Leeds author who was bullied at school says escaping into fictional world helped him overcome mental health problems

A trainee paramedic from Leeds who has been writing a book for 14 years said escaping into a fictional world helped him overcome mental health problems as a teenager after he endured bullying at school.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 4:45 am
Kier McGuinness with copies of his book Generation Dead.

The 'horror-comedy' book that 26-year-old Kier McGuinness started writing when he was aged just 12 has now been published.

Kier, of Farsley, said the process of starting to write the book called Generation Dead helped him cope.

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Kier McGuinness pictured when he was a teenager

"Having dealt with acute mental health disorders through my teens I would often escape my own brain to another world... a world I wanted to be in rather than the reality I was in," he said.

"I live to tell stories, sometimes stories are all we have.

"If I can gift that to someone who is in the same situation I was growing up, then I know I have done good."

Kier, who is dyslexic, went to high school at Priesthorpe in Stanningley and later studied at Leeds College of Art.

Kier McGuinness pictured ahead of his his school prom

He is currently training to be a paramedic with West Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Kier said he is also a trained one-to-one counsellor for 'overwhelmed' adolescents and young adults.

"I began writing Generation Dead at age 12, coming into high school and already knowing my sexuality," he said.

"I was an easy target for the other children. I was bullied relentlessly about my weight, hair colour and sexuality until I left in 2011.

Kier McGuinness pictured when he was a teenager

"I still didn’t understand myself, whereas my peers seemed to have their in crowds with all the popular kids.

"I was the runt of the litter. I didn’t get to explore who I was until I actually left school and a lot of the kids robbed me of my important years of discovery."

Kier said he has had hundreds of pre-orders for adult horror-comedy fiction book Generation Dead, which is set in Leeds.

It is set in time just after the London Riots of 2011 and follows the lives of four fresh-out-of-school students living together in Leeds city centre.

Kier McGuinness pictured when he was a teenager

They decide to throw a New Year’s Eve Party that goes awry when they discover the zombie apocalypse unfolding in their own living room.

Kier said: "In the chaos they become separated and must grasp the harsh reality that is now the undead nightmare breaking out in Leeds.

"It is up to the students to reunite with each other while staying alive.

"They find themselves holding up in a supermarket while trying to figure out what to do next.

"Though, they soon realise the undead threat is the least of their worries when they must contend with other people, first world problems and each other.

KIetr McGuinness pictured when he was a young schoolboy.

"The book puts a new spin on what it means to be a teenager as they must discover a lot about themselves, as well as battling personal demons, but most importantly who or what is behind this outbreak."

Kier said the book is due to debut at the top of Amazon's best new reads.

The book, which is published by Bradford-based Curious Cat Books, is set to be launched at Waterstones in Bradford on October 16.

Guests including West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin are due to be at the launch event.

Kier said: "Creative writing gives me purpose, while I aspire to inspire adrenaline fuelled page turning or making someone laugh until it hurts, I somehow force my audience to believe to look within themselves, what it means to be human.

"It’s an entire universe in my head, these lives, these characters and the imaginary worlds right down to what colour the pattern is in the walls.

" I like to push new boundaries and break the rules of traditional creative writing.

"Most importantly everyone needs an escape, my escape is writing.

"I like to play pretend and live in the land of make believe; the real world is sometimes ugly and the people are uglier.

"My own mind was often the ugliest of them all too.

"However, one thing I was sure of was my love of books, movies and comics.

"I’ve suffered greatly with mental health struggles growing up from childhood trauma through bullying and so on.

"I’ve experienced heartbreak which led to anxiety, which is still heavy in my life."

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