Six children discover on their twelfth birthday they have a special gift, they can communicate with the dead. Gravespeakers: Ruth, the second book in the series, tells the story of Ruth McCarthy, a police sergeant’s daughter from Ballybunion in Kerry. Ruth must find out who killed her brother Johnny in a hit-and-run accident in 30 days to keep her powers until her 18th birthday. Gravespeakers: Maria, the first book in the series, tells the story of Maria Lyons, an undertaker’s daughter from Kerry. Maria must make three wishes of the dead come true in 30 days to keep her powers until her 18th birthday.
How many books are in the series?
At least seven. The first six books tell the story of each of the children – three boys and three girls – and can be read in any order. Beyond that I’ll explore what happens when the children meet. I plan to bring out a new book every three months. The third book in the series is written and I have begun work on the fourth.
Who are the books aimed at?
7-11 year-old boys and girls. The books are short, typically around 20,000 words and many of the children have told me they read it at one sitting.
They’re too scary!
The inspiration for this series came from Darren Shan. I introduced Darren at Listowel Writers’ Week in 2013. Afterwards he talked and I listened. I realised there was a gap in the market for a younger age group, who loved to be spooked but not scared and have a short attention span – think Halloween and ghost stories. To make sure I got the balance right I read a chapter of the Gravespeakers’ series every night to my 7-year old son Samuel and my 10-year old son Zach and there hasn’t been a sleepless night between them.
Have you proven you have a following?
I have visited over 30 primary schools in Kerry and Cork to read from my books and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I have sold over 1200 books to the schoolchildren and the schools directly.
Why are you writing children’s books anyway?
After a long illness my mother-in-law passed away. A few months passed and my wife paid a visit to a famous medium in England. I am a sceptic. When she returned my wife told me I owed her half the money for the reading, because half the reading was about me! She handed me a tape. On it my ‘spirit guide’ foretells I will write children’s books for a living and they will be as successful as the Golden Compass. 100 days later I had finished my first children’s book. Here’s a YouTube interview I did answering the question in 90 seconds: