourite books when you were a teenager?
You have to remember I am very old. I only had comics to read at home and any books I did read were generally from school. My own choices that followed on from those include Laurie Lee’s adventures in Spain, Lady Chatterley, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Make of those what you will. Being in an amateur dramatic club I was also fond of reading play scripts, especially Irish writers such as J.M. Synge.
Can you tell us a little bit of what to expect from Deleted?
Deleted is unapologetically a teen romance, delivered with a light-hearted tone. The hint of mystery in the story provides our main character, Dee, with a few uncomfortable moments as she tries to work out what is happening with her new mobile. There are fights and misunderstandings and new relationships (and a happy ending). Themes of prejudice and belonging come through too.
Both your novels have their young protagonists in fairly remote settings. How do you think the teenage experience differs in rural settings?
I do think growing up with just a handful of classmates in a rural setting is a very different growing up experience to that of youngsters in an urban environment: Social events, opportunities for friendships, everyone in a small community knowing your business. However, taking steps towards adulthood can still be scary and difficult, whatever our surroundings.
Not only are you writing, but you’re embarking on a publishing career too. Can you tell us about Garmaron Publishing?
Starting Garmoran Publishing with a few other local writers is an amazing project and we’re very excited for our titles. Indie publishers have the flexibility to approach and take part in the industry on different terms. It is very difficult for unknown authors to be ‘seen’ by agents and big publishing houses. Here at Garmoran, we are committed to giving our authors the support they need to make real the possibility of bringing their work to readers.
Has anything you’ve learned in starting publishing influenced your writing?
I will avoid writing tongue twisting phrases and sentences if I’m going to narrate the audio!
What’s next for you?
Delivered, the sequel to Deleted, is due out in November 2020. I’m very lucky to have Hilary James provide another fab cover image and I’m looking forward to sharing Dee’s best friend, Frankie’s story. After that, I’ve got a climate change novel in progress (remember when that was our big concern!) And I’m desperate to complete a graphic novel I’ve got planned.
Garmoran is also currently producing Stories from Home, an ebook short story collection, with proceeds going to a Covid-19 relief fund. So, lots to do!
Deleted by Sylvia Hehir is published by Garmoran Books, priced £8.99