Please introduce yourself Eamonn, and tell us something unique about you as a person first and then as a writer.
Hi, my name is Eamonn Sheridan I left school at fourteen years of age and shortly after sitting the State junior exam in nine subjects. My lowest mark was 88% and the Head Teacher sent for my father and told him that it would be a tragedy if I didn’t go on to Secondary School. He had already arranged an interview for me with a school in Dublin City centre. It was necessary at that time to sit and entrance exam’ and pay yearly fees. The head teacher at this school was so impressed with the results of the exam he put me in a scholarship class where I could qualify for free secondary education on passing the scholarship exam’ at the end of the year. After spending two weeks in the class I was called into the heads office where he informed me that Dublin Corporation (the body which funded the scholarship) refused to accept me because I was a month over the qualifying age. No amount of arguing with the Corporation could persuade them to relax the rule and make an exception in my case. So, my parents could not afford the fees and I was obliged to leave school and get a job.
What events led to you becoming a writer?
Many years later, realising I needed better qualifications I funded my own education and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree. The senior lecturer stated during the course that one could do no better that to leave a legacy of oneself by writing a book. This sparked a desire within me to do exactly that. So I gave much thought to what I could write about and decided that since my father had fought in the War of Independence for Irish Freedom and later in the Civil War that this would be a good place to start. I sat him down and questioned him at length. His story was so interesting I thought it needed to be told. I am also one of twelve children and had a great love for my hard working mother that I felt it would only be fair to include her and the rest of the family.
Did you ever think about walking away and not finishing it, or was it something you knew you would always come back to?
I never stopped until I had the book finished. I would go to my office at home after dinner and work ‘til bedtime and spent all of my spare time writing and editing.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
A number of events were the inspiration for writing the book apart from the comments made by the lecturer at college. I had been writing poetry and saving it. I read extensively particularly military history and I felt that my family’s story was as interesting as many of the books I read.
You did shelter these characters from life experiences of your parents, and they must be painful sometime but you brush your knees off, and you kept going, and maybe your life is even richer for having had those experiences.
How did you balance that?
I felt blessed by being born to caring and loving parents and to be with my brothers and sisters who were all talented in one form or another particularly with good singing voices. We were poor family and there were some tough times but we battled on and didn’t complain. I joined the Irish Army Reserve at age sixteen as a private soldier. I rose through the ranks and retired as a captain. I had learned quite a bit about army life from my father who had also served with the British 8th. Army in North Africa, Sicily and Italy during the 2nd. World War. I was resilient obedient and fit and a natural born leader and this all stood to me.
In your writing process of Me Father Was A Hero And Me Mother Is A Saint did you let the book stew for a while?
I spent many hours in thought about the book before I actually got around to writing it. I drew up a plan with the salient points which would form the various chapters on paper before making a start.
Your book have touched so many people and inspired people to remember forgotten Ireland. Do you write primarily for you or do you start a book with your audience in mind?
Initially, I wrote the book for me and really didn’t care if it was ever published. However, the more I worked on it the more I realised that other people would be interested. So having worked in Sales and Marketing I drew up a marketing plan.
In terms of your writing style, will you consider to change from memoir to fiction? Do you prefer one? Is one easier than the other?
I am interested in Fiction as I read quite a lot of it anyway. I find fiction harder because one has to manufacture the characters, so to speak.
So what are some of your favourite authors, and what books are you reading now?
My favourite writers are: John Le Carre, John Connolly, Daniel Steel, Tim Pat Coogan and Patricia Cornwell.
What are your plans for the future, will you dabble in other writing styles? Do you have any work in progress at the moment?
I am presently working on a novel and I am about half way through.
Any other things that you’d want your readers to know, that I haven’t asked, or that you hope your readers take away?
I would like readers to know that lack of early formal secondary education should not be a barrier to expressing their feelings in writing , whether it be poetry or otherwise. I am also interested in Art and paint every week. I find it’s a wonderful way of relaxing. Above all, never give up.
Link to buy the book Me Father Was A Hero And Me Mother Is A Saint