Blog for the Dublin Book Festival Website in 2011

When you’re a writer born in the same city as Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien and Roddy Doyle, you’ve a lot to live up to. They cast long shadows. But if you’re writing for young kids, it’s not the great literary figures you’re being measured against. It’s Pixar, Mario and Harry Potter. Children’s entertainment has to be gripping, stimulating and immediate. The ‘quality’ of your work is utterly irrelevant, if it cannot engage the reader. They’ve got to be having fun. Even tougher still, children’s writers are expected to be as entertaining as their stories – not something I thought would be part of the deal when I started out. To promote our work, we are having to relearn the oral storytelling skills – the roots from which Irish literary skills have grown. For me, truly great writing starts with a profound love of storytelling, and an observation of the details of life. Like all good literature events, the Dublin Book Festival blends children’s storytelling with high literature, and writers with readers. It is the type of meeting of minds where the seeds for stories can be sown, and where the fruit can be plucked.

Oisín McGann, 17th of February, 2011.