This week Selfpublishbooks.ie sat down with Diarmuid Hudner, author of Imhappynow.com, a story of three young people who come together to overcome being bullied through the website of the same name, a site free to access here. I asked Diarmuid if he has always been writing:
“I have been writing since I was very young. I used to write poetry for a local newspaper from around the age of 15. I wanted to study English at University but at that time in Ireland it was very difficult to find any job and I ended up studying business and going abroad afterwards. I have always regretted it because it took me nearly 15 years to get back to doing what I always knew I should be doing. But I kept my hand in by writing articles for financial magazines like Investment Week and Money Marketing.”
Imhappynow.com is a huge success, as signified by Diarmuid’s upcoming radio interviews and global audience. I asked him to give a brief introduction to the book. How long was it in the works? How did it begin?
“This book is a very different move for me,” Diarmuid says, “I had just finished another book called When Leaves are Falling, which was a historical fiction novel and was already half way through a World War I book when the idea for this one came into my head. I couldn’t seem to get rid of it so I stopped what I was at and started ImHappyNow.com. I had it sitting on the shelf for a year before I decided I better start doing something about it.
“I must have been born old because I love all the historical fiction classics like Jane Austen’s books,” he says, “I find them very romantic and chivalrous. I’d live back in that time if I could!! Probably though the book that made me decide to be a writer was F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It was able to capture the whole era of the “roaring twenties” and I loved some of the lines he had: ‘When he kissed this girl he knew his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.’ Nobody writes like that anymore.”
It seems Diarmuid has always loved writing: “For some reason it always put me at ease,” he says, “I’m a bit of a loner too so it suits my disposition!! I tend to actually write poetry for “kicks” but would never consider myself a poet. I started actually by writing a screenplay as I never thought I’d have the patience to write a novel but once I started it came naturally enough. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back I think. Sometimes you have to just jump and hope you remembered to bring a parachute!”
I asked Diamuid what he enjoyed writing the most in Imhappynow.com and why: “I enjoyed the self reflection that was needed in order to write this type of book which was difficult in its own way. I had to question myself alot about how I was living my life and the level of happiness I had or hoped to have. It deals with some very raw issues such as bullying, alcoholism, suicide and self harming so it was traumatic in its own way. It’s actually a very simple message that you and only you are in charge of your own happiness.
“Meeting people with very different kinds of problems from self harmers to those who had attempted suicide was also a great learning curve for me and the realisation that fundamentally we all think the same and are searching for the same thing. Probably the biggest plus of the whole experience was to actually make the fiction book a reality by developing a website called Imhappynow.com to offer hope to anyone who is finding things a little difficult by seeing that they are not alone.”
Diarmuid explained that he had to carefully search the market before choosing self-publishing:
“I was Chairman of the Doneraile Literary & Arts Festival and I was running some workshops and began talking to more and more people who had gone down the self-publishing route. I have learned from my days in business that the market always decides and self-publishing has arisen from the traditional publishing world becoming a very closed sector. I looked at the statistics and weighed everything up before I decided to go down this route. It was daunting as I had two offers from publishers to publish my book but decided to self publish anyway as I felt I was more in control. Twenty percent of the top ten bestsellers last year were self published so it has established itself in its own right.
“It was daunting at first but I took very much a business approach to it. I researched the companies who were in the industry, got quotes and examples of their work etc. It is important to keep in mind that they are not editors or marketers of your book. That is up to you so you really have to work out whether you want to make your book commercial or not. If so then you have to figure out the process of achieving that. I think you get what you put into it but if the desire is there then help seems to appear.”
I asked Diarmuid how he found the finished product from Selfpublishbooks.ie – was it as he had imagined?
“I was hugely impressed by Selfpublishbooks.ie and the lady, Sharon, that I was dealing with there. She was very efficient, helpful, informative and professional. She must also be very patient as I can be a bit of a pain to deal with I’d say!! The graphic designer, Shelley O’Reilly, was excellent too in taking the concept of my book and making it a reality. Overall I would highly recommend Selfpublishing.ie and will be back to them with my second book.”
What’s next for Diarmuid? “Well I’m developing the website imhappynow.com which goes in tandem with this book at the moment so that’s keeping me busy. I have another book finished, When Leaves are Falling, which is more of a Jane Austen-type book and more natural to my writing style I think. I half to begin the painful job of editing that which is a “cobweb growing over face” experience but it has to be done. I have to finish the World War I book and then I might do a follow up to this one so no holidays again for me this year!”