Interview with poet and photographer Margaret O’Driscoll – who took the photographs for my upcoming book, ‘ A Posy of Wild Flowers,’ due in 2020. (My sister Angela Corkery Bickley is also doing the illustrations.)

  1. Can you tell me a little bit of yourself?

I’m a social care worker, mother of seven… the eldest is forty and the youngest is twenty five… I’m grandmother to thirteen!

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

I love hiking, watching documentaries, dancing, and spending precious time with my grandchildren.

3. When did you first start writing and what was your first book?

I wrote some poetry as a teen but didn’t feel inspired again until I was in my fifties!

4. How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’ve always loved poetry… natural, unbridled lines!

5. Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from life… nature… family… anything can be an inspiration!

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I haven’t written in two years… since I moved out of my family home… I don’t fret about it, instead I embrace what comes my way.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I usually am inspired by a trigger…a word, an event, a situation…whatever.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Poets who were passionate, spiritual, natural… eg. Hopkins, Frost, Angelou, Kavanagh,     Thoreau, Wordsworth, Hardy, Whitman, Shevchenko, Pearse, etc.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Due to my busy lifestyle I didn’t have much free time to get my manuscript together but my family were very supportive. I planned the sequence of poems for my collection to be in line with the passing year. I chose a painting of mine as the cover and did my own proofreading. Lettertec, my printers, were very helpful and I’ve recommended them to other writers who wanted to self-publish also.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?

No, I wanted my pieces to speak for themselves.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I was happy to recoup the cost of printing and to be honest, any profit was a bonus for me. Due to my family caring role I was disadvantaged in that I couldn’t attend many readings but hearing people tell me how much they enjoyed my book was the real reward! 

12. Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Most of my pieces were based on real life experiences… both joyful and sad.

13. How did you the come up with the titles for your books?

My book title, ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’, I took from the title of one of my poems in the collection and I felt it was apt because the pieces in the book are about the enjoyment of things that are wonderful and free.

14. What is your role in the writing community?

I especially enjoyed being invited to read at schools, sharing my poetry and hopefully   inspiring others.

15. What do your plans for future projects include?

Since I published my book my poems have been translated into many languages and I’ve been invited to submit to many publications worldwide but now I’m taking a break and who knows what will happen next! 

16. What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc?

I feel it’s vital to contribute to our great literary tradition and to also be a voice for the voiceless.

17. Have you any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I feel aspiring writers should stay true to themselves and not be swayed by anyone.

18. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I’d like to thank each and everyone who encouraged and supported me, my family and friends, my fellow poets and writers, my Facebook friends, reviewers, publishers, translators, and event organizers… it’s meant the world to me!

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