The outstanding reviews for my next Guest Star tell it all…
“Touted by many as Ireland’s answer to JK Rowling, Healy writes with imagination and wit” ~Andrea Byrne, The Independant, February 28, 2010
“Tommy Storm is a knockout achievement that succeeds on so many levels…”~Tony Hickey, Village Magazine
“Blockbuster…” ~The Irish Times (Nov. 14, 2009)
HDYGT: Welcome AJ Healy! Please tell our readers how you became a ROCK STAR!! Woo Hoo!! Yeah!
AJ Healy: Uh… I’m a writer.
HDYGT: Of course you are! All the best Rockers write their own music, except for Elvis.
AJ Healy: No. That was the Moody Blues, and—
HDYGT: (singing) Knights in white satin, never reaching the end–
AJ Healy: —and I wasn’t even born when that came out.
HDYGT: That’s so profound! I was re-born, too, when I read Tommy Storm & the Galactic Knight’s politically in-tune lyrics. My favourite’s “I’m A-Sad-Bin-Liner” about all the trash bags that are feeling empty and lonely because everyone’s recycling these days.
AJ Healy: That’s actually a reference to Osama bi—
HDYGT: —toured in 2006, man! I know all about it. It hit the Top of the Charts, and I read that Tommy Storm & the Galactic Knights has already been called a “BLOCKBUSTER” by the Irish Times!! I do my research, especially with Rock Stars.
AJ Healy: (wonders if he’s being interviewed in a parallel universe)
HDYGT: So is Quercus the name of your new Rock Opera?
AJ Healy: Are we good?
HDYGT: We’re good.
AJ Healy: Good.
HDYGT: So you’re BOOKED on tour where? I know our readers are dying to hear Tommy Storm perform. Hey, that rhymes!
AJ Healy: (smiling on the outside) In bookshops across the UK and Ireland,
HDYGT: Cool tour– Bookshops Rock! So what do you like most about being a—
AJ Healy: —a WRITER? I like the commute, bed to desk can take 60 seconds. I also love the state of losing myself completely in the writing. My imagination roams free and I am just in the moment – without any thought for the past or future.
HDYGT: Spoken like a true Rocker.
AJ Healy: Writer.
HDYGT: Whatever. What qualities make you particularly suited to —?
AJ Healy: —being a writer?
HDYGT: (thinks ‘Cool the way this Rocker and I can finish each other’s sentences, like we’re riding the same wave.’)
AJ Healy: Well, I’m lazy, have an overdeveloped imagination, and an underdeveloped appreciation for the monthly salary. Plus I’m lucky to be able to express my thoughts in the written word.
HDYGT: So…what you’re saying is…you’ve started writing, too!? That’s impressive, you’re multi talented!
AJ Healy: (decides HDYGTs tripped over a worm hole and fell on her head)
HDYGT: Are these writing ‘qualities’ something you Rockers work on or are they innate?
AJ Healy: The laziness, overdeveloped imagination and underdeveloped salary appreciation are innate. The ability to express my thoughts on paper is probably partly innate, but it’s also a skill that develops over time. In some of my previous jobs, I’ve had to write reports, letters, or plans, which definitely works the writing muscle, toning it for use as a novelist.
HDYGT: What were some of your previous jobs?
AJ Healy: I worked for myself, helping start-up companies get going and advising established companies on strategy and on big negotiations.
HDYGT: Did that lead into your being a Roc—?
AJ Healy: —Writer? No. Turning to writing was a leap away from corporate life, to a more fulfilling yet more uncertain path.
HDYGT: How did you get from the corporate world to where you are today?
AJ Healy: A lot of my work dried up after the attacks of 9/11, and it was a time for me to take stock of my life. I’d always wanted to be a writer, so I stopped looking for work, lived like a student and wrote for six months. For the next four years I tried to find a publisher – to no avail – so, against all advice, I self-published Tommy Storm. It sold a few thousand copies in Ireland and then Quercus bought the rights to it, relaunched it in 2008 and paid me an advance to write Tommy Storm & the Galactic Knights.
HDYGT: So this writing thing has been as successful as your music career?
AJ Healy: (resigned) I’d say it’s been even more successful.
HDYGT: What else have you done in your past?
AJ Healy: I started out working for Goldman Sachs in London. If you stay there, working in high finance, you’re likely to earn millions. Which is why people thought I was crazy to jump ship before the big bucks started flowing.
HDYGT: But you followed your passion?
AJ Healy: I left to start a brick factory in a township in South Africa just after Nelson Mandela got into power. This was my idealistic period, though I got it beaten out of me somewhat.
HDYGT: A brick fell on your head?
AJ Healy: I got held up at gun point by a drug-crazed robber in a South African township, whose main form of greeting was: “I kill you, I kill you, I kill you.”
HDYGT: I think I’d rather have a brick fall on my head.
AJ Healy: (imagines ways he might oblige HDYGT)
AJ Healy: When it was happening I thought: “50/50 he shoots. 50/50 I die if he shoots… hmm… That’s a one-in-four chance that I die. Or 25% if expressed as a percentage.” Thankfully, the other 25% possibility (he shoots, I don’t die) is what happened.
HDYGT: That’s an amazing story. Any life lessons you’d like to share?
AJ Healy: Yes, I think I’ve gained valuable life experiences from everything I’ve done. Among other things at Goldman, I learned what type of person I could be and didn’t like what I saw. I realised very early on that money was not a motivating force in my life, so I’m still happy that I didn’t become a financial high-flyer.
In South Africa I learned what it is to think you’ve got five seconds to live – I become a maths nerd, expressing probabilities as fractions… Plus I saw how a different culture lives.
Both Goldman and South Africa were extremes that probably helped broaden my mind and gave me new perspectives.
HDYGT: Thank you AJ Healy, for taking us out of this world through your exciting adventures, both on and off the page– and as always, Thank you for Playing!!