Literacy Learnings Léargais Litríochta
Author name: Helena Close
Book: The Gone Book
1. What was your earliest memory of reading/being read to?
I was six years old and my mother gave me a copy of Pollyanna. I became addicted to books
2. When did you first begin to write for an audience?
I had a brilliant teacher, Ann Marrinan, in fifth class and she ran a weekly short story competition,
unheard of back then. I finally found something that I loved and was good at. My dad hurled for
Limerick so sport was a big deal in our house. The sports gene skipped me but I had found
3. What book inspired you most as a young writer? why?
Wuthering Heights. I loved the raw bleakness of it. I loved that it was almost an anti-love story. I
loved the passion and madness of it.
4. What is the best thing about writing for a contemporary audience?
Nina Simone says ‘an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.’ I love capturing that snapshot in time in
present day Ireland and doing it in a real and relatable way. I love the use of the vernacular,
dialogue that represents how we actually speak, stories that represent the marginalised, the
alienated, those left behind.
5. What is the most challenging thing about writing for a contemporary audience?
Getting things right. Doing justice to the story.
6. What inspired you to write The Gone Book?
I heard a story about a mother who walked away from her children. It was an unusual premise and
I wanted to explore the consequences of this through a teenage boy’s eyes. My son used to
skateboard in Limerick and the boarders were such an interesting and varied group of people so
that fit perfectly for the protagonist, Matt. It also provided a great background cityscape.
7. What have you learned from the process of writing this book?
Writing is hard! Editors are invaluable. Good writing is rewriting. A good story will always find a
8. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Find your voice. Ignore writerly writing – fancy words and images. Aim for simplicity and clarity
over the fancy stuff. Write with your heart. Edit and rewrite with your head.