Emer unveils her debut novel
Creativity has been a constant in the life of Dundalk woman Emer Lawless. She was just in her teens when she began dabbling with words and her love of language has led her on many journeys.
Now she has fulfilled a long held dream of publishing a book, 'Our Diligent Souls', the result of four year's work.
'I've always worked as a writer to one degree or another,' she says.'I've always been writing and yers ago, when I was young kid, I used to spend the weekends writing dogs' names into columns for my Dad who was a professional gambler,' she recalls.
'That's what gave me a love of language.'
'My first play was staged in the Town Hall when I was 16 or 17 and the writing just went on from there.'
After a stint as writer in residence with a local theatre company, and the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, Emer then spent seven years travelling, starting out in New York, before exploring most of Europe before living in India for a year.
'A lot of that time was about trying to educate myself to be a writer,' she says. 'I wanted to go out and travel and see the world.'
Motherhood saw her settle down as she devoted herself to her son, whom she describes as 'an exceptionally gifted young man with ADHD and Asperger's'.
Having befriended a collective of first and second generation hippies, she went on to live in Dublin for six years, working in Gill's public house on the North Circular Road, where Brendan Behan held his wedding reception and associated with the likes of Kavanagh, Casey and Joyce.
She also worked as woman's officer for the James Larkin Centre, and writer in residence to Stoneybatter's Stoneleaf project, the first community arts gallery in Ireland, and then worked with special needs children through the Art Squad, in Clondalkin.
Returning to Dundalk she opened a mosaic art studio, teaching mosaic in schools, Woman's Aid and Traveller's Associations in Louth.
With all her endeavours based around creativity, Emer then decided to do a degree in Business Studies but found it hard to get work due to being older than most graduates.
'I was in my early forties which meant I was regarded as a bit long in the tooth and I found it really difficult to get any opportunities.'
Then, four years ago, she decided that she would do what she always wanted to do - to write a book.
The result is 'Our Diligent Souls', which she describes as 'a very Irish love story'.
It's an exploration of traditions of town and city life as the central character of Mark, a Dundalk native living in Dublin, navigates challenges in his work and personal life. The plot contains a tapestry of characters representing modern day Ireland while there are set pieces such as a three day Irish wake, the returning emigrants, a night out at the dog track and a trip to the St George's Market in Belfast which will resonate with Irish readers.
'Our Diligent Souls' is available from Amazon, featuring a cover designed by Spudgun.