Wexford author draws on life's experinces in first novel

By David tucker

pe shane
pe shane
ABOVE: author Shane Dunphy; RIGHT: his new novel.

WEXFORD author Shane Dunphy has just been given the green light by his publisher 'Hachette' to talk about his new book After She Vanished which will be hitting the shelves in July.

It is his 10th book and his first novel.

'My previous writings have all been memoirs, stories about my experiences working in child protection.

'This new book is crime fiction, but it still deals with a lot of the same issues and is set in a world not all that different to that of the my other titles,' said Shane, who grew up in Wexford where he lives with his wife and two children.

Shane, by profession is a child protection worker who worked in various roles within the HSE for some 15 years.

In 2003, he made the move into teaching social science in college and now runs the social care department in Waterford College of Further Education.

'In 2007 I was doing my PhD, and my supervisor suggested that some of the case studies I was writing about cases I had been involved in might be worth publishing in their own right, so I sent three of them to Gill and MacMIllan, who pretty much offered me a book deal on the spot,' he said.

'Those 40 pages became Wednesday's Child, which went to number one on the Irish non-fiction bestseller list. Penguin bought the international rights, and the book went into the Top Ten on the London Times list, too. A series followed - I have, to date, written nine memoirs of my time doing child protection.

'They have all been very successful - The Girl Who Couldn't Smile, my sixth book, went to number 5 on the London Times List.

'My last book, The Boy They Tried to Hide, stayed in the Top 20 both here and in the UK for three months.'

Shane said an abbreviated recording of me reading of The Boy They Tried to Hide was broadcast on American Public Radio as part of the award-winning Snap Judgement storytelling series to much positive reaction, and he had just concluded negotiating a film option for the book with Los Angeles company Rumble Films (the people responsible for hugely successful movies like Drive (starring Ryan Gosling) and Nightcrawler (starring Jake Gyllenhaal).

'However, my plan was always to move to fiction, and my new publishers - I moved to Hachette Ireland three years ago - were really open to discussing doing something new.

'I have tinkered with writing fiction for a while, and had a story that had been floating around in my head since long before I wrote Wednesday's Child.

'It is based on something that really happened to a friend of mine, a childcare worker who had taken a kid from the where unit he was working Christmas shopping in Dublin - they stopped to listen to some carol-singers on Grafton Street, when he turned around, and the child was gone.

'He spent about 10 minutes in pure panic before an elderly woman appeared out the crowd with the wayward child in tow - she had wandered off to look in the window of a toy store. As you can imagine, my friend was hugely relieved.' Shane said this got him to thinking - what if that child had never been found?

'What would it have done to my friend? How would it have affected his life? And my new book, After She Vanished, sprang from there,' he said.

After She Vanished is the first in a series of books featuring David Dunnigan, a criminologist grieving the loss of his niece, Beth, who was abducted while in his care when she was four years old. In the years since she went missing Dunnigan's life has gradually fallen apart, and he is alienated from his colleagues, his family and is in serious danger of losing his job as a consultant with the gardai.

Shane said his crime novels will be credited to S.A. Dunphy, while the misery lit books will continue to be credited to Shane Dunphy. He said local people may know him from playing music in The Sky and the Ground, where he and his friend Kevin MacDermott have been fronting a trad/folk session there for about 20 years.

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