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Grace Tierney Interview

Grace And Book In Garden Portrait E1612908462530

The Indie Book Butler Interview.

Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.

Grace Tierney: My Wordfoolery blog ( ) about unusual English words has been entertaining readers since 2009 – exploring everything from “pooka” to “friggatriskaidekaphobia”. Inspired by the blog I’ve published two books about word history – “Words The Sea Gave Us” (English nautical words, phrases, and sailors’ yarns) and “How To Get Your Name In The Dictionary” (soldiers, inventors, stars, and villains who gave their names to English) and am currently editing the next one – “Words The Vikings Gave Us”. I also broadcast a monthly slot about the history of words on my local radio station here on the east coast of Ireland.

I’m a columnist for my local paper and regularly publish articles and short fiction. I’m a mentor for National Novel Writing Month each November, a Reading Ambassador for Ireland Reads (, and when I’m not writing you’ll find me reading, crafting, or hiking up a hill.

IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?

GT: Gongoozle me gollywobbler and bring scuttlebutt to the baggywinkle you galoot of a slush-funding idler! Stories behind nautical words.

IBB: Where do you like to write?

GT: Tucked up under a warm duvet. Cold toes do not inspire creativity.

IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?

GT: I would have said my laptop, but I’m sharing it with my teens (schools are currently operating online in Ireland) so I’m writing on paper too. It’s good to be flexible, right?

IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?How To

GT: “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien influenced me most as it was the first book I really loved and the first to make me cry. I struggled to learn to read as a child but Tolkien’s brilliantly written adventure tale opened the door for me when I was nine and I haven’t looked back. His passion for the history of languages probably seeped into my brain along the way too.

IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?

GT: Reading of course, and taking part in National Novel Writing Month every year since 2007. I finally met other writers in real life, learned how much writing I could produce if I wrote daily (my record in one month is 74,000 words), explored different genres, and drafted so many novels and nonfiction books.

IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?

GT: I want to entertain my readers. Books have given me so much in my life, I want to give back.

IBB: Have you received a favorite review of your work?

GT: Yes, Rick Ellrod said “Who knew this many of our familiar expressions had nautical origins? Ms. Tierney navigates us through a whole archipelago of word histories, in categories including pirates, surfer slang, and sea monsters. She writes with aplomb, extensive knowledge, and the occasional dash of droll humor.”

IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?

GT: I don’t enjoy editing and the first few days are always painful but I know it’s worthwhile, vital in fact.

IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?

GT: Along with plenty of editing I work with two critique groups – and my local real-life group which, when it’s not confined to Zoom, comes with the side benefit of homemade cake.

IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?

GT: Friendly and respectful. You both have the same aim – to produce the best possible book for your readers.

IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?

GT: To the hater I don’t have anything to say. Everybody has their own taste, I’m sure they’ll find other writing to love.

To the fan, thank you!

IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?Sea

GT: Don’t wait, get writing today, and consider trying NaNoWriMo, or Camp NaNo (April and July – more flexible rules).

IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?

GT: Who knows! 2020 held surprises for me as my promotion path for “Words The Sea Gave Us” put me on national radio twice and got me a regular radio slot talking about the history of words.

Plans for this year include Ireland Reads day, NaNoWriMo, publishing “Words The Vikings Gave Us”, ongoing publication of my comedy library serial at Channillo (the subscription reading platform, like Netflix for books), and my usual blogging, short fiction, and article work.

IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?

GT: I enjoy art and sketching but I know my limits so I was happy to pass this task over to Peter Sheehan ( ). I’m lucky to be friends with a very talented designer. I love the covers he designed for both books.

IBB: How often do you read? What genre?

GT: Every day, frequently when I should be doing something else.

I love fantasy, crime, history, biography, and adventure but I enjoy stretching my horizons by reading across all genres – my Goodreads list is very varied. I’m working my way through the 501 Books To Read Before You Die reading list and it has introduced me to many authors I hadn’t tried before.

IBB: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…

GT: I love the novels of CE Murphy ( and @ce_murphy on twitter). If you  enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day, check out “Redeemer”, it’s like Buffy meets Rosie the Riveter. Originally from Alaska she was briefly a member of my NaNoWriMo region and charmed us all. She’s now settled in Dublin and turns out great books faster than any other writer I know. I’m in awe!

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.

For more on Grace and her work, please visit:

Words The Sea Gave Us and How to Get Your Name in the Dictionary






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