THEY say that there’s a book in all of us. The trouble is, how to get it out?
A mother of two daughters, Róisín, 12, and Síofra, five, Emma Davis always knew she wanted to write, knowing she had a book in her, but raising a family and having bills to pay delayed the process.
“I had to put my writing ambitions on hold,” says Emma, who lives in Ráth near Reidh na nDoiri.
And she was thrilled when she held the first copy of her book in her hands, Three Mucky Pups, launched in Macroom.
“Like a lot of busy full-time mums, raising a family, running a home and paying the bills, my writing plans took a back seat,” says Emma.
“Writing is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and it was one of those things I promised myself that I would do. I should have done it a long time ago, but life goes off in different directions.”
Emma found the space and the inspiration to follow her childhood dream.
“A few lines every day turned into Three Mucky Pups.”
The family’s walks with their dogs were often muddy, but always fun.
“We used to go for walks up the mountain with our then three or four year old girl who had a lot of energy,” says Emma.
“We took the doggies with us in all kinds of weather. There’s a lot of sensory experience in the book.”
Walking the hills of the Múdcraí Gaeltacht with her husband, Mark, and their daughters, along with the family dogs, the rugged scenic beauty inspired Emma to re-visit her first love.
“I’ve been writing short stories and poems since I was a small girl,” says Emma, 41, who lived in east Cork when she was younger.
“I went to National School in Carragaline and did 6th class in Kilcreden National School. In St Mary’s, Midleton, I loved English class and when I left school I studied English literature.”
Emma, finding inspiration for Three Mucky Pups in the beautiful surroundings where she lives, also found inspiration for her writing working with the homeless.
“I was inspired by some of the heart-breaking and in some cases, by the heart-warming stories of people who are homeless,” says Emma.
“Even some of their mannerisms and some of their habits stuck with me and provided material for the book.
“When I worked caring for people in nursing homes, there were lots of human interest stories to explore and lots of people with valuable life-experiences to listen to.”
When Emma’s friends were celebrating happy events or saddened by unhappy events, she wrote them a poem.
“I would write meaningful poems for my friends who were getting married or who had lost a loved one. It was a nice child-like keepsake for the people close to me.”
Now Emma’s friends have keepsakes from a published author!
“Yes! It is wonderful,” says Emma.
What is Three Mucky Pups about?
“It is set in the winter-time,” says Emma.
“Often, walking the mountains, getting wet and cold, we ran out of steam. Going home, cuddling up to dad, was always a lovely finish to our walks.”
The landscape in Emma’s neck of the woods is very rugged.
“Yes. The landscape around us is very raw,” says Emma.
“It is wild and it is beautiful. I wanted to capture that.”
Illustrator Spark Deeley, born in Birmingham and living in Cork, captures and portrays that wildness and beauty of the hills of the Múscraí Gaeltacht. She nailed the two mucky pups too, Sammy and Súiche.
“Spark was a pleasure to work with,” says Emma.
“She took photographs and made them real. She made the dogs real.
“Three Mucky Pups features Róisin as a four year old, now she is 12,” says Emma.
The book was in Emma for a long time.
“It was originally prose,” she says.
“Then, when the recession happened and work took priority, the book was put on the back burner.”
It nearly didn’t resurface.
“When I went to look for it to try and get back to it only recently,; I couldn’t find it,” says Emma.
“I re-wrote the whole thing in rhyme!” she says, laughing.
“I was able to connect the dots, and with the illustrations, Three Mucky Pups came together.”
When she launched it she couldn’t believe her eyes: “I kept opening up the book and thinking, did I actually do this? I had to pinch myself. It was the most amazing feeling.”
She had the best book critics.
“The girls liked it,” says Emma.
“I knew if they connected, it was right. I’d know by them if it was no good. They were my proof readers!”
Síofra is now up for a starring role.
“Three Mucky Pups was all written and illustrated before she came along,” says Emma.
“I’m working on my next rhyming book and Síofra is the star!”
Three Mucky Pups, suitable for age three and upwards, is available in independent bookshops throughout Cork for €12, or €10 online at fairyfortpublications.com