• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

My Publishing Journey by Roisin Meaney

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roisin meaney

Roisin Meaney

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My twentieth book just hit the shelves. How the heck did that happen? Let me think…

In September 2001 I boarded a plane bound for San Francisco, where one of my brothers happened to live. The flight was free – fortuitously, I’d won enough air miles in a competition a few months before to get me there and back for nothing. Not that I was planning to come back anytime soon: the return date on my ticket was for the following July. I’d taken a year off my primary teaching job, determined to try my hand at writing a novel, ready at last to scratch the itch that had been bugging me for about a decade, ever since I’d worked, during a previous career break, in advertising in London. ‘Surely,’ I’d thought then, ‘if I can write a 500 word radio ad, I can write a novel.’ Bit of a quantum leap, I know, but still the seed had been sown then. In the intervening years it had been shoved aside by life, but now I was finally about to re-ignite it (or whatever you do to coax dormant seeds back to life) and see if I did indeed have what it took to go from Once upon a time to The End.

I was armed with a plot. I’d devised it during a weekend writing course I’d signed up for, just a few weeks before my departure. Looking back, I can see how ridiculously ignorant I was about the nuts and bolts of novel writing. I knew virtually nothing about pacing or character development or structure or story arc, but I had just about enough left of the courage that had enabled me to approach advertising agencies in London armed with a (very) homemade portfolio of ads, and the tenacity to keep approaching until one of them took pity on me and put me to work. I could do this, I told myself. One day at a time, one page at a time. I could do it.

Life Before Us by Roisin MeaneySo I began. Every day after breakfast I’d wave my brother off to work and open the laptop I’d invested in for the purpose, and tap away at the keys until I’d had enough, and then I’d close the laptop and go to find a yoga class (they were as common in the city by the bay as pubs were in Ireland). Slowly, my story grew. Little by little, my word count increased until one day, about a month before I was due to pack up and go home, I got to The End. I had no idea how good, bad or indifferent it was. I’d shared it with nobody. My brother couldn’t care less – he wasn’t a reader – and there wasn’t anyone else there I was comfortable enough showing it to. I emailed my pal Judi Curtin back in Limerick; she’d recently had her first book accepted for publication, so she was my expert. ‘What now?’ I asked, and she told me that her publishers, new to the market, were running a competition to launch themselves, and I should send them my first three chapters to be in the running.

I sent off the chapters, and the rest of my time in the States passed by. I packed my bag and came home, and resumed my teaching life. Every so often I’d think ‘I really should send the manuscript off to other publishers’ and I’d get waylaid and forget – and then one day, after my Junior Infants had gone home and I was putting order on the chaos, I got a phone call. The woman on the other end asked me if I was sitting down, and when I’d sat down she told me I’d won a two-book deal, and that was how the books began.

I remember the excitement the first time I laid eyes on my first book in book form. I’m not likely to forget it, as I’ve felt it nineteen times since. Last time was about a fortnight ago, when I saw my latest book as a book for the first time. It never goes away, that excitement. Isn’t that pretty wonderful?

Sadly, that publisher didn’t last, but happily, Hodder Headline Ireland took me in for the two books that followed the first two, and the two that came after that, and I’m still with them today. They’re now Hachette Books Ireland, and I’ve had the same editor for the past eighteen books, apart from when she was out on maternity leave – and the editor who was drafted in to keep the show on the road was none other than the woman who’d phoned to ask if I was sitting down in 2002. You couldn’t make it up.

Book twenty-one has yet to be plotted. I’ve assembled a cast of characters and I’ve sorted a structure, but the storylines haven’t been nailed down yet. Some things get more familiar the more times you do them, but not any easier. I’m not complaining: I chose this life (I gave up teaching in 2008) and most of the time it’s exactly where I want to be, and I’m very grateful that I’m here.

And I’m not going anywhere. Here’s to the next twenty.

(c) Roisin Meaney

Roisin Meaney Website

About Life Before Us:

Life Before Us by Roisin MeaneyThree facts about George
His daughter Suzi is the best thing in his life.
He thinks it might finally be time to get over Suzi’s mum.
He’s never tried online dating but there’s a first time for everything.

Three facts about Alice
She’s about to find out that her boyfriend is lying to her.
She never expected to return to her hometown (especially not without a job or a place to live).
Even though her heart has been trampled on, she’s still holding out for love.

One fact about love
It’s out there for George and Alice.
All that needs to happen is for them to meet.

Life Before Us is a wonderfully woven, beautiful book full of hope, love and characters so fully formed I feel like I know them. I adored it’ Emer McLysaght

‘A warm, insightful story about new beginnings and the power of kindness’ Rachael English

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Roisin Meaney was born in Listowel, Co Kerry, She has lived in the US, Canada, Africa and Europe but is now based in Limerick, Ireland. This Number One bestselling author is a consistent presence on the Irish bestseller list and she is the author of twenty novels including three stand alone novels set in the fictional island off the west coast of Ireland: One Summer, After the Wedding and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Her other bestsellers include: The Last Week of May, The People Next Door, Half Seven on a Thursday, Love in the Making, The Things We Do For Love, Something in Common, Two Fridays in April, The Reunion, The Anniversary, The Restaurant, It’s that Time of Year and The Book Club.

She has also written books for children. Connect with Roisin Meaney on
@roisinmeaney
www.roisinmeaney.com

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