Thursday 5 November 2020

The Magic of Reading and Writing

 by Jordan McCarthy

a hot chocolate with marshmallows

I discovered the magic of storytelling at a very young age. At bedtime, my father would always read me a story, which would fill my mind with images of faraway lands and magical feats. Sometimes, I would ask him to tell me a story without the book. Perhaps that was an early sign of my hopes to create fiction myself one day! Mam would take me to the library or the newsagents after school and on weekends, where I'd browse the latest children's titles. A book, as it still is now, was a gift like no other. 

One of the first series that I can recall becoming really engrossed in, aside from that of J.K. Rowling's larger-than-life Harry Potter series, was The Saga of Darren Shan. I remember a school friend was reading the first title in the series, Cirque Du Freak, one afternoon in class. The book had a tarantula navigating a spider’s web on the cover. I learned that Cirque Du Freak was the tale of a boy, who had stumbled across a freak-show-type circus and who was blackmailed to join forces with a vampire. I was fascinated and I immediately set along on the twelve-book trek! I devoured that first book, along with The Vampire's Assistant, Tunnel Of Blood, Vampire Mountain, Trials Of Death, The Vampire Prince....all the way up to book number twelve. 

I can still vividly recall the characters from Darren Shan's series. There was Larten Crepsley, the vampire who transforms Shan into a half-vampire in return for saving his pal. Evra Von was the 'snake boy' in the freak show. I also found it fascinating that the vampires in the series weren't just typical vampires from other stories. No, these guys were alive and could be killed. They didn't have fangs, but they drank blood by opening a vein in someone's hand, and could then spit saliva on it to heal the wound. They climbed walls with their razor-sharp nails. They flitted, too, which is basically like an extraordinarily-fast run that took vampires from one place to another in a seriously-quick time. 

I loved the smell of a new book. As I flicked open each page, a fresh bookish smell filled my nostrils. I would lie on my bed and read, glasses on and fully immersed in a world of fantasy. I think that is when the creator inside of me grew curious. I wonder if I could write a story like this…

Sport has always been a passion. Even before reading novels and school textbooks, I would sit down on a Sunday morning and skim through the back pages of the News of the World. The 'Transfer Gossip' section was undoubtedly my favourite. I would relish reading about the latest European starlet Manchester United were scouting, or which  'Galactico'  was rumoured to be joining the Premier League that summer. 

I didn't really take on writing until early adulthood, but the desire to write, both fiction and non-fiction, had long been ignited. When I later discovered the majesty of the writing of authors such as Dan Brown, and the intrigue generated by a peer writing about sport for the college magazine, I felt determined to write.

Now, as a writer, I know that my work has been influenced by my reading, dating from the days of growing up. I've realised that without writing, we wouldn't have any great reading material. And without a demand for reading, we wouldn't have any need for great writing. Read. Write. Write. Read.  Come to think about it, Read & Write was the name of the shop where I purchased a lot of my books and magazines back in those days. Or more like where they were purchased for me! 

About the author

Jordan McCarthy is a writer, podcaster and producer from Cork, Ireland. He has written sports features for The Echo and The Irish Examiner.  Read his blog, 'Tipping Away', at or check out his podcast, 'Leeside Lives'

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