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Alan J Healey - Author

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Alan James Healy was born and raised in Dublin. He is married and has a one year old daughter Mabel.

By the age of three, AJ, had taken a drug overdose (accidental**), crashed the family car through the garage (probably accidental) and later had been suspended twice from school (no accident!). ** The pills in question were orange flavour baby aspirin - the whole bottle was consumed heartily by the 18 month old, this was one of Alan's first memories!

When AJ was five, his father left the family home and emigrated, leaving his mother (Marguerite) to bring up AJ and his younger brother alone, until she remarried six years later, subsequently introducing another baby boy to the family!

He enjoyed his school years and one of his most vivid memories is perhaps dressing up in Muckross (girls' school) uniforms with two friends on the 2nd last day of school. They went up to Muckross, caused quite a stir and when they returned to their own school, walking across the playing pitches in front of all the classes, they caused an even greater commotion!!

In his twenties he spent 8 years outside of Ireland, this encompassed time in London, South Africa, Australia and the US.

He has two brothers but no one else in the family ever had any writing tendencies!

He's not quite sure who he admires most outside of writing. In the past he has been tempted to say Nelson Mandela but he feels that would be too easy an answer. He feels that people who do hours of selfless work without any recognition are the ones that impress him the most. He is bowled over by the kindness and care of nurses and he does have special admiration for mothers the world over, especially his own mother and what she did for him, makes him very humble.

His Writing Ambitions

He loved writing essays when he was at school and after he left, his English teacher who used to write occasional articles for newspapers, asked for copies of Alan's essays and reproduced bits of them in his articles. After he traveled the world for a year (1990-1991), he wrote a short article on the experience for a magazine.

From an early age he had always wanted to be a writer but when he was leaving school in the 80's, jobs and money were hard to come by in Ireland, he felt it would be an indulgence for him to go straight into writing. He also thought he should gain some life experiences and skills before thinking of making a living from writing. He wrote his first novel when he was 26 (in his own words 'It's not very good and it remains in a cupboard somewhere!) but he put it aside and continued working at various other activities. He continued in this way for another six years, until the September 11th attacks in New York, which put a stop to a few things he was working on and made him take stock of his life. He then threw himself into writing; he wrote a few stage plays and completed the first draft of TOMMY STORM by the middle of May 2002.

He wrote the first draft of Tommy Storm back in 2002 aged 33. Like most budding authors, he was repeatedly turned down by agents and publishers alike and had endured several rejections, so he decided to self publish the title. Alan did most things on the release himself, from the typeset to sorting out the printers (he got the best deal in China!). He was also helped out by friends and family who really believed in his book. There was an initial print run of five thousand copies, of which three thousand were sold. It was a chance meeting with an editor in 2007, who forwarded on a copy of Alan's book to a colleague, that got the ball rolling again - the rest, as they say, is history!

Writing Influences

In terms of other writers, he was most influenced when he was young. He loved C.S. Lewis's Narnia books and Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being a favourite). He also read lots of Enid Blyton, Sherlock Holmes and Biggles. In his teenage years he was forced to read Dickens and Shakespeare at school; however their writing seeped into his consciousness and continues to influence him (which is perhaps why there is a character called Lady Muckbeff in TOMMY STORM!). As a young adult he fell for THE PROPHET by KHALIL GIBRAN and then his life became so busy that he tended only to read on holidays. The list of books he wants to read is much longer than the list he has actually read!

He had no formal writing tuition. The only time he formally discussed character, form and structure was when he sent a few plays into the Abbey Theatre some years ago and they asked him to join two other writers for a four-evening workshop they were running to develop writers. He found it quite useful, although he had already written TOMMY STORM by then.

Personal Experiences that have Informed his Writing

He thinks that everything we do, everywhere we go, influences us in some way. His 'big' experiences would probably be becoming the 'man' of the house at the age of five when his father left; various sporting moments as a child; first love; traveling the world; having the promise of near certain riches dangled before him and walking away; and the influences of friends and family, his wife and having a baby.

He likes characters that are misunderstood or lost and trying to find their way; who are lonely and trying to find another someone; people who don't take no for an answer, who don't accept the first easy answer.

He loves the sea and epic locations - high mountains, icy lakes, wild forests, shadowed valleys. He also has a fondness for big modern cities, i.e. Manhattan, Sydney, London) and of course Ireland!!

Alan Healy gave up a successful career with Goldman Sachs to dedicate more time to the important things in life: family and writing. His life-long passion for writing culminated with his first novel - Tommy Storm!

What Inspires Him

He is inspired by many things; beautiful music, great rhetoric, certain sporting moments, tales of great selflessness and courage and since the birth of his daughter, he wants to help make the world a better place, in whatever small way he can.

Career Prior to Writing

. He worked in London for Goldman Sachs for two years in Investment Banking
. He went to South Africa just after Nelson Mandela came to power and together with a friend, set up a brick factory in a township, with a view to setting up others around the country (this was in his 'idealistic phase' and in his own words he 'failed miserably' at this endeavour!)
. He worked in venture capital firm in Dublin for a year
. He ran his own business, advising  start-up companies and larger companies on strategy, raising finance etc
. He put together a negotiation training course and gave the course to corporate clients