Today I have Gerry McCullough on the blog, explaining what makes her tick as a writer.
I suppose we all have a built-in desire to express ourselves, to explore out deepest feelings and ideas. But shyness or something like that probably keeps us from sharing these thoughts with even our closest friends. So we write them down.
That’s what I did, anyway. And for years I kept my writing to myself. No one was allowed to see it, or even to know I’d written anything, if I could prevent it.
At the same time, I made up stories for my friends and I to act out, from my earliest childhood, and in fact wrote a play which was performed by my class at primary school with the teacher’s help and organisation. I suppose these felt different – they were stories rather than self-revelation.
Another reason for wanting to write, and one which has pushed me on since I was 7 or 8, was that I’ve always loved reading. And because of that, I’ve wanted to write the sort of stuff I enjoy. So I began by copying my favourite writers, and did that for years. It takes a while before your writing becomes actually original!
I grew up in a home where everyone enjoyed reading – my mother, my father, and my three sisters. My older sister took to me to the library when I was 8, and arranged for me to join it. I became an ardent reader, and therefore a writer. At my primary school, it happened that I was put into a ‘house’ called Charlotte, after Charlotte Bronte, and the headmistress, in telling us about the various houses, said, ‘Not everyone in ‘Charlotte’ house will be a wonderful writer – but perhaps some of you will!’ That was a definite spark. I remember thinking, ‘Why shouldn’t I be one?’
Although I was too shy to show my writing to friends or family, I had no hesitation in sending it to a strange publisher. I was in my teens before I had anything worth sending, anything long enough to be called a book. (In fact, it was very short – I didn’t really think about how long the usual book is!)
I assumed, I suppose, that as soon as I had written a book, the first publisher I offered it to would snap it up. Wrong! I spent years being rejected – a very painful process, I have to say. I had numerous short stories published, but no book.
Then at last, two years ago, my book ‘Belfast Girls’ was accepted by Night Publishing and after about four months, at the end of 2010, it was published. I’ll always be grateful to Tim Roux for being the first publisher to accept me, after the long discouraging trek around all the major publishers – which everyone from Charlotte Bronte to PG Wodehouse and JK Rowling has had.
Not long after this, my husband, who has his own publishing company, Precious Oil Publications, said, ‘Now, since you’ve proved yourself, maybe you’ll let me publish your next books?’ I’d always felt that to be published by my own husband would be next door to vanity publishing. But suddenly, as ‘Belfast Girls’ grew more and more successful, I realized I was no longer worried about that. I had done so much of the publicity for the book myself that I didn’t feel that it would make much difference in that area, either. Times have changed. The coming of the eBook and Internet publishing has taken away the stigma from self-publishing.
Currently I’ve just had my fourth book published by my new publisher, Precious Oil Publications – my third full-length novel. So far, there is ‘Belfast Girls’ (now taken over by POP), which I’m delighted to say has been doing really well, selling around 15,000 copies to date, and in the top 100 in overall ranking for over a month; followed by ‘Danger Danger’, another Irish romantic thriller, and an Irish short story collection, ‘The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus’. (Seanachie is the Irish for storyteller.)
And now there’s my fourth book. This is one I wrote years ago – the first I wrote when I myself was an adult. I’ve spent some time updating it for the modern world – it’s about a Belfast girl on holiday in Greece, and the things that happen to her – another Irish romantic thriller! The title is ‘Angel in Flight: An Angel Murphy Thriller’. The heroine, Angel Murphy, is a feisty young Belfast girl who has been badly hurt by an abusive marriage and is getting her life back together, and proving to be strong, self-reliant and able to sort out the villains she comes across without waiting for a hero to help her.
21st century or what?
Download your copy of ‘Belfast Girls’ here: http://amzn.to/MkPAmY
Download your copy of ‘Danger Danger’ here: http://amzn.to/MkPKej
Download your copy of ‘The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus’ here: http://amzn.to/LIg2uB
Download your copy of ‘Angel in Flight: An Angel Murphy Thriller’: http://amzn.to/MkQ10P
Follow Gerry on Twitter: @Gerry1098