Clondalkin native overcomes dyslexia to release first book

By Mary Dennehy

Growing up with dyslexia and teaching himself how to read through the pages of the Dandy comic, Clondalkin native Jason Donoghue has released his debut book – with the prolific writer currently working on his next project, an epic fantasy series.

Writing for the past four years, Jason, who is 30 and now living in Lucan, has self-published his debut novella, which is a fantasy offering set in 11th century Ireland.

Jason Donoghue Ronan 26 January 2017

A fictional story with close links to Irish history, Rónán revolves around an eight-year-old boy and his horse, Ghost.
This week, Jason took some time out to speak with his local paper.

What did you read growing up?

I have dyslexia and growing up the teachers wouldn't work with me or help me to learn so reading was very difficult.

I had to teach myself the hard way. My mother would buy the Dandy comics each week and from reading them that is how I learned to read.

Do you fall into a certain genre?

No, I’m only beginning my writing career now. I began writing fantasy, I’m now working on fiction and in the future I plan on writing romance and another epic fantasy closely linked to Irish history.

Tell us a little about your debut novella, Rónán?

Well Rónán is based on a short period of my own life. While I was sickly in hospital I remember being very lonely and my big sister Sarah coming to help me.

Thinking of that one day, I come up with the idea for the book. So, the book is told from the point of view of six characters, with Rónán a sickly eight year old boy and his horse Ghost being the main characters.

It’s set in the eleventh century in Dublin before Strongbow came to Ireland, with the story also told from the point of view of a 15-year-old boy, a 20-year-old girl, a father, mother and a Lord.

We get a short period of their lives before Strongbow turns up with an army of Normans.

It is set in the year 1,170 Ireland and is closely linked to Irish history, did you have to carry out a lot of research?

No a basic understanding of history was enough, the story is more about the family than Irish History.

Do you have a process when developing characters? What’s important in a character for you?

While writing Rónán I found listening to music helped me a lot, mainly Ella Henderson, I don’t know why! I just needed free time and a relaxed mind to create. I look for characters I have never read about and I want something to catch me about the person like their appearance, their goals and motives.

Is Rónán the first book in your “epic fantasy series” coming out in the coming years?

No Rónán is a side project I decided to do. My fantasy will be out this year hopefully my book sales will help me create it. It will be called Forgotten Empire King and Queen and will have between five and seven books in the series maybe more.

You independently published your book, was there any challenges you encountered when trying to pull your book together?

Independently publishing is hard for many reasons one is the financial aspect, you will be charged around 25 cent per word to have your book formatted and edited. A short novella costs about €850 but my future books will cost in the thousands to create. Promoting it is so hard and it again can cost money. On Twitter alone, I have spent money trying to get the word out on the book, so you have to think hard about financing the book and finding the best ways to do it.

Any advice for other writers who want to get work out there?

The advice I would give to a new writer is to love what you do. I have spoken about money but I don't care if my books sell, I just love writing. Find a good Editor, Orla Kelly publishing helped me a tonne, you will need a professional to look over your book for mistakes – and, trust me, there will be loads you miss. Forget about everyone and everything, it’s you and this book and the characters in the book and you will create something special for you and that’s what matters.

What’s the best book that you’ve read in the last year, by another author?

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is one of the best books of all time. In the last year, The Picture of Dorian Grey was my best book for 2016.

Do you have a favourite film?

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Band of Brothers.

How can people get their hands on your book? Amazon Kindle Barnes & Noble and selected Libraries.

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