Who needs chocolates and flowers when you can spend an arbitrary date in February curled up with a beautiful book?! So for all you sleepy-heads who missed reading The Story Collector the first time around, you have one week to download it for just 99p!
‘Told with all the warmth and charm of a fairytale’
The Irish Times
‘This is the kind of book to lose yourself in’
Nudge Books Literary Magazine
But what’s it all about? Who is the story collector and why is this butterfly-adorned book breaking hearts? Well, I’ve always believed that word of mouth is the best way to spread the love for a book, so I’ve decided to use the words of my wonderful readers to make a story collector word cloud!
If you can find a few words in there that speak to you, then click on the portal below for your chance to escape into a world of wild beauty, dark creatures and true love.
If you have managed to miss the exciting news that The Story Collector was reviewed in The Irish Times last weekend, then well done to you because I have been telling everyone I know and many people I don’t! To celebrate, The Story Collector is available to download for 99p all weekend on Amazon and if you fancy bagging yourself a signed copy, check out my Twitter page for a chance to win.
THE STORY COLLECTOR is a darkly magical 99p on Amazon!
What’s that? You’d like to see the review? Well, I mean if you really think it’s necessary, I suppose I could see if I have a copy somewhere…
Honestly, this is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I remember years ago, my sister saying “oh you should be writing for the Irish Times”. She may as well have said, you should write your novels from space. It seemed so far-fetched. Even now it feels surreal. I keep wondering, how did this happen? I think a lot of writers tend to overlook the years of hard slog when something amazing suddenly happens, as if it has nothing to do with us. Also it feels a bit indulgent and most of us have been taught not to indulge in our own success. Irish people are renowned for being utterly crap at taking compliments and we are brought sharply back down to earth if we even show signs of having ‘notions’. But when your peers tell you that your achievements are ‘well deserved’, maybe it’s okay to take a moment and say, ‘I did it!’ So sod it, my book is in the Irish bleedin’ Times and I’m flippin’ delighted!!
It’s been almost a week since The Story Collector was released and I think I’ve finally dragged myself out of my post-launch stupor! How to even begin to explain to you, dear reader, what this week has been like. It has been a mixture of utter joy, trepidation, excitement, anxiousness, exhaustion and elation. Let’s say it together, it’s been an emotional roller-coaster! But mostly, there’s a sense of mission accomplished.
There are so many stages to getting a book from manuscript to shelf and even though I’ve had a publisher behind me this time, it still doesn’t change the amount of work to be done. Thankfully, all of the preparation has paid off and my new book has been chaperoned into the world by the most amazing book bloggers – newly christened #TeamEvie ! Book bloggers are quite simply, angels. I never cease to be amazed by the amount of work they put into helping authors and publishers promote their new books to the world. All for the love of books and reading. It’s kind of phenomenal and something I never take for granted. It’s a huge commitment that they take on for no financial gain, and yet their professionalism is exemplary. It also helps that readers (we knew this already!) are just the best humans!! I’ve had such fun on this tour, so big thanks to everyone who is taking part and cheering from the sidelines.
I was so happy to kick off the week with a piece for the Irish Times, all about folklore in fiction. I loved writing this article and I’ve connected with some fellow folklore fans (try saying that three times!) off the back of it, so do have a read if you’re interested in the inspiration behind the story.
Another feature I really enjoyed doing was My Life In Books for Woman’s Way Magazine. I love sharing books that I’ve enjoyed and it’s a nice change to chat about other writers!
Finally, the lovely people at with Female First UK invited me to do their feature, 10 Things I Want My Readers To Know About Me. Honestly, I couldn’t think of one at the beginning! But once I started writing, it kind of snowballed, reminding me of things I hadn’t thought about for years. Like how I worked as an intern with Airbus Industrie in the south of France, and in a bizarre twist of fate, they are publishing a book this year with my publisher, Urbane!
So that’s it, The Story Collector is out in the world, revealing its pages to new readers every day. There is still lots more to come, so stay tuned for details. If you want to pick up a copy, check out the following stores for more info.
I read somewhere that you don’t become a writer; you discover you are one, and I suppose that’s what happened to me.
People always talk about their love of books as a child, but I also had a love of stories and storytelling. So much so, that I often made up my own and told them – seanchaí style – to anyone who would listen! My goal was to entertain and storytelling became my party piece. But when it came to reading, well, books were my medicine.
I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital as a child and people would always bring me books, mostly fairytales. I would read voraciously when stuck in bed. The Grimm brothers helped me escape from the confines of a hospital ward, along with Johnathan Swift whose crazy stories of magical lands and strange wonders opened up a whole new world for me. Later, my older sister’s Edgar Allen Poe collection saw me through countless infections and fascinated me with his gothic tales. Yet, as soon as my health improved, I would abandon my books for the outside world, making up for lost time. I was a fair-weather friend to books, but they were still there waiting for me, whenever life got hard.
It wasn’t until much later that I even dared to think of writing a book. Again, it was one of those ‘stuck’ moments in life and I needed a new story to help me find a way out. I rediscovered the library, my love of books and an escape route. I’m not sure at what point I decided, ‘Hey, I could write one of these!’ but I certainly remember the moment when I realised it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I felt like a fool for even trying. I wasn’t a writer! It was a silly dream. And so I buried my first attempt deep in my hard drive and tried to forget about that part of myself. I kept reading though – if I couldn’t be a writer, I was going to be a reader.
It worked, for a while, but it was like I’d been bitten by a bug (a not very talented, but persistent bug!) and before I knew it, I was writing another novel. I submitted it to ONE publisher before I even finished it and they requested the full manuscript. I couldn’t believe it. “It’s happening!” I thought to myself, “It’s really happening!” Then came the rejection letter – which wasn’t surprising, seeing as I had submitted just 50k words of a first draft. The editor said that, while it was well written, the story wasn’t strong enough. Well, if that’s not an excuse to wallow in self-pity for a good two years, I don’t know what is! But I kept reading, exploring new genres and different voices.
So yet again, I had pushed aside this crazy dream and told myself I’d have more chance of winning the lottery.
I think it’s a rite of passage for writers, this tug of war between heart and mind. You try to talk yourself out of it; acutely aware of how irrational this longing is. Everyone tells you there’s no money it, you’ll never get published and besides, the novel is dead! But you keep climbing into your ivory tower anyway, because you simply have to tell your story. Even if no-one listens, you have to tell it because if you don’t, no-one else will.
So when do you really start feeling like a writer? I can’t say. It’s an unusual process; you spend all this time wondering when you will become a ‘real writer’, but just like the Velveteen Rabbit, the realness happens without you noticing it. You work away, writing stories, writing articles, submitting manuscripts, waiting endlessly and then one day you look around you and realise, I am a real writer! It’s happened. I think seeing my photo in the Irish Times with the caption Evie Gaughan, Author was what really clenched it! I mean, who am I to argue with the Irish Times!!
And then came the greatest endorsement that all writers hope for, dream of, but never really believe will happen. Yet just like love, it happens when you least expect it and have almost given up on it. In a happy twist of luck and happenstance, fellow writer Thomas Hocknell (The Life Assistance Agency) pointed me in the direction of Urbane Publications, and I found my perfect fit. I submitted my manuscript and on Saint Patrick’s Day, merry with wine, I received the email I’d been waiting for – “We’d like to publish your book”. It was really happening.
It IS really happening.
Even now, in the midst of my third book launch, I think there’s a part of me that still can’t accept that this is real, that it’s really happening. People ask me how I feel and I’m sure I reply with something coherent, but really it’s a jumble of feelings and impossible to put into words (ironically!). I’m just trying to do the work and give this book the best launch that I can. Another surreal moment has been the endorsement of one of my favourite authors, Niamh Boyce (Her Kind). Having her words on my cover, praising my story, is something (again) I could only have dreamed of. Another welcome surprise to me is how generous and supportive authors are of each other – something I hope to pay forward.
But it’s probably the same for most authors, a lot of the time you just can’t see the wood for the trees. There are lots of hidden moments; a contract to be signed but you can’t talk about it, a new cover that you can’t reveal yet, a new story you don’t want to jinx, so you keep it to yourself. And so you never really know when to celebrate and when things finally do start happening, you’re already in promotion mode. So maybe it will be another few months before all of this sinks in and I can give myself a congratulatory pat on the back. And a holiday! Or sit down in a quiet, still place and let myself feel this in my bones, remember what it was like when I started out and see how far I’ve come. Till then, thanks to everyone who has supported me, my squad, my tribe 🙂 It would be a far lonelier journey without you x
The Story Collector is available to purchase here –
Up until this week, my novel was a manuscript bound by little more than hope and a dream. But now, The Story Collector has been enveloped by a design that I have to say, I love! So without further ado, here it is…
I am not exaggerating when I say my publisher (Urbane Publications) was AMAZING during this process. Sooo open trying new ideas and making sure everyone was happy with the design. This was beyond what I had expected and I just knew when I saw this cover, it was the one. It was love at first sight!
But more importantly, it is the perfect introduction to the story. It has a dreamlike quality that sets the tone for what is to follow. In fact, that has been the overwhelming feedback I’ve received so far – that it draws you in, which is exactly what a cover should do. So, what am I drawing you in TO? Well you may ask! Set in Ireland and wrapped in folklore, this book is very dear to my heart… but don’t take my word for it, read the blurb.
A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.
Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.
But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..
Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.
The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.
So there you have it folks, after months (nigh, years!) of banging on about this book, I can finally say that publication is imminent! 14th June to be precise, but for the impatient ones of the bunch, here is a link to pre-order a paperback version right this very minute on Amazon.
I have been so lucky to meet some fantastic and supportive writers and readers since my last publication and I just want to say thanks for all the shares and for helping me to spread the word. I hope I’ve played my part in this process too, writing reviews, sharing links or just being a cheerleader when someone’s having a wobble. It takes a village to make a book, so I guess that makes you the village people 😀
Life is funny. I never thought I’d find myself down an old country lane, asking a tatooed mechanic, “Is this the right way for the portal to the Otherworld?” Only in Ireland, as they say. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
As anyone who has read my stories will know, I have a bit of a thing for magic, mystery and the unseen. Maybe it’s down to my over-active imagination, or it could be my love of folklore, but either way, Ireland is fertile ground for superstition. Of course it was the Irish who invented Halloween (need proof? here) or what we call Samhain. It is the time of year when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and beings from the Otherworld can cross over and scare the bejesus out of us.
But surely this is all myth and not really grounded in reality? Well, being cursed with a nose for curiosity, I found myself on a bit of a road trip recently, in search of the real portal to the Otherworld ~ Oweynagat. Oweyna-what I hear you ask? Well, this is the anglicised version of Uaimh na gCait, which translates as Cave Of The Cats and can be found in Rathcroghan, a Royal Site in County Roscommon, where the Kings and Queens of Connacht reigned and were buried. Rathcroghan (Crúachan Aí) is a unique complex of archaeological sites and is believed to have been the birthplace of Queen Medb, Connacht’s Warrior Queen (waaaay before Beyonce).
As with many things in the West of Ireland, directions are all relative. The signs are there, but good luck seeing them. Rathcroghan is said to be one of the most significant but least appreciated archaeological landscapes on the island of Ireland, so while you won’t find as many tourists here as compared to Tara and Newgrange, you mightn’t find the site either! A series of mounds are spread out across the townland of Tulsk and the fact that most of them are on private land which is currently being farmed, you could quite easily drive past. Thankfully, there is a lovely new visitor’s centre to keep you on the straight and narrow, but you will still have to run the gauntlet of some menacing sheep to get to the top of the mound.
But getting back to the cave and its historical connections with Samhain. Oweynagat is said to be the portal to the Otherworld and to prove its credentials, when Christianity came to Ireland, this cave was referred to as The Hellmouth of Ireland. Now that’s a reputation to be proud of! It is said that The Morrigan (an ancient goddess of war in Irish mythology) emerges from this cave on Halloween night on a chariot pulled by a one-legged chestnut horse, along with various creatures such as three-headed monsters and red birds that wither plants on sight. Luckily, I visited during the height of summer, so it didn’t get too scary.
Needless to say, my companion and I drove in circles for quite a while before ending up on a long and winding road to what can only be described as middle earth. Unsure as to how we should proceed (see my previous point about the lack of signs), I spotted a guy fixing cars in his shed and had the dubious honour of asking him whether this was the place where we could find the portal to the Otherworld. As you do.
‘Ah, the wee man is it?’ he replied in a Donegal accent.
‘Erm, I guess so,’ I responded.
All we had to do was open the gate into the adjoining field and there we would find (let this not be underestimated) A GATEWAY TO ANOTHER DIMENSION. It’s not everyday you do that, so I was glad I’d brought a flask of tea and some tuna wraps! Thanks to hundreds of years of under-investment in the west, many of our archaeological treasures have been left untouched, and to be honest, that’s part of the charm. This unassuming place has a magical atmosphere that you can sense immediately. The entrance to the cave is guarded over by a hawthorn tree, a sacred tree in Irish folklore, so I knew we were on the right track. The entrance has a stone lintel, inscribed in Ogham (the ancient Irish alphabet) with the text that translates as “Frach, son of Medb”, referring to the queen associated with the area. Resembling what the mountaineer Dermot Somers terms as a “crack in the floor of time”, the narrow entrance to Uaimh na gCait, or Cave of the Cats, consists of a man-made souterrain and a natural limestone cavern.
It’s a bit of a squeeze to get in and in the end I slid into it (rather gracefully) on my backside. I had such a sense of anticipation, bearing in mind that I was still wondering, ‘Is this the right place?’ and ‘Will I be cursed for trying to enter the Otherworld?’ There’s something so visceral about returning to the earth; a sensation that defies language and yet calls to our subconscious in a very primal way. The history of the place, the myth and lore surrounding it and the fact that there was no-one else there but us, made it feel very special indeed. Stupidly, I forgot to bring a torch and my companion revealed at the eleventh hour that they suffered from severe claustrophobia, (hardly a crack team!) so I didn’t get very far into the cave, but it didn’t matter. Just being there, in that ancient spot, imagining all of the comings and goings sent my creative juices into overdrive! All of the great believers have been here, even Dr. Douglas Hyde, our late president, carved his name in the stone. Bloody vandal.
So next time I’m going to bring a torch, a chisel and an even bigger flask to see me through to the other side. I would highly recommend a visit, if you’re in the West of Ireland. These places have been relatively untouched over the years, so if you’re looking for an authentic experience of Ireland’s ancient past, Rathcroghan is a gem.
And if you like all things otherworldly, keep an eye out for my new novel, The Story Collector, which will be published by Urbane Publications in June 2018. Pre-order here.