Author Visit with Megan Wynne
1. My Long Road to Publication
2. The story behind The House on Hawthorn Road
I a story about the strange coincidence that lies behind the idea for The House on Hawthorn Road. It came about twelve years ago when I was teaching my very first creative writing student in various locations around Dublin. I wanted to send her a Christmas card and so asked for her address. When she told me she lived in no. 3 Hawthorn Road in Clonskeagh I nearly dropped the phone. She was living in the exact same house in Dublin that my father had grown up in. I had visited my grandparents there when I was a child. When I told her this, she and her mother immediately invited me there for afternoon tea.
3 Hawthorn Road is a beautiful red-brick house in Clonskeagh. When my father lived there, it had been dark and pokey inside but since my student’s family moved in they had built on an extension. While I sat there eating scones, in their light-filled extension at the back of the house, an idea came to me. What if, by building on this extension, the family had altered the structure of the house causing magical cracks in the walls to appear? And what if those cracks allowed my eleven-year-old creative writing student, Beth, to travel back to 1950’s when my father and siblings lived there?
The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I knew my Dad’s brother, Robin, would make an excellent character for a children’s novel. He was outrageously funny and used to get into lots of trouble in school. He was called the class dunce and nobody was able to handle him. Unkown to him and everyone else at the time, he had dyslexia. As a result he was completely miserable and frustrated. Beth (in the novel) is also having a hard time at her new school and the two form an unlikely friendship. They are able to help each other out and at the same time cause havoc for both families!
In the story I show how having dyslexia does not mean you’re stupid. In my experience children with dyslexia have wonderful imaginations and are very intelligent. I have been teaching creative writing to children for over twelve years and some of my best students have dyslexia.
3. Bullying and Anxiety in Children
Another topic I am keen to discuss is bullying and anxiety in children. I was bullied in school and as a result became anxious. I find a great cure is to write about the experience (as I did in The House on Hawthorn Road) and also to keep a journal. Another excellent way to keep my mind from worrying is to read and write stories. Many children who are drawn to writing and stories have large imaginations, which can cause them to worry. I love to help these children by encouraging them to keep their minds busy by creating stories. It works a treat!
4. Time Travel Stories
I read aloud from The House on Hawthorn Road and discuss time travelling with the group. My aim is to inspire them to write their own time travelling stories.
5. Questions and Answers
I always give time for lots of questions about writing and anything else the children wish to talk about.