Aidan McNally Interview Published on: 23, Apr 2019

Which is your favorite memory from your childhood? How long did you stay in Loughshinny, Dublin, Ireland?

I grew up in loughshinny and was here til I was seventeen years of age. As far as fond memories go, there are tons of them. The best feeling I can recall was the sheer freedom as a child. It is a little village with one road that leads down to a harbour and that is it. We wandered the fields and the beach and the "back rocks" as they are known and we were just free as children.

What was your family's reaction when you decided to drop out from school around 12 years of age?

My family were not impressed to say the least. I battled with my father and mother and eventually my father drew up some papers that were basically a contract for living at home and within the contract were the stipulations of how I must pay for my food and my shelter. He said "the hot water in the shower is not free", my dad had reluctantly said to me "if you think you want to be a man, then here is a man's lot. You must work and you must hand mo ey to your mother every week for you bed and board". I would imagine he thought I would go running back to school. I didn't.

How did your mistakes along the way have helped you to learn and learn hard the knocks of life?

Making mistakes is something we all are doing all of the time. We just do not realize the mistake until something comes along to highlight it. So we continue in life a little complacent at times. I have always had some form of a stubborn streak and a little bit of determination in me, just like with my dad when I gave up on school. Working was difficult and living seemed expensive but I would not give in to allow my defeat be shown or noticed. So I entered the battle of wits with my dad then and as life has gone on. The battle has continued and I have been able to draw on past experiences to never give in and keep going to carry me through some very deep dark places.

I have had many times to reflect and even more opportunities to quit. I have never believed in quitting and never given up. And so I am writing this answer right now with the same enthusiasm as that young boy who left school and decided "I will work".

In your personal loss of two children, how did you keep up with your mental and emotional strength? What motivated you to never give up?

I almost answered that one above. Like I said a deep routed form of stubbornness. As a wayward teenager I always thought the one thing I needed to break inside of myself was how stubborn I was. I felt back then that it was a hindrance and a trait that was causing me arguments and troubles because I simply wanted to air my point always. I wanted to make people listen to me whether I was right or wrong. I was as hard headed as any might ever imagine. This was a trait in me from as early as 5 or 6 years of age. One friend often said to me how I have a "head like a coconut" hard that is. Through the test of time it is that exact trait of mine that has not allowed me to wallow on all the emotional hurt that losing one's children brings. It is almost like when I was or felt stripped of everything, I had to begin again with my few basic characteristics. Me being determined kicked in and has carried me very far in my dealing with such tragic loss.

What I once thought was a bad piece of my character or what I saw as an awkward part of myself has shown me how it has never been a weakness nor a hindrance. This is what has carried me through the hard, hard times and so it is a vital strength of my character.

How did you come up with the idea for "17 & Life: Corner or Crossroads?"

17 & Life, is a look back to when I was a teenager and an honest account of where I found myself at only 17 years of age. The questions I had to ask myself about how have I arrived in prison at only 17. What have I done being a recurring question inside of myself. I wanted to raise the same questions for perhaps adults who have never been or cannot imagine what a real big decision in life is. For teenagers alike also. Why is it that 15 years of age around the globe and rites of passage are celebrated. Big birthday parties for sweet sixteen, then all of a sudden it seems when we turn eighteen we are legally allowed to make decisions about alcohol consumption, driving, voting, sex even. What happened to seventeen. I remember being seventeen and had already taken on all my own decision making and they were disastrous. Did I know then as a teenager that life was so precious and important? Obviously not, but on my reflection to that time I realised that many people have maybe never even come to such a crossroads. So I have that question to readers. Are these decision times in life oh so crucial or is it just like deciding to turn right or left at a crossroads and keep on going with mimal effect on the rest of our lives? That is or was a lot for a 17 year old boy (me) to have to try and figure out.

What is or was the most challenging issue for you as a new author?

Challenging issues hmmmm, good question. I suppose understanding the readership that exists in our modern technological world. I write my memoirs not to tell anyone how to think or how to feel, I write to provoke some thought in people. I look around and see so many influences that I wish most can influence themselves and if I can help them to stir up those thoughts and emotions then maybe they can begin to think for themselves and through my stories they can begin enriching their lives. Even if only by a tiny little bit. So the challenge is definitely to me, do I lay it out clear enough to insight a little nudge to the perception of my readers?

What was the best thing about growing up in the 80's? What do you miss the most?

As I mentioned earlier that in Loughshinny, Dublin, Ireland we had tremendous freedom. We came home from school and changed from ourachool uniform and we went right back out to play. We hung out with friends mostly and just laughed and roamed free. We were not in fear of anything. I guess the safety of the world back then.

Writing biographies and memoirs can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. How do you get out of that mood?

I have had all emotion drained out of me on more than one occasion. Writing these true stories has an effect yes but it has definitely been a great way for me to balance my own emotional wellbeing. There are times as a grieving father that I can be emotionally stressed or stretched may be a better word for it. Writing can help me go to a place that will bring my emotions back in check and helps a lot as having had my own emotional well being stretched quite far. It is good to exercise the emotional health often.

What is the toughest criticism you've ever received as an author and how did you take it? What about the best compliment you've ever received?

Toughest criticism, when someone casually said to me. You just made that all up. You didn't write it, you just told someone a story and they wrote it.

For all the blood sweat and tears that have gone into my writing, I was just a little upset. I laughed at them and said "you have absolutely no idea do you?"

Best compliment. I have received some great remarks from people, the nicest being that someone found my writing inspirational. This is a beautiful virtuous circle I have found myself in. I receive such words that make it all worth while. My inspiring someone through writing definitely inspires me to write some more. Even in a little post on my blog or Facebook. When someone messages me and says "I needed to read this today, thank you" I am over the moon and spurred on to continue even more.

What are the challenges you face when writing stories from your life?

In all seriousness, writing my own life helps me acknowledge and accept that these things have indeed happened. Putting them on paper helps me see it for something other than just a memory or an experience.

How do you think a piece of your blog or a poem in "My Grief, the last 3 years" would have helped your readers to give them comfort in their own grief?

Grief is such a wide and varied subject for all who find themselves with such feelings. I wanted to show how even after some major devastating loss on my own life I found a way to take on a project and begin writing. The look back is like taking a freeze frame shot of my life and I wanted to hopefully encourage people that there are ways when grieving. It is a compilation of some of my thoughts and stamped and dated of when they happened for me. It is not all about grief or loss. It is the project to show there are ways to begin to fill our lives with something, even if only small writings every other day or so, that these things are possible. Others who do not understand your pain when grieving will not understand why you act or how you act. There is no story to convince anybody or ourselves, just feelings and a whole mixing bowl of thoughts. Writing them out has helped me bring them into line a little. Some of the compilation may have gaps in there between the dates as maybe I just wasn't feeling too good or too strong to bother writing. This is my honest way to encourage others to keep going, write some things down as it can help. If others can see what I have done then hopefully they can believe in themselves too and for some it may be gardening or painting or whatever the project. Small things like these can go a massive long way in helping ourselves heal while in our hurt.

Why did you name your Instagram account, 2sons2many? How do you think social media helps in the promotion of your books?

My Facebook page & my twitter page both carry the handle @TWOsonsTOOmany just like the title of my first memoir. When I came to Instagram the name was not available but I wanted to keep everything the same, like in branding. I will appear all over the place if someone types in two sons too many to Google for example. So the only version left available for Instagram was use the number digits instead of written out.

Social media has been a great tool in spreading the word of my books. But it has a great feature that I feel many over look. There is a huge benefit to meeting real people people, people who not only encourage you to do more stuff about your writing but who selflessly help you promote and even introduce you to some of their own people and an all round good use of being sociable. I have been amazed how many authors are so supportive. Because of you think about it we are all in competition for the same readers around the globe in one form or another and other authors have shown me gret support. I in turn like to do the same.

What do you love about the art of public speaking? What are your best memories of speaking?

Hahahaha, "The art" I take from delivering a talk that element again of hearing someone or seeing in their eyes how they change their own opinions or views within seconds. I get great value of having any inspirational impact.

Great memories are seeing people when their eyes glaze over as if to shed a tear. This is because I am only talking. I can see them feel what I am saying and this is a beautiful piece of our life. The ability to feel.

What are you currently working on? Do you have any plans to release a collection of your poems?

I am currently writing a new book, when it will all come together I am not sure. I hope toward the year end. I am also dabbing with some ideas for a play (this however is a totally new arena for me)

My poems will one day come together with some photography perhaps. My goal is to express the simplicity and try to remind us all of if we break things down to simple basics we can see there are no questions that can be left unanswered

How has your experience of being associated with AllAuthor been?

Me and AllAuthor go back a few years now and to date I will admit, very supportive and a great branch of bringing further exposure to my books. When self publishing the maximum reach is important and I must not forget that there is a business side to this writing and indie author malarkey so exposure is a massive welcome bosst that AllAuthor absolutely works hard at keeping up to date and finger on the pulse to know what is good and trending.

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