Q: What pushed you to start OIS?
A: My interest in going beyond creating family trees and locating old family records.
Q: What made you choose Patrick, Mary, and Michael for the story’s focus?
A: The focus is primarily on Michael because he is our first American born ancestor. But I took lessons Michael learned from his parents Patrick and Mary in Ireland and applied it to his life.
Q: How hard was it to gather the information?
A: Using ancestry data bases it was fairly easy. Family was very willing to share stories about our ancestors, photos and records.
Q: Can you detail how you started?
A: I started by writing a prose poem and that became Chapter 1 of the book.
Q: What all did research entail?
A: Gathering old family photos and records from family members, listening to stories from several generations in my family and using ancestry data bases like Ancestry.com to look for census records, birth/death/marriage records, ship records transporting immigrants to America, etc.
Q: How long did it take you to gather enough material to make OIS what it is today?
A: About one year
Q: Did you, at any time, feel like quitting, like it was too hard, too broad a scope, too overwhelming to continue?
A: I was motivated to keep going by setting stages for progress. First, I wrote a prose poem (Chapter 1), then I had it translated into Ireland’s mother tongue – Gaelic- then audio recorded it in English and Gaelic and then began writing the chapters in the book.
Q: What did your family think about you going on this adventure in writing?
A: I included them in the adventure of writing this story. They loved it.
Q: What’s the one thing you loved best about writing OIS?
A: Seeing how my life was shaped by the decisions of my ancestors.
Q: What’s the one thing you liked least about writing OIS?
A: I loved every minute of the process.
Q: What are your plans going forward now that you’ve finished OIS? Any other books on the horizon?
A: Get the book published, print copy and e-copy and offer lectures and workshops on how others can write their family story and pass it on through the generations.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself? Pets, family, work, whatever you want to tell us.
A: See “About the Author” in the book.
Q: I heard you had part of the book recorded by a Irish vocalist in both Gaelic and English with an Irish brogue. Is this available on your site for us to listen to?
Q: How long, from idea to finished product, did it take you to write OIS?
A: About 4 years (but that was with a full time job).
Q: What part of Patrick, Mary, and Michael’s story surprised you the most?
A: Their amazing ability to deal with adversity.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I wanted to write for many years but until now work demands hindered me.
Q: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
A: Weekends and nighttime. About 10 hours per week.
Q: What would you say is your one interesting writing “quirk?”
A: I try to combine real facts with magical realism.
Q: What was the most surprising thing that you learned in creating your books?
A: That I could do it.
Q: When creating OIS, what was the one thing that excited you the most?
A: Bringing my ancestors and their times to life.
Q: When creating OIS, what was the hardest thing to write?
A: The Great Hunger in Ireland—very painful to discuss.
Q: When creating OIS, what was the easiest thing to write?
A: How my modern family benefited from my ancestors’ decisions.
Q: When creating OIS, what fact hit you the hardest emotionally?
A: The deep love of my great great grandparents – Patrick and Mary.
Q: If you could go back and research and write OIS over again, would you do anything differently?
Q: What, if anything, did you have to give up in order to make time to write OIS?
A: I gained in wisdom and lost nothing.
Q: How did you balance work, family, and writing while creating OIS?
A: Limited work on OIS to weekends and late nights.
Q: What are some insights you would share with someone wanting to do something similar to what you did with OIS?
A: If you craft your family story and give voice to all the lessons to be learned from it you will create a wonderful legacy for your family.