This is a bit of a one-of, more generalised subject. The next blog will be about a particular book/writer. (One-of is correct, by the way, not 'one-off,' in case you were thinking, wow, can't even spell right! It's a shortened form of 'one of these.') Moving on, then.
Growing up, as I did, during the troubles, I was very aware that all over the world there was a very simplistic view of what was happening in Northern Ireland, i.e. people seemed to believe that all Catholics thought one thing, and all Protestants thought something else, and that all Catholics hated all Protestants and vice versa. I knew that wasn’t true. It was so much more complex than that. Many on both sides of the divide were horrified at what was happening and only wanted peace and reconciliation.
I wanted to write something to show, without lecturing, that a lot of ordinary people in Northern Ireland had no problem with each other – it was just a small percentage who were fighting; and another relatively small percentage who supported them. By the time the book was finished, the troubles were over, so recently I rewrote it to reflect the same thing in the current climate. Of course, like any writer, I also just wanted to write a book, whatever it was about. I had various characters in mind from the start, and I wanted to develop their lives.
When I learnt that Night Publishing intended to sell mainly over the internet, I was a bit worried. How would this work out? Didn’t people mostly buy from actual bookshops? Would enough people be computer literate to know how to buy Belfast Girls? But I’ve found that I needn’t have worried – there’s a swiftly growing audience, not only for internet sales, but over and above that for eBooks.
It’s been a great surprise and a delight to me to see my novel doing so well. When I first read a review by the Ulster Tatler which chose Belfast Girls as its Book of the Month in March, I couldn’t believe it. When I saw Belfast Girls listed as No. 54 in Women’s Literary Fiction on UK Kindle early in March, its first appearance in a top 100, I thought I must have misread the ranking, and even more so when the book went on to reach No 8. And when it reached No. 26 in Romance on USA Kindle, that was amazing.
The final shock came when I heard I had won the Night Publishing Book of the Year Award. And yet, having said this, I’m daily hoping and almost expecting to see my book go up the charts even further and I’m so excited watching as it keeps on climbing. People are buying eBooks now, including my eBooks, by the bucketful!