Eileen O'Hely

Eileen O'Hely

Q&A with Author Eileen O'Hely

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’ve always loved stories: reading, watching TV and movies, and making up my own stories and plays, but I didn’t seriously contemplate being a writer until my mid-twenties when I was writing up my Physics PhD thesis and reading Harry Potter at the same time. I thought it would be more fun to write stories that people read for enjoyment rather than research papers that people read for work because they have to. Once I’d finished my scientific studies I set about becoming a writer.

What prompted you to write 'Aisling and Amelia'?

My pre-school daughter (who is now in high school, btw!) would always come home from her ballet class with only one ballet shoe. I was forever asking her ballet teacher to ask the other children in the class to check their bags for an extra shoe. The teacher said, and I quote; “Is this the topic for your next book? I think so!” The idea of a one-legged ballerina sprang from that.

I’ve been very pleased to see the attitude the Queensland dance teaching industry has to dance students as individuals. Many dance schools and eisteddfods include “all abilities” sections, which is lovely to see.  

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

I have oodles! I have a few picture books which have themes of caring for the environment, and I am also working on the text for some graphics novels with a scientific theme. 

What is your professional background?

I did a double degree at university in Science/Arts, then completed a PhD in Astrophysics. I spent some time overseas working on IT systems for various Olympic Games and a very brief stint at the All England Lawn Tennis Club as a web producer and journalist for the Wimbledon tennis championships one year. Now I do the fun bits of astronomy – looking at pretty pictures of space and sharing the hard-earned discoveries of research scientists with the public.

Any advice you’d like to give aspiring writers?

Do writing your way. 

Who/what inspires you?

J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. He has my ideal job. A good pun, or a good character name is also very inspirational.

What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books?

I like reading, obviously, and many different forms of story-telling: plays, musicals, film, TV, well-crafted song lyrics… I enjoy playing music and tackling new musical instruments. I’m interested in space, health, the environment and pop culture. I’ve always loved studying foreign languages (my Arts degree is in Japanese and Italian) and I’ve been lucky enough to spend many years living in non-English-speaking countries. 

My favourite books change depending on what mood and phase of life I’m in. I will never throw out Bringing Down the Moon or No Matter What which were favourite picture books when my kids were small. I like the first books of popular YA series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Recently I’ve enjoyed The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home and Before the Coffee Gets Cold.

How can readers contact you?

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