Sunday 17 December 2017

'I was nerdy - I'd have got on with Hermione Granger'

Classroom Confidential with Sheila O'Flanagan

Author Sheila O'Flanagan
Author Sheila O'Flanagan

John Costello

Best-selling author Sheila O'Flanagan recalls her school days and tells us how John Steinbeck broke her heart, how she nearly brained a nun, and why she wished she went to school with Harry Potter's Hermione Granger.

So, where were you educated?

I went to St Paul's in Greenhills.

Where in the class hierarchy did you fit in?

I was the nerdy one. My social skills were lacking and I was quite conscious of it. I wasn't a gossipy type of person and I wasn't in any of the cliques.

And were they the best of times or the worst of times?

I have reasonably fond memories. I enjoyed things up to sixth year and then I got a bit fed up studying.

What was your favourite subject?

I always loved English. Even before I started school my mother would read to me. It was by far my best subject.

What types of books were you hooked on as a teenager?

I went through all the Enid Blyton stuff, but as a teenager I began to read a lot of my dad's books – things like PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. I also did the classics and while they never made me go 'wow!', they did make me think about reading and writing in a different way.

And what author or book made the biggest impact on you at school?

John Steinbeck broke my heart. His book The Red Pony ripped my insides out. It was one of those times when you realise that bad things happen to good people.

Okay, what was the naughtiest thing you did?

Our school was three storeys and I remember I had a row with this girl, over what I don't know, but I took her bag and threw it down the stairs and nearly brained one of the nuns! So they banned me from the library for a week.

Finally, if you could pick a fictional character to have gone to school with who would it be and why?

Hermione Granger. I'd get on well with the class swot.

Sheila O'Flanagan's new book If You Were Me is available in all good bookstores. Visit

Irish Independent

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