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Friday, 4 May 2018


I am writing a memoir about my father's disappearance. In 1960, he left our Belfast home, his wife and seven young children and pretty much vanished. The next we heard of him was when we were told he had died at 57 in Chapman, London in 1982. Apart from many questions, we were left with the mystery of 22 'missing' years.

A couple of years ago, after a conversation with Damian Smyth, Head of Literature & Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, I received a grant to help cover expenses in researching and writing the story of my father's life.

Over time, it became clear to me that this wasn't just about my father. This was about my mother, the rest of my family and me. And so the story expanded.

In tandem with the memoir, I scribbled together a collection of thoughts and memories in loose poetic form, a collection published by Lapwing (Belfast) called Feathers Ruffled. In retrospect, I jumped the gun and published these pieces without proper editorial advice. But, published they are and I'm sorry if I have irritated some people who have supported me thus far.

The memoir is still in production and a select few have had sight of extracts. Some feedback has been good and helpful. A couple of contacts have yet to reply.

On the advice of a reliable contact, I got in touch with a professional editorial expert with a view to entering into a contract to get the manuscript in shape. The editor was kind enough, after extracts submitted, to respond with three pages of free advice, an extraordinary generous act that has driven me on to produce in a very short time thousands of words on my family's history.

I have reviewed and rewritten a substantial amount of material and feel the flow in is the right direction.

This is a writing project that requires time and not my impatience to get published. The manuscript will be finished and edited professionally. Then, it's a question of who believes in it enough to publish it as a book.

Finally, for those who have not heard it, I was a guest recently on BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live with the Reverend Richard Coles, Aasmah Mir and J P Devlin, invited to talk about this story. Here's the link:

Keep the faith.

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