I have been wanting to write this blog post for a while and given that, as I write this, we are on the eve of publication of Apple of My Eye - my TENTH published novel and second thriller, it seemed like now was the perfect time.
Yep. Ten novels, now published into other books and my, it has been one helluva journey. My life has changed in every way since that time 13 years ago when I first decided to try and write a novel.
I hadn't studied anything about writing a novel. I knew I had to write maybe 85,000 words and from that point I ran with an idea of a book about Grace Adams, a young mum swamped by Post Natal Depression and trying to find her sense of identity again.
Did I know it would be published? Nope.
Did I believe it would be published? Nope.
I just wanted, or actually, needed to write it. I was turning 30, I had lost a friend to cancer. I felt the need to DO SOMETHING big and that for me had always been to write a novel. So I did.
And it did get published, in 2007. And it went to number 2 in the Irish bestsellers and I wrote seven more novels for my Irish published Poolbeg Press and I learned something new from each and every one of them.
I have some personal favourites (Feels Like Maybe, It's Got To Be Perfect and The First Time I Said Goodbye if you want to know) but then I felt the need to do something a little different.
And my life was changing dramatically again. In the years between my first book with Poolbeg and my last, I had acquired another child, a couple of life changing health conditions and had even had a brush with a life-threatening illness. I was also turning 40 - and 40, just like 30, focused my mind.
So I wrote a book called 'A Single Red Thread' and nobody wanted it.
A lot of publishers said "erm... maybe... possibly.... but no".
So I wrote the start of another novel, then called 'What She Left Behind' and that - in time after a series of ups and downs and almost giving up became 'Her Name Was Rose'. It was a success. A big success. I am truly humbled by how much of a success it was. It was on a whole other level than my previous books and it was amazing.
But it did leave me UTTERLY terrified of a number of things.
I kept slipping into old habits in terms of writing - writing more to a women's fiction audience than at the pace crime readers demand. This was particularly hard for me. There were great swathes of what I thought was my best, most artistic, writing that I had to rip out of the book and with each cut/ delete I wanted to scream.
Through this time, my agent, Get Nichol, and my editor Phoebe Morgan, and my writing BFF and beta reader Fionnuala Kearney held my hand and mopped my brow like literary birthing partners and they made it all seem a little less terrifying.
This book went through an intensive edit period and again I learned SO MUCH about myself as a writer - and some of it was simply that when the going gets tough, the tough eat too many Maltesers, but we got there.
And I'm so proud of this book. I think I've taken my writing to a new level once again. I hope that as readers you all do too.
It's almost time for me, as the writer, to let go of my book. To let the book gods work their magic and hope that this book does well. It is terrifying and exhilarating. I know I have to brace myself for every kind of review. I know I have to be brave, full stop.
And it does take guts and my anxiety is at fever pitch because yes, this is Eliana and Louise's story but with every book I put a bit of myself out there for people to look at and judge. It's very much like sending your child to school and hoping no one pulls their hair or steals their lunchbox.
But TEN BOOKS in, I absolutely realise that I am extremely privileged to be in this position. I am lucky. I have worked hard to create that luck, but I am still lucky. I have an AMAZING team behind me in Avon Books and Harper Collins Ireland. I have amazing friends and family. I have the most supportive agent in the business. I have great friends in the book selling trade - people who were strangers to me 13 years ago. I have people wanting me to succeed as much as I do.
And most of all, I have THE BEST readers in the world. And I don't take a single one of you for granted. You have my heart, always.
So please, enjoy Apple of My Eye. Please don't steal her lunch.
Why Skirting the Issue?
For 14 years I wrote my Skirting the Issue column for the Derry Journal each Friday - I may have moved on, but I still have opinions!