A GAOTH Dobhair man has published his first novel, a rags to riches story about an American teenager who falls in love with Irish dancing.
The Dancer is a new novel by Sean de Gallaí, a Dublin-based national school teacher, who has published the book himself.
The son of Nellie and Gerry Galway, Sean studied at Marino Institute of Education but after taking a scriptwriting course in 2007 started a journey into creative writing and wrote an episode for the TG4 drama Seacht.
After getting onto the prestigious Faber and Faber Write a Novel Course in Dublin in 2011, he decided to work week on, week off teaching, so he could dedicate time to writing, often in his Stramartin family home.
The Dancer is a story about 15-year-old Kentucky girl, Alex, who finally realises how messed up her family life is. Whilst taking a prolonged vacation at her aunt’s home in Cleveland she forges the unlikeliest bond with her eight-year-old cousin, Kate.
She begins to fall in love with Irish dancing and allows her passion and enthusiasm and the escapism to carry her to a higher level of understanding.
Sean said the idea for the novel came from a mixture of places. “A close friend helped inspire much of it, as did a song and a place. I thought I found a gap in the market too and with a little bit of creativity moulded it all into a story.
“Some was loosely based on personal experience that I was able to exaggerate and add to and make more dramatic. Bits were influenced by some of my favourite movies and TV shows and other bits just came to me out of the blue.
“The Dancer would appeal to almost anyone who has an interest in a rags to riches story, or anyone who loves an underdog. It’s very much a sports drama. People who have no knowledge or interest in boxing enjoy Rocky. People with no interest in Formula 1 enjoyed Rush; for wrestling you have Foxcatcher. Moneyball was a hit and that was about baseball. People with no interest in ballet loved Billy Elliot. My story is very much like Billy Elliot with Irish Dancing as the backdrop,” he said.
It was 18 months before Sean finally got The Dancer published – himself. “Certain things out of my control slowed me down. I was lucky to have a close friend who is a dancer called Ashlene McFadden. She helped me edit the story and was especially helpful with anything Irish dance-related that I was unfamiliar with.”
“I first tried to find an agent. A lady prominent in the Irish writing scene was keen on helping me find a publisher. I wasn’t sure if I should go with that or not.
“I sent enquiries to several agents and publishers. Many of the responses were the same – they liked the writing, but didn’t want to take it on.
“I got the impression they believed that the Irish Dancing niche was too narrow for making sales. I entered my book into the Irish Novel fair in 2015 and that February it was longlisted – top 20 out of hundreds of books. After that I felt confident enough to self-publish. Publishing houses don’t always get it right,” he laughed.
Sean said it was difficult going the self-publishing route, because he had to learn as he went along.
“Expenses for editors and proof reads and cover designs etc were costly on me with only a part-time wage. The final month before publishing was quite stressful. It was relief more than anything that I felt when it was finally all done,” he said.
“The pros of self-publishing are that you are your own boss. I have a friend who has found a publisher. She wrote her book ages ago and it doesn’t come out until 2017! There’s none of that with Self Publishing.
“The cons are not having the mass marketing machine that comes with a publishing house. A self published author has to try and get his name and book out there in other ways, which can be tough. Word of mouth is one of the most important tools in driving sales so that is the challenge.”
The Dancer is available from Amazon. See www.seandegallai.com
Posted: 8:00 am January 30, 2016