Goodness Gracious Granny! 17 February 2016 – Posted in: Uncategorised

Last week we had a great chat with one of our youngest and newest authors, Máire Zepf. This week, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to find out how a more experienced writer goes about her work – we welcomed in Áine Ní Ghlinn.  She discussed her other titles: Daideo, Tromluí and many other books when she came by to record her most recent book, Hata Zú Mhamó. It’s quite the adventure story, as Mamó (Granny) escapes from the nursing home with her two friends, aided and abetted by her granddaughter, Siobhán, and all of them mad to spend the day at the zoo! Have a listen to an audio clip from the book here, but first, we asked her a few questions…

Mamó is a real character in every sense of the word. How did you think her and her adventures up?

Mamó isn’t based on any one person but she is based on a medley of different people. My mother spent her final years in a nursing home. She didn’t suffer from dementia but she sometimes got mini-strokes and for a half an hour or so she was a lost soul!
Long after my mother’s death I began to think about the funny incidents that occurred during her final years. Little by little, the seeds were sown! Although my mother bore no actual resemblance to Mamó, she certainly helped me to create a credible character. As for the events of the story – imagination all the way!

Tell us who’s your secret favourite!

Mamó is probably my favourite because she’s such a fun character. I firmly believe that age is only a number – nothing more. If a woman in her nineties wants to play on the slide or ride on an elephant – and is healthy enough to do so – I see no reason to stop her!

What sort of research was involved in writing this – quite involved – story?

Lots and lots! The first stage of the research related to my memories of my mother and of various others I met in nursing homes over the years. I’m a people watcher and I love to study and observe people so that the characters I create are real and credible! Certain aspects of Jeaic and Beirtí are based on a whole medley of people rather than on any specific person.

The second stage of the research involved a trip to the Zoo. Two of my adult sons thought a ramble in the Zoo would be fun. One brought a friend along. I explained the story (which was almost complete at that stage) and asked them to watch out for any possibilities that might add to the story. We had a great laugh and their various ideas added colour to the story.

I spent some time that day looking at the layout of the zoo and I brought a map home with me so the order of events would be accurate. I spent a while studying the elephant ‘area’ to ensure that everything that went on there in the story might actually be possible (even if unlikely!)

You can listen to the audiobook of Hata Zú Mhamó here >>

Áine will be back next week, when she’ll give us her tips on how to start writing, and reveals the challenges she dreads most and how she overcomes them…


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