Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Luke, I live in county Kerry, Ireland although I’ve moved around a lot during my lifetime. I’ve done many jobs – my first job after university was as a car-park attendant, which was mind-bogglingly boring. I’ve been an artist, professional musician, journalist, sub-editor, graphic designer and more recently a horticulturist. I have also had a longstanding interest in spirituality and that is a subject I’ve written about extensively. ‘The Journey’ is perhaps my favourite book, but I am quite excited about my new ecology book ‘How To Save The Planet’ which will be out soon.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
There aren’t really any specific stories but much of what I write about is inspired by personal experience. I first discovered Buddhism when I was 15 thanks to a very eccentric uncle. I was Catholic at the time and my interest in other paths was not approved of, however the seed was sown – I went to India in search of answers, I explored psychedelic substances and I read voraciously and looked for a teacher. Eventually I concluded that you really have to be your own teacher, although I’ve learned a lot from the kindness and insights of others.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
That’s hard to say, creativity kinda descends on me from an unknown source. I might see or hear something interesting and some time later an idea will pop into my head that demands to be expressed. I have no real control over it, I just go with it when I feel inspired. From a Druidic point of view this is described as Awen or Imbas – it is the creative spirit or energy that comes from a divine source and manifests through humans when we connect with deity our higher selves or whatever you might want to call it.
How do you deal with creative block?
Fortunately I don’t usually suffer from this. However, I did suffer from a total creative shutdown for 2 years as a result of poor physical and mental health brought on by chronic insomnia. Yoga and other spiritual and physical practices helped me get better and then the creativity just came back by itself.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
These days you cannot rely on publishers to edit your book properly in many cases. I’ve discovered that it’s best to go through your MS with a fine tooth-comb and get two or three competent friends or colleagues to read it first, before submitting the final draft. Things do slip through unfortunately but nowadays many publishers cut corners on proof reading and editing in order to reduce costs.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I’ve been really lucky in that there has been no negative feedback from either readers or reviewers. However, I have been rejected by countless publishers, which is always hard to deal with. If you know that your work is good you really just have to press on regardless and not let negativity put you off from writing and promoting your work.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
First and foremost I write for my own pleasure and to express what I want to say about life, society and what is important to me. I do though hope to say something worthwhile and of benefit and interest to other people and provoke people to look at the world in different ways. If I thought what I had to say was boring or irrelevant then I would not bother to do it but I try not to be arrogant or egotistical about my writing. I realize that I am not that important and my opinion is no more valuable than anyone else’s. It’s for that reason that I don’t generally do blogging or lots of social media posts – I’m not so interesting that anyone would want to read my daily thoughts!
What role do emotions play in creativity?
For me emotions come into play particularly with poetry – I can’t write to order, poetry comes as an emotional response to something, pretty much at random moments. This can be annoying when it happens in the middle of the night or somewhere where you don’t have a pen and paper handy. Generally my prose is less emotional, far more pragmatic, although emotions definitely play their part in that too.
What are your plans for future books?
Right now ‘Kerry Folk Tales’ is just out so I am promoting that. I’ve a new book completed called ‘How To Save The Planet’ which is pretty self explanatory – it’s a short book and done on recycled paper. The plan is to give half the profits from this to Greenpeace. They are a wonderful organization and I think they have done so much to make the world a better place, I urge everyone to support them! I’ve also nearly completed a follow up to ‘The Druid’s Primer’, which is somewhat different but still very much connected with Druidry – I’ll not say much about that until it’s in the bag, but I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I have almost been killed many times – as an infant in Scotland I ended up in hospital after a severe allergic reaction but recovered miraculously. In England a friend shot me in the back with a rifle when I was a kid, I also fell in quicksand and barely escaped. I got severe dysentery in India but I was fortunately near the only hospital for 100 miles which saved me from certain death. I fell down a well near Dublin narrowly missing an iron spike, I’ve had several serious bicycle crashes in England. I fell off a roof in Wexford (Ireland). Someone nailed my hand to a door just missing a vein and I was in a car crash, both in USA. I accidentally slit my wrist working in a deli in England and was rushed to hospital. In London I got a bad electric shock and on two other occasions almost got crushed by a bus and a JCB. I also fell asleep on the motorway but somehow woke up just before I went off the road. In France I split my head open on a low road sign and almost knocked myself out. I’m so accident prone that actually when I think about it, it’s amazing that I’m still here!