A love for books like the Famous Five, BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox set Cork author Liz Lyons on a road that has seen her write two hugely successful novels. From Kilcorney in North Cork but exiled to Ardcath on the Meath/Dublin border, Liz always had an interest in reading and books, she didn’t discriminate and would read “anything I could get my hands on”. Naturally it was at English that she excelled at the Community School in Millstreet.
“I initially thought that I might end up teaching,” she recalled. “But I soon found out that I didn’t have the temperament for teaching, I just don’t have the patience.” When Liz graduated from TCD it was into book selling she went and found herself staying at it for ten years. “It was ideal for me. I was near books all the time, I was like a kid in a sweet shop and everyday I was getting more treats.
“The bookshop was located on Grafton Street and it was the perfect location. It is such a bustling street, it was across from Bewley’s and a lot of our customers were people coming in before work or during lunch. We did have quite a client base and you get to know the customers and their likes and interests. I loved that interaction and sourcing the books and I has ten great years there.”
Being around all those books and the beauty of writing, Liz longed to try and set her creative juices flowing and enrolled in the creative writing course at the Gaiety School. “Once I did the course, I knew I wanted to write,” she stated. However, it just doesn’t happen like that and to begin writing a book, a lot of hardship and toil must be gone through. “I had to work hard at it, starting is the worst because you have the idea and it’s just getting those first few words on paper. My first book took 18 months to write because I had no deadline to keep and had no book deal but it shouldn’t normally take that long.”
Although Liz loves to read books from all genres, contemporary fiction is her favourite and the style she wrote her books in. Liz’s first book is called ‘Barefoot over Stones’, which tells the story of two country girls (from Cork and Tipperary) living in Dublin in 1990s. They share a flat and are the best of friends, that is until a young medical student enters their lives with some huge consequences.
“Once you have an idea in your head, then you must get a place and setting. I don’t think you can be too strict with the direction the book takes, you must just let it flow and be flexible. When the story takes off, you must be just go with it,” said Liz.
After the hard part was finished by writing the book came the even harder part of trying to get it published. The first thing Liz had to do was to get an agent but she was soon to find out that getting recognised is a tough grind. “We made contact with numerous publishing houses and the response was always the same, no. I didn’t lose belief that the book would get published but it didn’t look good.
“Then I got a lucky break, the editorial director at Transworld in the UK, actually saw a transcript of the book and liked it. I then met her and she offered me a two book deal for Ireland, I was so chuffed!”
Liz then wrote a second book called ‘Come this way home’, about three sisters returning to their old family home in Cork. The family are in crisis and the book details the different relationships and secrets involved.
Liz is currently in the midst of writing her third book called ‘Notes from Hope Road’. “I work from home but because I have two girls (aged 7 and 5) in school and a boy (aged 2) at home, most of my work is done in the evening and weekends. My two books did really well for a first time author and hopefully when the third one is finished it will be published too.”
Although it can be tough, Liz wouldn’t change her profession for the world.
from the Cork Independent
Her books are available on amazon amongst other places