It’s always a pleasure to meet new authors, and I am specially proud to to entertain Emma Mooney today. She has recently had her first book published by Crooked Cat, and the quality of her work is therefore absolutely guaranteed.
Emma – I have read your astonishing interview with the Daily Record about what made you write “A Beautiful Game”. Do you plan to write more books relating to the experiences of children?
The book I’m currently working on is called ‘Beat The Drum’ and it explores sectarianism through the eyes of Lizzie, a young girl growing up in Central Scotland in the 80s. She’s a strong, sparky character and I’m really enjoying getting to know her.
I think young people often have a clearer and less complicated view on issues than many adults have, and yet they are rarely asked their opinion or given the opportunity to voice their concerns. There’s a lot we can learn from them.
I see that “A Beautiful Game” started life as a short story. What other stories have you written / published?
When my children were very young I struggled to find the time to write lengthy pieces and so I tried to refine my craft through writing poetry and short stories. I was determined to write a novel but knew that I’d have to wait until all three of my children were at school. So when Laura, my youngest, started school six years ago I began writing my first novel. A Beautiful Game is the third novel I’ve written in that time but I’m happy to put the first two down as learning experiences. They now live in the cupboard under the stairs.
Would you like to expound on the benefits and caveats of belonging to a writers’ group?
Writing can often be a solitary and lonely undertaking and so it’s great if you can find a group of fellow writers to bounce ideas around with. I really enjoy discussing other people’s work and I find their commitment and hard work very inspiring, which in turn motivates me to get on with any projects that I’m working on. I’m always happy to accept any comments or criticisms on my work in progress and I believe being open to suggestions can be a very positive experience.
How did you find Crooked Cat?
I was in the very early stages of preparing to send A Beautiful Game out to agents and publishers when I saw a post on social media which said Crooked Cat was open to submissions for three days only. I looked them up and immediately knew that I wanted to send my novel to them. I loved their energy, enthusiasm and their attitude towards publishing. I spent the full three days polishing my submission before pressing the send button.
I agree with you that Crooked Cat and their family of authors are very special. What are your plans for the future of your literary career?
I get grumpy at the end of a day if I haven’t found time to write, even if it’s only five minutes grabbed whilst waiting in the car, and so I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be writing. I often think of writing as my therapy.
I love trying out new ideas and I hope that I continue to experiment and try out different voices. My plan at the moment is to continue writing about subjects that are important to me and I guess I’ll just have to see where that road ends up.
What books have most influenced your life, or your writing?
My favourite books are the ones that stay with you long after you’ve finished them. These tend to be books which successfully draw you into the world of the character and include ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, ‘The Book Thief’ and ‘The Universe Versus Alex Woods’, but there are so many more – too many to mention!
I love reading books that experiment creatively with voice and structure and I recently enjoyed ‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer. I’m currently reading ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ by M. R. Carey which is turning out to be a very gripping and surprising read.
Apart from having your family, what is the proudest moment of your life so far?
My three children make me proud every day and of course I was extremely proud when I received a copy of A Beautiful Game through the post but there is another incident which stands out. I have been a primary teacher for the past twenty years and earlier this year I was badly hurt in an accident in my classroom when I intervened and prevented a young boy from being killed. My recovery has been long and difficult but I’m quietly proud to know that there’s a family out there who still have their child because of my actions. Nothing is more important than the people around us.
Oh my … I am full of questions, but perhaps now is not the time. Maybe herein lies the beginnings of yet another book – but, to change the subject: I see you’re something of a traveller. Care to describe a place you’ve visited, and what it meant to you?
I visited Rome with my family last year and fell I love with the city. We rented an apartment close to the Vatican and so we walked through St Peter’s Square at all different times of the day. I’m not a religious person but it was a very special place and it was fascinating to watch people’s reactions when they arrived.
The extremes between the vast wealth of the church and the poverty of the people begging in the street is something I’ve tried to write about since returning home and I’m sure it’ll appear in a novel at some point. Before we came home I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and I definitely hope to return one day.
If there were no barriers, what would you like to do / be / have?
What a great question!
We have a memory jar in our house that we fill with little notes scribbled on squares of coloured paper which try to capture the little moments in our day that make us happy – things like seeing a rainbow or catching up with a friend. I suppose I’m trying to teach my children that life is about today, and that we’re lucky to have the things we have.
The only request I’d have is for life to slow down because my children seem to be growing up in the blink of an eye!
Thank you for your company today, Emma. It’s been great getting to know a little about you.
You can find out more about Emma by following these links: