Finding Your Calling in Life

A Writer By Chance 

by Emma Hannigan 

Unlike many wonderful authors I have the privilege of knowing, I didn’t realise I wanted to be a writer until quite late in life. I knew I hadn’t found myself. I knew I was hopping from one job to another looking for my calling in life.


My epiphany came when I lay in a hospital bed having been diagnosed with cancer for the first time back in 2008. This should’ve been the darkest moment of my life, but there was a little chink of light shining through. I believe things happen for a reason and I believe things happen at the right time. Most of all I believe someone was watching over me during that time.

I began to log what was happening to me, as a spleen-venting exercise. The comfort and pleasure I derived from pouring my heart and soul onto a computer screen was incredible. Even though I was in hospital enduring surgery and chemotherapy, I felt safe and comfortable. My body was going through hell, but my mind was on a completely different journey of discovery.

I decided to turn my story into a novel. As my word count increased so too did my enjoyment of writing. My newfound skill was rewarded in the most amazing way possible when in 2009 my first novel Designer Genes was released.

I will never forget the feeling of pride and elation as I saw it on bookshelves for the first time. Since then I’ve penned six novels and my memoir Talk to the Headscarf.

Cancer has been snapping at my heels. I’ve just finished treatment for my ninth diagnosis. But I feel utterly blessed. My new novel The Summer Guest is in stores across Ireland and the UK. I am currently finishing my next offering, which will be out in time for Christmas 2014. So life is good.


Writing has been my saviour. It has been my coping mechanism, my therapy and the best form of escapism imaginable. Just as readers are transported to a different set of circumstances while delving into a book, so too is the author. I adore the fact that I can sit at my computer and allow my imagination to take over.

The best part about being a writer is that nobody knows if I’m ill or healthy while I work. I can be in a hospital bed or at my desk in my office, in a smart suit or my pyjamas the results are the same!

Writing affords wonderful freedom of mind and spirit. Fiction writing can be so cathartic. I have the ability to create characters and control their destiny. I can decide where they go, what they do and whom they meet along the way. Writing is a craft and takes years of development and learning to hone in on the best way to get a story across, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Each author has his or her own voice and that’s what makes each writer unique.

I am honoured to have lots of readers who constantly write to me telling me how much they enjoy my stories. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the tsunami of warmth support encouragement and kindness I’ve received over the years. I know I’m extremely lucky to have found my calling in life! I hope to bring continued joy to many more readers for years to come.

Love and light

Emma x

Emma lives in Bray, Co Wicklow with her husband Cian their son Sacha and daughter Kim. Her latest novel, The Summer Guest, is out now.

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