Guest Post: The First Piece I Ever Wrote by Clare Dowling

Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Irish bestseller Clare Dowling's new novel is warm,witty and refreshingly honest. Whether you're a mother, a sister, a daughter or a grandmother, this hilarious story of teenage pregnancy and mistaken identity is guaranteed to have you laughing out loud.

Every family has its ups and downs ...

Aisling Brady is miserable. So is her husband Mossy. The three kids are too. Yet nobody dares say a thing. Instead the Bradys keep their heads down and grimly look forward to another miserable Christmas in Dublin.

What Aisling doesn't know is that this year, they will get the most unexpected gift of all. One that will bring joy and heartbreak, hope and a string of sleepless nights.

As their world is turned upside down, questions have to be asked. But are the Bradys ready to face the truth about themselves? And what each of them has done?

I'm excited to be part of the blog tour today for Clare Dowling's A Special Delivery where I'm sharing a guest post about the first piece Clare ever wrote.

A Special Delivery is published by Headline and is out now.

The First Piece I Ever Wrote

… Was for the comic Topper at the ripe of old age of ten. As we lived in rural Ireland, the local newsagent would have to order it in, along with the Beano and Jackie (considered a bit racy) and other assorted publications for other members of the family. They’d all be tied up in a bundle with a bit of string, which we’d pick up after Mass on Sunday, along with a packet of Toffee Pops. I’d spend the day reading up on the latest adventures of Tricky Dicky and Hungry Horace, the boy who could never be filled (a terrible affliction).

The Topper had a readers’ page, full of jokes, letters and poems, which you could submit pieces for, and win a small prize. So I decided to make up a funny story. I agonised about it for days – probably an early manifestation of writer’s block – and sent it in. I didn’t tell anybody in case I jinxed it, but also because I was embarrassed that I had notions of being good enough to be published in the Topper.

Many tense Sundays followed, and endless Masses and Toffee Pops. I had given up completely on any hopes of my little story seeing the light of day, until I opened the Topper one Sunday and it was there. In black and white, on the Reader’s Page! Well, the excitement; the glory. I’ll never forget my ten-year-old pride in seeing my piece in print.
The page was carefully cut out, maybe to be framed, although it never made it that far. I informed everybody I was going to be a writer; that my path was set, and they’d better watch out because I was going to be the next Harold Robbins (he was big at the time).

The celebrations reached a peak about a week later when the prize I’d won arrived in the post – a lovely big pencil and pen set, everything in red and silver, very fancy looking. It was a really nice prize for an aspiring young writer and nobody was allowed to borrow so much as a rubber from that set.

The Topper comic with my funny story in it is long lost, unfortunately. So is the pencil and pen set. But the thrill of seeing my work in black and white hasn’t faded, and I’m very grateful for that early encouragement to be creative.

And they still make Toffee Pops!

Thanks to Clare for the post!

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