A Donegal journalist who has turned her hand to creative writing is launching her first novel this weekend.
Written in Irish, An tIriseoir (The journalist) is the the debut novel by Gweedore-based journalist Michelle Nic Pháidín, who is a journalist for the Donegal Democrat.
Based on the story of a Donegal journalist who leaves her unhappy past at home to work in Dublin, Michelle wrote the book, after undertaking a creative writing course with Foras na Gaeilge in which she was mentored by writer Gabriel Rosenstock.
Impressed with her work, he submitted some of the writing to a publisher and the result was a request from Dublin-based publisher Coise Life to write a novel.
While she had written stories before and entered writing competitions, this was her first foray into writing a full novel.
The book is being launched this weekend in Belfast by RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta journalist Áine Ní Bhreisleáin.
After completing the creative writing course online, the chance came for Michelle to put what she had learnt into practice very quickly. “It was great to do it with someone like Gabriel Rosenstock. What he did was he sent a sample of my writing to Cois Life. And they approached me and asked me to write a book.
“ I had no intention of doing it but it transpired like that. And Gabriel has been very supportive the whole way through.”
The places the novel is set are very familiar to the writer. “It is about a young journalist from Gweedore who had an unhappy life, I suppose,” she said.
”There are issues of domestic abuse and she had a son and she is trying to escape her life in Gweedore, so she goes to work in Dublin. She is sent home on a story which is breaking in Gweedore and it transpires that every single thing she tried to avoid is part of the story she is trying to deal with. So it raises moral and ethical questions - what she can do and how she can deal with it.”
Michelle has worked on national newspapers in Belfast and Dublin and she says she drew on characters she knew from her working life and issues facing journalists in creating the story. “I used two people to make one person. In terms of journalism I focused on how journalism is changing and how social media is leading the way and how fast paced journalism has become because of social media. That is a big part of the book - the changing world of media.”
The whole experience has been very enjoyable and she intends to write more fiction, continuing with short stories.
She has also been asked to write a follow up to her debut novel which she will finish next year.
“It is short and it is easy to read. That’s what I wanted. I wanted people to be able to sit back and read it between Donegal and Dublin on the bus, and that is a definite - you will be able to do that.”
An tIriseoir is published by Cois Life Teo.