M.O. Walsh has been writing since the 8th grade, when he discovered literature through Edgar Allan Poe. It’s all he’s ever wanted to do. Since finally leaving college at 27, he has been teaching creative writing; first in his native Baton Rouge, and now at the University of New Orleans.
His stories have been widely published, and a collection came out back in 2010.
“Since then I’ve tried a couple of novels, but after 150 pages realised they just weren’t working.”
The debut was different.
“I wrote the first chapter, then it just flowed. I never stopped, and never got tired of it. It took seven years to complete.”
Who is M.O. Walsh
Date of birth: 1976, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Education: Secondary School in Baton Rouge., degree in English. Masters in Literature; Masters in Literature in Tennessee, then back to the University of Mississippi for an MFA in Creative writing.
Home: New Orleans.
Family: Wife Sarah, kids Magnolia 6 and Sherwood 2 1/2.
The Day Job: Director of the MFA Programme at the University of New Orleans
Interests: Cooking. Fishing. Hanging out with the kids.
Favourite Writers: Main influences have been Lewis Nordin and Barry Hannah.
“And everyone has their James Joyce moment. He opens up the possibilities of the language.”
Second Novel: “It’s at the ideas stage. There are still things I’m trying to puzzle out. I’m making notes, doing bits of research, and a lot of thinking.”
Top Writing Tip: “Be your honest self as a writer. Do that, and you might make an impression.”
Web: www.mowalsh.com Twitter: @m_o_walsh
The Debut: My Sunshine Away. Penguin: €19.50. Kindle: €12.03.
Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lindy, 15, has it all; good looks, brains; athletic prowess, and great friends. Then one night, on her way to back from running practise, she’s raped. Her 14 year old neighbour, the narrator, loves Lindy, and watches, bemused, as she changes, and embraces trouble. But what does he know about that fateful evening and why does he feel so guilty?
“The plot is based on a teenage memory. A girl was attacked in our neighbourhood. It stayed with me.”
The Verdict: A superb, atmospheric debut looking at love in all its forms. Dark, yet redemptive.
Published in The Irish Examiner, 18th July, 2015.
© Sue Leonard. 2015.