Jean Grainger first began writing fiction at the suggestion of her clients who enjoyed her stories as she guided tours around the Emerald Isle.
Born in Cork, Jean tapped into her experiences as an Irish tour guide, a teacher, a university lecturer and a playwright to create compelling stories to become a bestselling author on Amazon.
Today I have a little treat for everyone who loves to read Irish books. Jean Grainger has written a guest post for Irish American Mom, recounting her days as a tour guide and her journey to becoming an author.
And there’s a little giveaway into the bargain. You can enter to win signed copies of four of Jean’s novels. But before I share the link for the giveaway let me first hand you over to Jean to share her writing journey….
Jean Grainger – Irish Tour Guide Extraordinaire:
In the absence of any better ideas, and in a desperate attempt to rebel against the sensible idea of getting a real job , I decided in the early nineties to train to become a tour guide of Ireland.
Not having the slightest iota of a clue what the job might entail, I set out to learn the name and story behind every nook and cranny, every pile of old rocks and every church in the land, with a view to showing it off to the many millions of visitors from the United States that land on Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shores each year.
It was one of the best decisions of my life. I met some incredible people. The vast majority of whom were fun, interested and easy-going, and were gentle with a novice in the early days. I had a wonderful time, and it gave me such an appreciation of the gorgeous bit of the world I was fortunate enough to be born in.
My father, himself a storyteller supreme, remarked how handy it was that I got paid for my hobby, talking. And boy, did I talk! On high roads and byroads, sometimes lost if I’m honest. I have absolutely zero sense of direction, a fairly fundamental skill for guiding one would have thought. I sang songs, recited poems and told stories of my country.
So many amazing things happened, and people really did confide the most extraordinary things. The safety of strangers I suppose. Long lost families reunited, marriages fixed and finished, loves lost and found, life-long friendships formed, all on buses crisscrossing the island.
One woman, who had been taken by her father to the States as an infant during the troubles, sat on the bed where she was born, ninety one years after her birth. On another tour the patrons of an Irish bar in Florida took the ashes of the bar-owner and scattered them on the Dingle peninsula, and as they did an enormous rainbow appeared. All human life was there.
On Becoming A Writer:
Over time, visitors suggested I write down the stories, and so, one winter, I did.
Convinced it was a masterpiece, I sent off The Tour with confidence to big publishing houses, day-dreaming if I’d take Penguin or Hachette, Simon and Schuster or Little Brown. Clearly they’d have to fight for me.
Er….not exactly. Crushed, I realized nobody wanted to hear my tales and so, discouraged, I dumped the telephone book sized manuscript in a drawer.
Back To Teaching:
I was obviously deluded to think I could be a writer. So, I used my education, and went back into teaching. At secondary school and university, I taught History and English.
My academic specialty was Irish women in World War II, so I wrote extensively on that subject, in dry academic terms with yards of footnotes, until one day, the rebel in me struck again.
I decided how much more interesting it would be if I took all the facts I knew, and told a story. My second book, So Much Owed, was born.
Discovering The World of Self Publishing:
By that stage I had discovered the wonderful world of self publishing, long described as vanity publishing. The accepted wisdom was it was where hopeless cases went to shame their friends and family into buying their rambling drivel that no publisher with a brain in her head would even consider looking at.
Not the case anymore I can assure you. Indie authors, as we’re now known, are making a very nice living thank you very much, and while the colossus of Amazon is a mystery and can be portrayed as the villain of the piece, I beg to differ.
Amazon has made my dream come true. I’m a writer and loads of people actually buy my books. I say that with a touch of incredulity in my voice, even now, four years later.
I am in the rewrites of my sixth book and while I’m not Stephen King or John Grisham, I’m doing ok. People like what I write, enough people do anyway, and while its hard work, I love it. It’s a vertical, as opposed to steep learning curve, and you have to be prepared to invest in yourself, emotionally, financially and in terms of time, but it is a hugely rewarding career.
People have compared my style to that of the late great Maeve Binchy, which I find humbling and flattering, since I read every word she ever wrote.
Author Bio – Jean Grainger
Jean Grainger is an Irish author from Cork. She writes both contemporary and historical Irish fiction but with an American element.
For many years she was a tour guide of her beloved Ireland, leading groups mostly from the US, and she now teaches part time in a boys secondary school which means she has a great sense of humor and no sense of smell.
She lives with her husband Diarmuid in a stone cottage with their two youngest children. The older two come home occasionally with laundry and to raid the fridge.
Jean is running a giveaway over on her website. She’ll be accepting entries for one more week.
If you’d like to enter to win four of her signed paperbacks, inscribed to whoever you wish, then just click on this link to enter the giveaway.
So rather than our usual system of leaving a comment here on my blog just pop over to Jean’s site to complete your entry. But hurry, the competition closes soon!
A big thank you to Jean for sharing her story with us today and for giving Irish American Mom’s readers a chance to win her books.
Wishing Jean years of happy writing inspired by the beauty of Ireland and its people.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
P.S. Just want to let you all know I have many more books and some giveaways to share with you during the coming week. I’ll be introducing a new book about the Irish at the Alamo, and a genealogy guide, amongst others. So stop by whenever you get a chance.
If you enjoyed this guest post, here are some other installments you might enjoy ….