Claire Hennessy is a writer and creative writing teacher based in Dublin, Ireland.
She was born in 1986 and has had nine novels for teenagers published since 2000. (She wrote her first book Dear Diary…, when still in primary school, and kept writing throughout school and college. It seemed like a good way to put off doing her homework.) Her books feature much angst and kissing.
She is currently working on her next novel, and also writes short stories. In 2012 she received bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland and South Dublin County Council, which felt quite fancy.
Claire regularly does author visits and writing workshops for schools, libraries, and festivals, as well as teaching evening classes for adults. She is a director of the Big Smoke Writing Factory creative writing school in Dublin.
In her own words:
- I’m never quite sure how to answer questions about why I write, or how I got started. I don’t really remember the first time I put pen to paper and started that wonderful-but-frustrating process of trying to get what’s on the page to match up with the vision in your head. But I’ve always loved daydreaming, and books, and stories, and these things seem essential if you do want to write.
- The other type of question that sends chills down my spine is, ‘what do you do, apart from writing?’ You know the way some people have really exciting hobbies/passions/skills? And you’re amazed at what rounded and fascinating human beings they are? Yeah. Most of my time is devoted to bookish things – to writing, to reading, to teaching creative writing. Not to mention going into bookshops and gazing adoringly at all the pretty books even though there are a couple of hundred in my ‘to-read’ pile and I really can’t justify buying… oh, well, maybe just this one.
- In college I opted for a degree that would let me read a lot: History and English Literature. (There was a brief diversion into psychology because I thought I wanted to be Deanna Troi, but that’s a whole other story.)
- I also have a master’s degree in Popular Literature. My thesis was on The Babysitters Club series (putting a childhood obsession to good use). It had footnotes and all that jazz, but I still feel like I’ve gotten away with something.
- The Irish Times once said this about me: “….she comes across as Hermione Granger with a playful streak.” This is either deeply cringeworthy or kind of cool; I haven’t decided yet.
- I’ve been teaching creative writing workshops for years now, and I really enjoy it. I don’t think you necessarily ‘need’ to take a class in order to learn how to write but I know they can be incredibly useful – I took some courses in my early teens and I still love going to talks by writers and reading books on the writing craft. With writing, you’re always learning.
- In 2009 I co-founded the Big Smoke Writing Factory, which provides creative writing workshops and classes in Dublin city centre. I still teach workshops here as well as wearing an administrative and management hat (but not a literal hat).
- I hate getting my picture taken. That’s me on a trip to New York, hiding behind a giant tea. But on a happier and sparklier note, I am very fond of tea. Especially giant-sized teas. I also like: history, feminism, wine (Good wine. I have this theory that you only really become a grown-up when you have a spice rack in your kitchen, but actually appreciating wine rather than gulping down the cheapest bottle they had in Tesco comes a close second), musicals (favourites: Wicked, Les Miserables, and almost any musical episode of a TV show), stand-up comedy (appreciating rather than doing), yoga, TV shows on DVD (boxsets are a thing of beauty and wonder), and coloured tights. Oh, and books. I know I mentioned them earlier but just in case you’d forgotten…
- My favourite things about being a published writer are: 1) seeing my words in a proper, real, with-a-cover-and-everything! book, 2) having my opinions on bookish things being taken seriously (well, sometimes), 3) hearing from readers who liked one of the books, or could relate to one of the characters, or who thought it felt real, or who just couldn’t put it down. When you read a lot you know exactly what this experience is like, and to have someone experience that with your own work is just about the coolest thing ever.
Email: clairehennessy at gmail dot com (please read the FAQ page first)
Reading list: over at goodreads
Favourites: books; things in books; quotes