Brian Grehan is from Dublin. He first fundraised for Sightsavers in 2010, donating the proceeds from his book of short stories and poems, ‘The Well Travelled Road’. He has just published his first novel, ‘The Leenane Inspector’, and is again generously supporting Sightsavers with book sales.
What motivated you to fundraise for Sightsavers?
My first book of short stories and poems, ‘The Well Travelled Road’, was accepted by New Generation Publishing in the UK in 2010. The UK Arts Council covered the cost of printing this book, as part of its support for new authors. Because I had been writing for pleasure, and not as a career, and with no expenses to cover, it felt right to donate the proceeds of the book to charity. I received a flyer advertising Sightsavers at that time. The obvious connection between writing and reading books, and the gift of sight, seemed perfectly appropriate, and I became a Sightsavers fundraiser.
How did you begin writing?
I was always a big reader, and English was my forte at school. In my early 60s, my wife suggested enrolling in a creative writing course at Newpark Comprehensive. A year later, I joined Longtable writing group, made up of past pupils from Newpark. We’re all aspiring authors, but there’s a social aspect too. I enjoy immensely the company of the group. It has hugely influenced me to develop my writing skills and produce more.
What first made you decide to publish?
Initially, for ‘The Well Travelled Road’, I didn’t decide to publish so much as grasp the opportunity for support from the UK Arts Council to publish the poems and short stories I had already written. This also became an opportunity to fundraise for Sightsavers, which made it seem like destiny. ‘The Leenane Inspector’ started as an idea for a short story about pollution in Killary Fjord. 2011 saw me on crutches and with limited movement for a few months, and I decided to make best use of this time to try to expand this short story into a novel. I received positive and constructive feedback from Longtable writing group, and wrote and edited until I felt I had finally finished. I decided to self-publish – and to once more fundraise for Sightsavers.
How long did it take you to write ‘The Leenane Inspector’?
All told, it took five years – three to write and two more years to edit and restructure. However, it wasn’t a full-time job. I did other things during this time period, including starting a third book, ‘Tales of the Barrow’, which I’m about half-way along with now.
There is a great sense of location in ‘The Leenane Inspector’. How did this develop?
I like travelling – I’m just back from the Canadian Rockies – but I’ve also had the opportunity to live in a number of different places, including eight years in the Middle East. I spend a lot of time around Leenane and Westport, and the remarkable landscape in that area can’t fail to make an impression. Travel definitely broadens the mind and gives much material to write about. Many of my short stories are based on my experiences. At my age, I have many years of life to use in my writings, and I try to bring them into play.
‘The Leenane Inspector’ is on sale in Dubray Books (Dun Laoghaire and Blackrock); Eamonn’s Bookshop (Sandycove); Charlie Byrne Books (Galway); Books @ One (Louisburgh, Co. Mayo); Seamus Duffy Books (Westport, Co. Mayo), or contact [email protected]