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Kilmuckridge author Álanna Hammel reflects on her formative years in new book


Álanna Hammel at a reading of her latest work at Red Books in Wexford.

Álanna Hammel at a reading of her latest work at Red Books in Wexford.

'When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...'

'When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...'


Álanna Hammel at a reading of her latest work at Red Books in Wexford.


As Álanna Hammel marked her 21st birthday, she reflected on her life in Wexford to date with the launch of her new book ‘When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...’ at Red Books Wexford on Saturday night.

Launched just months after the release of Kilmuckridge writer’s first book ‘Cruel and Vicious’, Álanna’s latest book delves into some of her formative experiences, from a childhood injury to leaving her home of Wexford to attend college in Dublin. While the book came together quickly, the stories have been many years in the making as they were written at different stages in Álanna’s life.

“I’ve been writing these memoir stories for years. Some of these were written when I was 15 or 16. I always thought, if I were to compile them, I don’t know what I would call it,” explained Álanna. “The idea for the name came from a conversation with someone. A friend and colleague of mine found out about my writing life and said ‘when I grow up, I want to be you’. I thought it was such a funny thing to say to someone, especially considering she is 40 years older than me.”

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‘When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...’ is a series of short stories written in chronological order, explained Álanna.

“The majority of stories are about growing up in Morriscastle and Wexford. I went to primary and secondary school in Kilmuckridge so I never really left Kilmuckridge until I was 18 or 19 to go to university,” she explained. “The first story is ‘Ring Finger’ and it’s about me losing my finger when I was three-years-old. It’s about my relationship with my mother, who I am really close to, the fact she is this powerhouse and how that influenced how she reacted to me losing my finger. It looks at how that affected her as a mother and how she witnessed me in pain.”

“The last few are about moving to Dublin and the culture shock I got on doing so. The very last story is about the fact that in university here, you can’t bring coffee into the library and how people will go to the ends of the earth to get away with bringing it in. Most of the stories are a bit of craic.”

Álanna’s latest venture is strikingly different from her first offering, which focused solely on poetry. For Álanna, this latest body of work came more naturally to her.

“I have always written stories and poetry didn’t come to me as naturally. It took me a while to get used to it and even then, the poems I write aren’t typical poetry. Writing the short stories and putting them together is a lot more personal.”

Last Saturday, Álanna’s book was launched at Red Books in Wexford town. The day was significant for the author as, not only did it mark the release of her second book, it also coincided with her 21st birthday.

“I feel it is a nice way to commemorate my life so far,” she said. “The 21st birthday isn’t really a big thing anymore. People don’t have big celebrations like they used to. I couldn’t come up with anything to do but I thought a book launch would be a bit of craic!”

At the launch, stories from Álanna’s book were read by her friends Conor Lyons, Eri Farrell and Jimmy Rivetts, and cousins Eoin O’Byrne and Danielle Cooney O’Neill. It will be available to purchase at Red Books, at irishbookshop.com and on Álanna’s website.