writing

Instructions for a Second-hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

Every now and then, a special book comes and finds me. Most of the time, it’s a book I’m reading, written by someone else, that grips me and won’t let me go until The End. But for the last four years I’ve been gripped by my own book.

I first had the idea for Instructions for a Second-hand Heart in September 2012. I read a real-life article about a boy who had died in a tragic accident and knew right away that there was a story there. I started work on it straight away. The character of Jonny came immediately – he is dying and needs a new heart – but the other narrator, Niamh, took a little bit longer. She’s the sister of the boy who dies. How their stories developed and intertwined was very hard to write; each of them faces their own difficulties and I cried over them both. But they wouldn’t leave me alone – I knew this was an important book to me and persevered.

I wanted to give up a lot. Even when I had finished writing, I knew it wasn’t ready yet. I rewrote it four or five times before it went to my publisher and then we did several big edits together. And eventually, it became the story I wanted it to be: a book of my heart.

It might be the only time in my life I write something that means so much to me. I really hope that readers love it too – it’s officially out on 1st November 2016, and is suitable for readers age 12+.

What are the special stories that have stayed with you?

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