Nestled in the heart of Dublin city, St Enda's Terrace is like any other close-knit community: warm, colourful, looks after its own.
But behind closed doors lie secrets . . .
But behind closed doors lie secrets . . .
In Number Eight he wants a baby, she doesn't. The guy a few doors down just wants to find love. Across the street a single mum struggles to cope. While the people next door might appear to have it all, their mortgage holder knows different.
When the street syndicate wins the National Lottery, it seems that things are looking up. Enter a New York production company on a mission to document a 'quintessential' Dublin community - just as it becomes clear that the winning ticket is nowhere to be found.
Facades begin to crumble in the scramble to uncover the missing ticket and, as the gloves come off for the once unremarkable residents of St Enda's, it's game on with everything to play for.
Hello Maria and a very warm welcome to High Heels and Book Deals. The first question is always tell me your journey to publication.
Hi Mel. Thanks for having me. You might want to make a cup of tea though – this may take some time! Basically, I’ve always scribbled bits and pieces. I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t writing something and dreaming of one day writing a book. To be honest, that dream occupied the space in my mind that also housed the dream of winning the lotto or owning a beautiful exotic island! I had four children and life was hectic for a while but when the youngest started school four years ago, I decided to really give the writing a go. I wrote a book, attended workshops and courses, sent it out, got rejections, rewrote, sent it out again – you know how it goes.
I was lucky enough at that stage to have a few short stories published, which gave me the confidence to keep at it. Then someone suggested to me that I should join Twitter. I thought I’d hate it. When I sent out that first tentative ‘Hello, is there anyone there?’ tweet, I thought that would be it – my first and final tweet. Little did I know what would happen next. As the weeks and months went on, I began to adore the social networking site and found myself tweeting every single day. Then something magical happened. I was contacted by Sheila Crowley, literary agent with Curtis Brown in London, asking to meet me. She told me that if I could write like I could tweet, I’d have something special. She asked me to write something new and fresh and send her a few chapters. That’s when my debut novel, ANY DREAM WILL DO, was born. Sheila loved it and sent it out to publishers and only weeks later; I was signing a contract with Hachette Ireland. Six months after that I was living my dream, seeing my book on display in shops. Next stop the lotto!
You’ve just released your second novel, THE TERRACE. Who is your favourite character and why?
I really love all my characters in THE TERRACE but I suppose Maggie is the one who I’m mostly drawn to. She’s the organiser of the street. She’s warm and kind and always puts herself last for the sake of her family and friends. She has Dublin oozing from her pores and is very proud of where she comes from. She has a few wobbles during the course of the book but she’s created so much love around her, that everybody holds her up until she’s back on track again. We all need a ‘Maggie’ in our lives!
You have a young family that demands a lot of your time. I often hear of you writing late into the night to get your work done. How does this work for you?
I suppose I’m at a lucky stage in my life that all four children are in school so that gives me time during the day. Generally, I drop them to school in the morning and get started on my writing at nine o’clock. I’ll write for about five hours until I have to go and pick them up. The rest of the day is bedlam with all the usual stuff associated with a house of children. But that’s when I’m disciplined! If I allow myself to log onto twitter (WARNING TO WRITERS: NOT A GOOD IDEA!), I can get lost in the Twitterverse and find my morning has disappeared. Or if I let the mess in the kitchen bother me and start to clean, iron, etc, my day is gone. It’s days like those that I end up writing at night time. Sometimes I’ll wait until everyone is in bed and start to write at around midnight. I do find it’s a productive time for me when everything is quiet and there are no distractions, but it can have a knock on affect as I’m exhausted the following day.
ANY DREAM WILL DO was written in first person and THE TERRACE is written in third person. Why the change and did you find it easier/harder/challenging?
As soon as I came up with the idea for THE TERRACE, I knew it would have to be in third person. I immediately began to form the characters in my head and I knew they’d have to tell their story. I really enjoyed writing in first person so I was a little daunted at first when faced with third, but once I started into it, I loved it and it flowed. I’m not saying I’ll never go back to first, but I think I’m more comfortable now with third.
What is your favourite women’s fiction novel and why?
I have so many favourites, it’s hard to pick out one, but having just heard the sad news of the passing of Maeve Binchy, I’m reminded of the joy I’ve had over the years from reading her novels. She was one amazing woman and her books have the ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time. I adore them all but I think Tara Road and The Lilac Bus were two of my favourites. She was an inspiration and she’ll be sorely missed.
I often feel that not being based in London, I miss out on such a lot of writing events. Living in Dublin, with a huge writing community, do you think this has helped you?
Yes, I definitely think being in Dublin is a great benefit. There are so many writing events held regularly around the city and there is such a great community of writers here. I’ve got to know a lot of authors over the last few years and the support we give each other is invaluable. My husband is a great support but there’s only so much he can take before his eyes glaze over! It’s great to have like-minded people to chat to because, let’s face it, we never tire of talking about our beloved books!
You’ve recently been offered another two book deal with Hachette, Ireland, congratulations. Any clues as to what the next book is about?
Thank you. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Hachette Ireland for another two books. I’ve started book three but have put it aside for a few weeks until the children go back to school. I won’t say too much about it at the moment because I’m still playing around with plotlines but let’s just say there’s a wedding looming and a missing bride!
What is your best tip for writers/aspiring authors?
I’ve been given so much brilliant advice over the last few years, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. But I suppose the biggest thing I’ve learnt is just don’t give up. It’s a tough business and we sometimes take rejections to heart and feel that we can’t do it. We can! If you want to be a writer/author – just write. Write every single day, no matter what it is. Hone your craft and one day you’ll achieve your dreams. I firmly believe that.
And your worst habit?
My beloved Twitter! It robs me of valuable writing time. But having said that, I’ve made the most amazing friends there who’ve become real life friends and that can’t be a bad thing!
Finally, what’s your poison – high heels or flats shoes?
Are you kidding? Heels all the way. The higher the better! There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I spend a lot of my time sitting in front of my computer with my slippers on so when I go out, I want to step into some glamorous heels. Secondly, my husband is six foot five, so if I don’t wear heels when I’m with him, I’m talking to his chest. And lastly, I just adore them. I love the feeling of slipping on a pair of gorgeous, high heels. They make me feel confident as well as feminine and glamorous.
I love these shoes. I call them my lucky shoes because I wore them the first time I met the girl who would later sign me and become my editor!
I love these to dress up a pair of denims. I bought them during our first family New York holiday. I've been to new York many times but this year I introduced my children to it for the first time. We're already planning our next trip there - they adored it!
These are my favourite glittery pair and hold a special place in my heart. Some years ago, I set two very good friends of mine up on a blind date. Last year I was bridesmaid at their wedding and these are the shoes I wore!
These I bought on a wild shopping spree in new York with my girlie friends to celebrate our 40th birthdays! Not the most comfortable but I love how feminine they make me feel!
When on holidays in Spain last week, I got a text from my editor to say copies of The Terrace had arrived. What better way to celebrate than to buy a pair of shoes! These are what I ended up with! They're comfy and fun and I've already worn them a few times!
Now these are my all time favourite shoes! I bought them for the launch of my debut novel' Any Dream Will Do, and I just adore them. I'm planning to wear them again for the launch of The Terrace next week and hope they'll bring me luck!
Wow, that woman has more shoes than me! I must do my own A Chat with...
I have a copy of THE TERRACE to giveaway to anyone based in UK or Ireland. Just leave a pick me comment below before Monday 6 August.
You can find details of The Terrace here and you can find out more about Maria on her lovely new website here. Good luck Maria!