Welcome to the web site of JJ Sheahan
May 24, 2017

I wasn’t born depressed –
I was born free.
Somehow, I picked it up, or learned it,
or caught it.
Maybe the could-be-crack in me faulted under stress.
Maybe it was a virus, like the one that causes stomach ulcers,
or a cancer-like cell that hides in us all.
Maybe I looked down once too often and the fear stuck.
It doesn’t matter now. read more …


May 24, 2017

Exploring this Spiritual Space – it’s a working title for what is turning into a maybe-something-more-than-scribbles. A blend of journal-memoir-experimental prose. Might amount to nothing – might not. Clarifying is the notion of giving away control, giving way to what is waiting.
It sounds terribly heavy & serious, I know, but no apologies. I have always thought I am here for more than the oxygen.

Have a good day.

May 24, 2017

Today is the anniversary of the Kapooka Tragedy: 21 May 1945.
It took me 5 years to research and write this book. I am grateful to all those who shared with me their experiences, from whom learned so much, and because of whom there is something of a literary memorial to these men and the grief that is still felt.
Writing the book has left its mark on me. Today, I feel as though these men are part of my extended family.

Image may contain: flower and outdoor

August 23, 2016

Review: How it Began: a Time-traveler’s Guide to the Universe by Chris Impey, 2012.

Not the sort of book I can read in an extended sitting. Too much information and too many mind-bending ideas. The style is colloquial which is most helpful for an amateur in the field.

Impey’s strength is that he does a fine job of explaining difficult concepts in reasonably simple terms with numerous analogies to the ordinary and everyday. So, to illustrate the chanciness of any one thing occurring, he tells the story of how he met his wife, that the reason his son – this son – is listening to him is because of the peculiarities of a monkey in South America. He describes the size of the solar system in terms of apricots and peas and football fields, etc etc etc.  read more …


August 8, 2016
Why? They inspire me … I love teasing out the technique … I want to learn how
1. from The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien – hardback 1974, p137
– the battle for Minas Tirith
The Nazgûl came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and his malice, were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circled above the City, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and crawling, and of death.

read more …


July 16, 2016

As a writer and a reader, I highly recommend The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

I re-read this book trying to further immerse myself in a particular style, tone, rhythm. I had forgotten most of it, so it was Christmas all over again! Roy won the 1997 Booker Prize with this, and has not written another novel as far as I know. I wish she would.  read more …

June 15, 2016

Epic and engrossing, despite the fact that I only picked it up to study Mitchener’s style and approach to his subject.

It is old-school, heavy going in many places. This is the opening line of the second paragraph:

Over its brooding surface immense winds swept back and forth, whipping the waters into towering waves that crashed down upon the world’s seacoasts, tearing away rocks and eroding the land.

Shades of Genesis.

In the first chapter, 17 pages, there is no direct speech, there are no characters apart from the unidentified narrator, and the plot events are geologic or climatic. The time spans ‘millions and millions of years’ but, despite that, it is intense.  read more …


May 28, 2016

I had an idea for an opening line for a new novel.

As I tried to follow it with other lines, I kept changing what I’d written, what I wrote as I wrote it – a constant revising of what I had put outside my head. As I’d done many times in the past, I queried the merits of being able to so easily alter a draft in process, and questioned whether I oughtn’t write with a biro on paper instead. It might limit this incessant reviewing and allow my mind to roam freer. But maybe I just need to learn to type properly.

Amidst the musings, it occurred to me that I could retrace the changes I’d made to a few lines as I went along. So I tapped back the Undo button repeatedly until I got back to the start, copying each version as I went. (Something I could not do with a paper version!)

Why?  read more …

March 19, 2016

The Dragon Keeper

My daughter thinks little of this book and was giving away her copy to charity. I had enjoyed the Farseer Trilogy but I trust my daughter’s acumen. There was nothing else pressing to read, but there is little enough time to read. However, I read it as a writer: if it is not such a flash book, why? I read it to try to work out what didn’t work well.

Maybe the quality picked up; maybe I just hate leaving things unfinished; I am now reading the fourth in the sequence.  read more …

March 19, 2016

The Thin Red Line by James Jones

There are many excellent reviews on Goodreads, from which much background to the author and the battles on Guadalcanal can be gleaned.

My take?

This is an ant’s-eye view of Armageddon. Jones was a veteran of WWII and his experiences show. The pervading mood is despair; where there isn’t, there is insanity. It is an anti-war book in the way that All Quiet on the Western Front is anti-war: the authors tell it like it was for the participants, and it was horrific.

There is nothing to suggest in today’s news that anything has changed for those caught up in war.

PS  The book was first published in 1963, only eighteen years after WWII ended. I was five. I grew up in the shadows of that war without realising it: I thought it was ancient history. Now, I see the shadows.