Sheila O’Flanagan never had kids because she couldn’t ‘throw herself’ into it

Sheila O’Flanagan never had kids because she couldn’t ‘throw herself’ into it


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Author Sheila O’Flanagan has opened up about deciding not to have children.

The Dubliner, whose 30th book was published this summer, said she never felt like she was the type of person who could “throw herself” into having kids.

“I have a lot in my head,” she told RSVP.

“I was always writing in my head, even when I wasn’t writing. My head would go off into these places and I just didn’t feel that that was compatible with having children.”

Read more: Author Cathy Kelly has found love again after splitting from husband John Sheehan

Sheila said she doesn’t appreciate the pressure on women to have children, and the judgment when a woman decides it’s not the right choice for them.

“Women are told from a young age ‘When you have children’ and then if you don’t there’s something wrong with you.

“I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think it’s a choice that you make. I don’t think it’s more selfish to have children, or not to have children. I think it’s just a choice. Women just need to be able to stand over their choices.”

Sheila worked in banking before she became a published author, but writing was always the dream.

“I’d written a lot of short stories and I’d written a lot of starts, first chapters and bits and pieces,” she explained.

“What I did then was, I wrote a short novel that would probably be a young adult novel now. The characters were all in their late teens, early 20s. I submitted that to a publisher and they said ‘It’s too young for us,’ – I don’t think that would happen now.

“But they said ‘That characters are great, if you could write a novel with the same characters but a bit older, we’d be interested.’ That rewrite became my first novel.”

Claudia Carroll and Sheila O’Flanagan

She quit after her fourth novel.

“For the first three novels, I didn’t have an advance for them or anything. You really couldn’t quit. Then for the next one I got a small advance.

“I just said OK, if they are paying me to do something, I have to give it my full attention.

It was always a dream to write a book, I didn’t think I would write as many as I ended up writing!

“I feel very satisfied that I did what I wanted to do and I was lucky enough to make a career out of it.”

What Eden Did Next by Sheila O'Flanagan
What Eden Did Next by Sheila O’Flanagan

Her best writing advice is just to sit down and do it.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect the first go. I think a lot of people, myself included, you’re trying to make it perfect. But actually just get something down and then worry about tidying it up afterwards.

“You always become a better writer when you make mistakes or when you go into the editing process and you have to look at your work really critically.”

What Eden Did Next by Sheila O’Flanagan is out now

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Sheila O'Flanagan never had kids because she couldn't 'throw herself' into it

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