By Richard Meagher, Naas Library
Megan Wynne’s journey to becoming a published author was not a straightforward one. Having spent 15 years submitting her novels to various publishers in search of a publishing deal, Megan became disheartened by the industry and had succumbed to the resignation that a publishing deal was beyond her reach.
That all changed in 2017 when Megan happened upon a Culture Night event that invited unpublished writers to perform a 15-minute pitch for their prospective novels to the O’Brien Press. To Megan’s disbelief, her pitch was well-received and chosen for further exploration. After 15 years (and 15 minutes) of trying, the wheels were finally set in motion for the publication of Megan’s debut novel, The House on Hawthorn Road.
The House on Hawthorn Road is a heart-warming tale of triumph over adversity suitable for young readers aged 9 years and upwards. It centres on the experiences of an introverted young girl named Beth who encounters major life-transitions when her Grandmother passes away and her family move from London to a new house in Dublin. The upheaval in Beth’s life is heightened when she becomes the victim of bullying at her new school. To add to her troubles, Beth is spooked by what appears to be ghost in her new home.
Beth soon learns that she is not in the presence of a ghost per se, but an entire family of cohabitants who have time-travelled their way from 1950’s Dublin to the present day through a crack in Beth’s bedroom wall. Now Beth and her 1950’s counterparts must navigate life together while time-travelling through the decades.
The House on Hawthorn Road boasts an amusing and off-the-wall plot that is packed with surprises. It truly is a worthwhile read, but not just for its quirkiness and eccentricity. This book is layered with themes that explore major life issues such as grief, peer pressure, anxiety, learning difficulties, loneliness, and bullying. These issues are dealt with in a heartfelt and positive way that really speaks to the reader, while the story also promotes the virtues of empathy, self-acceptance, and the ability to be genuine, yet respectful towards others.
The author’s skilful treatment of such sensitive issues is refreshing. Megan herself has spoken candidly about her experience of being bullied in school and the anxiety she experienced as a result. The acts of writing and journaling became a therapeutic means for Megan, and she never looked back. For the last 10 years she has run a school in Dublin where she teaches creative writing to children with the aims of nurturing their confidence and providing them with inspiration.
While Megan thrives in her role as a source of inspiration for her students, she has also been inspired by them. It was an interaction between Megan and her first creative writing student that sparked the idea for The House on Hawthorn Road. When Megan asked her student for an address to send her a Christmas card, she was shocked to learn that her student was living in the same house that was once occupied by Megan’s Grandparents. This bizarre coincidence got Megan thinking about the house and its history; about how it has housed two different families from two very different eras. She became fascinated by the idea of both families sharing the house while in two different time zones, and The House on Hawthorn Road was born.
Megan Wynne is a talented writer with an impressive ability to blend madcap plotlines with deeper themes, all serving to entertain the reader, soothe their worries, and develop their self-awareness. Megan may have waited a long time for her publishing deal but based on the promise shown in her debut novel I would be amazed if it takes another 15 years for her to land the next one.