Spotlight: Creative Stories from Around Ireland

SPOTLIGHT: Irish author Cethan Leahy on how to deal with writer’s block

Why would you write a novel about your own ghost haunting you? To make people think about the odd metaphysics of it, apparently.

We spoke to Cethan Leahy, author of young adult novel “Tuesdays are Just as Bad” and heard about what inspires him.

Who are you, and why do you exist?

I’m Cethan Leahy and I have a book “Tuesdays are Just as Bad” coming out. It’s a young adult novel about a depressed kid haunted by his own ghost. My purpose of existence therefore is to make readers think about the odd metaphysics of your own ghost existing while you are still alive.  

Cethan Leahy, author

You create many things – films, illustrations, books… tell me about that.

It’s true. I’ve made short films, comics, animation, radio programs and now a book. I like to think that it means I’m a renaissance man, rather than the Irish answer to James Franco. 

Serious topics are sometimes best approached sideways

What do the different mediums mean to you as a creator?

I like jumping between mediums, especially ones that are more collaborative. Writing by its nature is a solitary pursuit, so it’s always a bit of relief when you have people to bounce ideas off, but then at other times, you want to just disappear to a room and follow your ideas unheeded. Interestingly my tone seems to change between the mediums. It is much brighter for the more visual work than the written work. I’m not sure why, it just comes out that way.

What drives you to create?

I like telling stories, so much so the characters in my book tell stories.

A good conversation is a wonderful thing and I think art is a natural extension of it, something interesting to talk about.

"Well, well, well" - Illustration by Cethan Leahy

“Well, well, well” – Illustration by Cethan Leahy

Your story, “Tuesdays are just as Bad” touches on some very real topics, where did you get your inspiration from?

When I first came up with the idea of a person being haunted by a ghost version of themselves, I wrote some pretty goofy scenarios for it that ran out of steam pretty quickly. However, when I began to consider the reality of literally being stuck with yourself, it popped out as a perfect allegory for the difficulties you have as a teenager and the internal struggles. Serious topics are sometimes best approached sideways rather than straight on and I hope readers will find it an honest book.

What was your creative process in writing the book?

Once I was happy with the idea, I gave myself the challenge of writing at least 500 words to write everyday of Lent (NaNoWriMo but with Catholic guilt, I guess!). By the end, I had written around 25000, which is a short first draft but enough to build on. I like to plot beforehand. I learnt early in my writing life on that I need to have an ending to aim for before I start anything, otherwise I get lost in the woods.

Did you ever hit a wall?

Occasionally I would write a chapter where everything was on fire, pure unadulterated gold. Then I read back on it and realise that I broke one of the rules that I had invented for the reality of the ghost. I would then curse wildly, attempt to make it fit for half a day, consider rewriting the whole book to make it, and eventually delete and come up with something else.

Do you ever hit a wall?

Certainly.

What do you do then?

Since I usually have a fairly detailed outline, I skip ahead to a part that I know I’ll enjoy writing. The end result is either that it gives me the solution to the problem I had before or I realise I don’t need the earlier part at all. Writing is work, but it needn’t be gruelling, so treating yourself is good once in a while.

Do you have advice for other people wanting to create?

Deadlines are your best, albeit demanding, friend.

What do you do when you're cornered at a wine party, having small talk with a stranger?

Hope they are interested in bizarre stories from Cork’s past, because man, I have several.

Follow Cethan's adventures on Facebook.

Order “Tuesdays are Just as Bad” here 

 

Some of the words in this: Sasha Kinch


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