Josh Earley from Monksland, Athlone, is not your typical 14-year-old. The Marist College student is all ready for the launch of his second book, Shrunk: The Wasp Kingdom, taking place on Sunday, November 8, at the Athlone Springs Hotel. I caught up with Josh during the week for a chat on what it is like to be one of Ireland's youngest published authors.
Josh Earley began writing short stories in national school, but it was when he began at Marist College that he took the step of penning his first book. "I started to find old copies of short stories in my room and began to realise how many ideas I had for books," Josh says.
"I came across one I had written in sixth class called Shrunk. It was just a two-page story but I worked on it over the summer and made it long enough for a book. A friend of mine's mother works with a publishing office, so I gave her the manuscript to read. I got a call to say the people at her publishing office really liked it, and it was one of the best feelings I have ever had."
It took Josh just three months to write his first book. "It was such a fresh idea that I could not walk away from it," he says. "As soon as an idea came into my head I would be looking for a pen and paper." Josh's first instalment of Shrunk sold out in three months and the young man has gained many well-wishers and admirers since then.
"I have had a lot of support locally, and I even got messages from some celebrities too," he says with a smile. "Brian Cox sent me a message and people like Lisa Fitzpatrick, Linda Martin, Johnny Logan, and Roddy Doyle. To get personal messages from these people has been amazing."
Josh wrote his second book while he was in the middle of his summer exams. However, despite the heavy workload he managed to keep up with his schoolwork and scored impressively in his tests. His strong work ethic and determination to do well rings through when talking to him.
Josh's parents Ivor and Claire could not be prouder of their son and are grateful to the staff and management at Marist College for the interest and support they have shown Josh since his journey began. "We are extremely proud of Josh," mum Claire says. "He has always been the artistic type."
"One of his former teachers did tell us that he had a knack for writing, so we had an idea," dad Ivor tells me. "We knew he would do something along the lines of English. We thought it would be way down the line when he is older, so we are absolutely bursting with pride."
Josh has also had huge support from his friends and classmates. "My friends always knew how much I love writing. I was always scribbling short stories in my copy at school, so they all said they knew I would so something like this eventually. They have been telling everybody about the book and have been inviting loads of people to the launch, so they have been really supportive."
As for how his life has changed since the release of his first book: "It didn't really hit me when the first book came out," he says, "but then people started contacting me on Facebook and asking for advice on how to write a book. Then it really hit me. I was thinking, 'I am a published author and people are asking me for advice,' it's just unbelievable."
The launch of Shrunk: The Wasp Kingdom takes place this Sunday, November 8, at the Athlone Springs Hotelis at 3pm. Both of Josh's books will be available on the day as a pack.