First, about On the Edge of the Loch: This book had been gestating for a long time. When the story idea came to me I knew I wasn’t ready to sit down and write it, even though I was writing routinely for a variety of academic and corporate projects.
One reason was that it required research – significantly, psychological character studies, which is within my field, but also prison research and contemporaneous news event dating (the story happens in the 1990s; I had to know accurately what was going on then in the world).
Plus – and this might sound strange to non-writers – I had to get to know about fifteen of the book’s characters better than I knew my best friends. I mean that without exaggeration; a writer’s relationship with important characters is that intimate (or should be).
Was it a labour of love? Yes, it was; otherwise, writers would do the sensible thing – quit.
As I have said many times, all artists suffer the torture of creativity. No short cuts, no pain killers. Hemingway talked about ‘opening a vein’, the need to bleed for art.
Nothing changes, even when everything changes.
Second, about the author: I’ve always been a writer; maybe it comes in the blood, I’m not sure. But I was certain from a very early age that a ‘typical’ life was not for me. I wanted to travel, seek out the world, find adventure, learn to fly on the way down. And I have no problem admitting that writing came second to ‘living’ – yet was never far away.
After college I went ‘on the road’ in America, rambling, working wherever I stopped, still writing everything down. I travelled with carnivals and hitch-hiked to wonderful places I’d read about as a kid growing up in Ireland. I also had a love of photography (still do); I photographed a continent then, ‘from sea to shining sea’.
After a number of years of this I diverted, continued my academic study in psychology and human learning (combined with a new interest in media/film production), and simultaneously entered the world of business and teaching.
Yet the explorer in me never went away, over the next decade taking me into a strange mix of research and practical work: from mining pits to mountain tops to skid row to corporate boardrooms (literally in each case) and other theatres of endeavour. Usually with a camera and microphone in hand, or sometimes a pencil and notepad, often just to listen, absorb, record and understand. Now and then advising, and always learning.
When I achieved a professional standard in a particular specialty I moved to a new challenge, frequently a totally new field. This is not for everyone, I do understand that; for me it has meant living who I am.
I’ve always loved teaching, a constant in my career, and have served on faculties in Ireland and the US and taught in a half-dozen countries. Currently, my work involves leading workshops in the area of organisational psychology, personal achievement and resilience, which I thoroughly enjoy.
. . . And writing, of course.
Joseph Éamon Cummins, an award-winning writer, taught creative writing and psychology for ten years. His specialty is in teaching and coaching personal achievement skills, while also advising some of the world’s largest companies on learning and performance. His new novel On the Edge of the Loch: A Psychological Novel set in Ireland has just been published.
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On the Edge of the Loch: “Alternately solemn and resplendent, as cinematic as the sweep of the land itself.” James Rutherford, Author of Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump