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Claire Allan

Claire Allan was born and raised in Derry and is a self confessed home bird. She spends her days working as a mild mannered reporter for the Derry Journal, where she has worked since 1999. She is married to Neil and they have one son, Joseph, who is four going on 14, and baby daughter, Cara. Claire's debut novel, 'Rainy Days and Tuesdays' was published by Poolbeg Press in 2008. Since then she has become a spokesperson for Aware Defeat Depression on the subject of Postnatal Depression. Following the success of the novel she was also asked to be Site Expert on writing forum www.writewords.org Her website is www.claireallan.com and she blogs at www.diaryofamadmammy.blogspot.com Her second novel, 'Feels Like Maybe' deals with family relationships, infertility and unplanned pregnancy and once again features the glorious city of Derry.

Jennifer Banks
Saving Grace is the true story of Jennifer Banks, whose life is characterised by ups and downs that most people could not have endured. Born in the west of Ireland in 1965, the youngest of nine children, Jennifer has survived childhood verbal bullying, 17 years with a eating disorder, six years trapped in a violent marriage and, when her life looked to be getting back on track, she was then diagnosed with the debilitating illness Multiple Sclerosis. After a childhood bully tormented her for being overweight, Jennifer became bulimic and battled constantly with low self esteem. She ran away to London, hoping to escape the demons of her past, where she met and married Mehmet, a Turkish native living in London. Jennifer’s lack of self esteem was at an all time low to the point that she could not leave the man who was routinely harming her. Her life was full of twists and turns and extremes - she could be abused in the morning and stand in line at the Café Royal to greet Lady Diana in the evening. When they moved to Turkey after the wedding, Jennifer found herself trapped in a violent marriage in a foreign country; she couldn’t speak the language and had no friends or family to turn to. She finally escaped after a vicious beating which claimed the life of her unborn child and propelled her into action. Back in London, she rebuilt her life and even plucked up the courage to phone ‘Midnight Encounters’, a phone-in dating show on London radio. A month later a bag load of replies turned up at her door, but only one stood out. She and Steve are now happily married and have a daughter. Sadly there is no conventional happy ending for Jennifer, as she has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. However, after years of abuse, both by her own hands and by the hands of others, Jennifer has developed a positive and healthy look on life. With a combination of inner strength and the love of her family, she embraces every day. In her own words, “the show must and will go on!” Jennifer now works as a journalist for Mediability, regularly contributing articles to various publications on health, disability and eating disorders. Saving Grace is her first book. Saving Grace is the touching account of Jennifer’s life, told in her own words, and is a story of torment, violence, love, hate, loss, courage and hope. Her story will encourage and inspire everyone who reads it.
Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy was born on 28 March 1940 in Dublin and raised in Dalkey where she still lives. The eldest child of a lawyer and a nurse, Maeve received her education at the Holy Child Convent in nearby Killiney. From there she went on to earn herself a BA (Bachelor of Arts Degree) in History from University College Dublin. In the years after she graduated she taught in several schools for girls and wrote stories during her summer holidays. In 1969 one of her stories earned her a job writing a column in the Irish Times and her career as a writer officially began. She became an editor and moved to London. There she met her husband, Gordon Snell, a presenter for the BBC and author of children's books. Maeve Binchy's books have put her name on the top 10 of Britain's most popular writers, not to mention the New York Times' Bestseller List. Considered a true Irish storyteller, Binchy's novels touch on issues such as parent-child relationships and the illusion of love. However, Binchy's romance novels do not focus entirely on sex, but their appeal, instead, stems from the author's creation of the ordinary, identifiable characters who love and sometimes loose. Maeve Binchy remains without a doubt one of the most popular Irish novelists of the 20th Century; her novels of Irish romance have won over audiences all over the world.
Jacqui Broderick
I am a former magazine editor and published author. From a very early age I had a burning desire to write and would spend any spare moment writing story outlines. This interest and my love of horses have remained with me throughout my life. I am fortunate that I make my income through both writing and horses, making earning a living a pleasure. I was born in Derbyshire in 1962. I attended grammar school and attained A-levels in English, History and Needlework. After leaving school, I attended Art College and then studied Agriculture. After completing my education I had a series of jobs, the main attraction for any position being the amount of time available during working hours to write stories. During one period of employment I wrote outlines for a series of pony stories with the heroines named from A-Z. I worked on farms and as an Artificial Inseminator, making cows pregnant. Eventually I found office-based employment more lucrative and worked in a variety if industries. During a stint at Courtaulds I began providing written copy for the various departments and drifted into a role that I enjoyed, writing and being paid for it. I finished working in 1991 when I got married. Over the next few years I had three children, Kelly, James and India. While I work on a book they are also known as ShutUp, GoAway and AskGranny. After my marriage I lived on a farm, trained horses and finally had the time to write magazine articles. I had a few articles published in various country sports magazines. In 1997 we moved to Ireland. For me, the move meant leaving everything that I had ever known, my friends, my life and the small village where four generations if my family had grown up. However, at this time, Ireland was being promoted as a holiday destination and I was inspired by the advertising slogan ‘Live a Different Life’. I felt that Ireland was where my life would begin, where I would become someone, not just a wife and mother. We settled in the West of Ireland, close to Galway. Shortly after arriving in Ireland I founded Galway Life magazine. Galway is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and had no lifestyle magazine directed at the population. With absolutely no experience of publishing I set about creating a monthly, glossy, 100-page magazine which sold advertising and contained features about the county. A few months later I was the editor of the magazine, with journalists and a sales staff working for me. The magazine still operates in my original format, although a local businessman owns it and I am no longer involved in it. Through the magazine I met ex-jockey Shane Broderick, who was paralysed from the neck down in a racing accident. I felt that there would be a market for a book about Shane. The Shane Broderick Story was published at the end of 1999. It attracted an enormous amount of publicity, resulting in radio and television interviews for me. Just before the book was published I sold my share in the magazine, to concentrate on other writing projects. I have written professionally since the book was published. I have worked on various projects, researching and writing display media for the Connemara Natural Park. I was involved in a number of projects for this £2.8 million tourist site including the research and writing of the visual display media. I have written brochures and marketing literature for these companies. I have also written web sites, these include The Connemara Walking Trail, Horse Riding Ireland, Dartfield Horse Museum and Irish Equines. Ongoing projects include researching and writing a book detailing the history of Dartfield house. I have also rewritten the web site for the Connemara Trail and am researching into the viability of a new holiday venture in the Connemara area. I work from home, which is close to the sea, in Connemara. I write for part of the day and look after horses for the remainder if the time. I specialise in training very wild and nervous ponies, which is very rewarding, mentally if not financially. During the summer months I work on the oldest trail riding holiday in the world, The Connemara Trail. We lead parties of horse riders through the Connemara mountains and bogs from Galway to the coast at the western edge of Ireland. I have also continued writing books. I wrote Trainers over a two-month period, writing at least 3,500 words a day, sometimes twice this amount. I am lost without a book to write. Once one is completed there is an enormous gap in my life. I feel that even if I never sell another book again that I will still write. There are so many characters bursting to get out that I could be occupied for a very long time.
Colette Caddle
Colette Caddle was over halfway through writing her first novel, Too Little, Too Late, when two things happened. Her publisher and mentor, Kate Cruise-O’Brien died and her father was killed in an accident. ‘They died within a week of each other; it was a truly terrible time. I nearly gave up on the book there and then but I felt I owed it to Kate to finish it after the faith she’d shown in me.’ Kate’s faith was justified when Caddle’s book was published in the spring of 1999 and went straight into the top five on the best-seller list and to number one within two weeks. ‘I started writing my first book Too Little Too Late when I was disillusioned with my career and like everyone else, I dreamed of winning the Lotto. Unlike most people who imagine buying a new house or a car or going on amazing holidays, I dreamed of owning my own restaurant.’ ‘I chose the restaurant as a backdrop for Too Little Too Late because I thought my passion for food would make it easier for me to keep writing, I was always advised to “write about what you know”. And so because of my passion for food, and wine, I managed to complete my first book. It seemed to have quite an effect on some readers too. I had several complaints from women who couldn’t stop eating while they were reading!’ ‘So far, all my books have been based in Dublin, as that is where I live. I would, however, love to branch out but I feel comfortable writing about places I know really well. I’m hoping that when my sons are a bit older and more independent that we will be able to go abroad for a few weeks each year so that I can get some new experiences to write about. Linking this back to my passion for food and French wine, I think France is likely to be one of the first places we visit.’ ‘Right now I’m enjoying being mum to a baby again. I'm 5 years older than the last time I did this and some days I feel every minute of it! Having said that, I'm not as nervous with Sean as I was with Peter. I don't race to the doctor every time he coughs and I'm not taking his temperature every five minutes so I suppose that's progress. I have to be a lot more organised - not such a bad thing!’ Since her first novel Too Little Too Late, Caddle has since produced four more bestsellers: Shaken & Stirred, A Cut Above, Forever FM and Red Letter Day. Her books are sold throughout the English-speaking world and have also been translated into Dutch, German, Polish and Russian. Colette Caddle is married with two young boys and currently lives in Swords Co. Dublin. Over 120,000 copies of Colette’s novels have been sold in Ireland to date.
Dawn Cairns
Dawn Cairns works with her father, Eric Cairns in his business The Eric Cairns Partnership Estate Agents. They have two branches and Dawn works in the Stranmillis, Belfast branch. Dawn moved back to Belfast after nine years in Edinburgh where she worked at a variety of jobs as a student including barmaid, waitress, shop assistant and in the editorial department of The Stationery Office, formerly the HMSO. Dawn started off in the family business as a sales negotiator and then moved into marketing. "I enjoy the business but we are dealing with people at a very stressful time so we try to make it as painless as possible. On a lighter side you get to see snap shots of people's lives when you show prospective buyers round homes. I have dealt with everything from drunken vendors to opening bedroom doors to reveal people in an unsuitable state, to arriving to a showing with the owner still in the shower. The most fraught perhaps was when a family dog went for a viewer and sent him running in tears. In my current role I am responsible for marketing new homes, writing editorials for newspapers, advertising and liasing with designers for sales brochures." Dawn's father Eric is a well known businessman and is heavily involved with many charities. He is currently chairman of MAC - Men Against Cancer - which aims to set up prostate cancer screening units both in Belfast and Dublin. Eric is also an auctioneer and auctioned the last Delorian cars to be built in Northern Ireland back in the 80's. He is regularly involved in charity auctions. Now that he realises that Dawn is not going to be either a vet or a pilot, he, along with the rest of her family, is 100% supportive of Dawn's writing career.
Alan Cantrill
Alan was born in Coventry, the eldest of four, before moving to Birmingham. He left school to work for the civil service, staying there for fourteen years, during which he met his wife, Jen. He currently lives in Halesowen with his wife, dog and three cats. The New Bus Stop is his first book for children.
Jaye Carroll
Author of Looking for Mr Wrong
Ber Carroll
I was born in 1971 in Blarney. Being the middle child of six, I learnt the art of survival early. We were a working class family but my Dad was very ambitious for us and we were always talking about what we would be when we grew up. I had a brief stint of wanting to be a nun – I was only nine but my family still remember and like nothing better than to remind me of it. Then I wanted to be a music teacher (I could play piano quite well). Anyway, I ended up studying accounting – I was good at it in school and thought it would be an easy job! While I was in college I met Rob, now my husband. He saw me across a crowded nightclub and said “I want her!” Well, that’s what one of his friends recalls, despite the fact that particular friend wasn’t even there – for some reason he’s convinced he was! Rob and I lived in Dublin for a year after we graduated. Then we applied for an Australian visa and came to Sydney. The day we arrived was cold and wet. Some backpacker friends had promised us floor space to sleep on but that didn’t seem so appealing in light of the dreadful weather. We both thought “we’ve make a big mistake coming here!” but didn’t want to admit it to each other. Despite the shaky start, we loved life in Sydney. It was a city that had it all - the sun (yes, it did eventually appear), the stunning harbour, a choice of beaches and good career prospects. I did a creative writing class and started to write Executive Affair. I was working in the IT industry as a finance manager, then became financial controller and, more recently, finance director. Because I was so busy with work, it took a few years to write the novel. After ten years together, Rob and I finally got married in 2000. We had Conor in 2002 and he succeeded in turning our nice ordered life completely on its head. We’ve been in Sydney eight years now and have been back to Ireland every year for our ‘holidays’.
CC Chessel
Author of Wimple Towers. Born in Birmingham, now lives in Oxford with her husband and three young children. She took a degree in literature at London University in the early 1980s and has worked since as a businesswoman, filmmaker and teacher, based, most recently, with the BBC in Belfast and London.
Carol Coffey
Carol Coffey lives in Co. Wicklow. Her debut novel, The Butterfly State, is a gripping story of secrets, lies and family turmoil – it describes the life and events of Tess, an autistic girl convicted of the murder of her father. Her working background has been dominated by caring – she worked in Geriatric care and as a House Manager in a home for autism. Carol has studied in the field of Counselling, Education and Disability.
Alex Coleman
Alex Coleman is married and lives in Dublin with the mandatory pair of writer’s cats, who have asked not to be named.
Karina Colgan
Dublin journalist, Karina Colgan, is from south Dublin. Trust Betrayed is Karina’s fourth book and will be published by Poolbeg Press at the end of May 2009. Karina has always had a passion for writing and from a young age was known to carry a notebook and pen wherever she went! She has written extensively for national and international media and has been in journalism for seventeen years. In Hear my Silence she writes openly and honestly about a series of events that combined to send her to the deep, dark pits of chronic depression, culminating in a serious car crash which she was lucky to survive. Hear my Silence is the story of survival of the human spirit.
Don Conroy
Don Conroy is a man of many talents - writer, television presenter, environmentalist, naturalist and working artist who has had many exhibitions.. He is perhaps best known for his appearances as Uncle Don to Dustin and Socky on Den 2 but has also had a TV series of his own, Paint for Fun, from which came a successful book. He has a weekly slot on RTE television. Don studied life drawing at the National College of Art and Design and portraiture with the late George Collie, RHA. He then worked as a designer and illustrator for advertising agencies as well as in the theatre. A keen naturalist, he is actively involved in conservation, a member of Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Raptor Study Group and many other protection agencies. Don is the author of many books for children and young adults. Books published by Poolbeg are as follows: What the Owl Saw and The Fox’s Tale for the 4-7 age group. Christmas Stories, Rocky the Dinosaur, Mumbo and Jumbo’s Big Break, Seal of Approval, Elephant at the Door, The Bookworm Who Turned Over a New Leaf and The Anaconda From Drumcondra for the 7-10 age group. Vampire Journal and Vampire of St. Michan’s for the 8-12 age group. Rocky’s Fun Book, Cartoon Crazy, Wildlife Activity and Colouring Book and Travel Fun Book for children of all ages. He travels the country promoting his books and his conservation message and is in constant demand for school/library visits and literary events.
Tracy Culleton
Happiness for Tracy Culleton came in the form of a telephone call from Poolbeg publisher Paula Campbell to tell her that she was the winner of the Poolbeg ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. Run in association with RTE’s magazine show Open House the competition drew thousands of manuscripts from at home and abroad. It was a tough decision for the judges but they eventually arrived at a short list of five. Tracy emerged the unanimous choice with her book Looking Good.
Paula Clamp
Arts Officer for North Down Borough Council Paula Clamp talks about her debut novel and the inspiration behind it. “I got the idea for my debut novel Standing in a Hammock while I was sitting feeding my newborn baby in the early hours of the morning and looking out of the window at the comings and goings of the suburban world outside. My children are also the inspiration behind writing this novel. When I tell my 3 year old that if she works hard enough and gives it a go she can be whatever she wants when she grows up, I started to think that I better put my money where my mouth is. Of course, she wants to be either a cleaner in Tesco or a princess. You know, we all look out the windows of our houses and make massive assumptions about our neighbours. I thought it would be interesting to look at ordinary lives and the way that they are not always ordinary or how we think they are.” With a very busy life working, writing and running a home time is precious but when Paula wants to give the muse a well-earned rest she plays volleyball. She has played for the last 15 years and has enjoyed considerable success earning a place on the Northern Ireland women’s national team. For 5 years she was administrator of the Aspects Festival of Contemporary Irish Literature, Bangor. She has owned a 35-year-old VW Beetle for the past thirteen years and this beetle was the inspiration for Paula’s second critically acclaimed novel Beetle Mania. Many of the stories in Beetle Mania are based on real-life events drawn from the fraught relationship with her car; such as the time he broke down on the motorway during rush hour. Because of where the car ground to a halt, the Police had to close all four lanes of the M2 outbound from Belfast in order to get Merlin towed across to the hard shoulder on the other side. The AA man discovered a beetle (the small, six-legged-kind), firmly lodged in the fuel filter. 'Beetle stops beetle stops Motorway!' was the heading in the paper the next morning. For a long time, especially in the winter months, Merlin was threatened with the scrap yard until about eighteen months ago, when Merlin, once again, had one foot in the scrap-yard, Paula’s view of him changed forever. One evening, Paula got a message from her husband that her baby daughter had taken seriously ill and had been rushed to hospital. She was distraught and could only think of getting to the hospital as quickly as possible. She looked at her old Beetle...'It's up to you' she said. Not only did he get them to the hospital, but also he moved more effortlessly than ever before. In fact, he flew! When her baby was safely stabilised she went back to the casualty front door and her abandoned Beetle and made him a promise that she would never part with him.
Janet Cahill
Janet Cahill was born in 1968 in inner city Dublin. At times a difficult place to navigate, Janet survived the pitfalls that most embraced. Despite all the odds she travelled the world, settling in North America for seventeen years. Previous occupations include waitressing, childcare and cleaning, she has now found writing an outlet for her emotions. "I want to congratulate Janet on this remarkable book which gives a great insight into inner city Dublin life. While Janet's book is a personal memoir, it also encapsulates a strong sense of social history and she gives a vivid picture of what life was like growing up in Dublin in the mid 1970s. "I first entered political life in this era and I remember well the mass emigration, the huge rate of unemployment, poverty and lack of investment which characterised our capital city at that time. Dublin in the Rare Auld Times, it most definitely was not. Thankfully, we have all come a long way since then. "Though Janet's story catalogues the hard times experienced by many Dubliners, her story is also a story where her own bravery, love of life and her committed approach shine through. I particularly like her observation that "one thing we never had to fight for was the love, care, honesty and friendship we had growing up in the inner city." That sense of community and social solidarity is something that we can learn from and should still continue to value in more prosperous times.” Bertie Ahern, TD, Taoiseach.
Olive Collins

I was born and educated in Thurles, Tipperary. Like everybody from the country, I spend my Sunday’s during the hurling championship stuck to the Sunday Game. I played camogie, hockey and volleyball. After school I studied chemistry in college and worked as a lab tech for a few years.  I’ve had a few careers, banking, secretarial, marketing and advertising.  After returning from living in Israel, I fell into a job in media.  For the last 15 years, I’ve worked in advertising in print media and radio.  I travelled extensively and still enjoy exploring other cultures and countries, my favourite is Cuba.  

Caroline Busher

Caroline Busher graduated with a First-Class Honours MA in Creative Writing from UCD.  She grew up in a Victorian House in the North West of England. As an only child, Caroline spent her days reading books and writing fantastical stories. When she got older, she moved to the South East of Ireland. Her house is nestled beneath the Backstairs Mountains. But be warned if you ever go there, you must tread carefully. The mountains resemble sleeping giants and legend has it that the giants might wake up someday.


From the bestselling author of The Cinderella Reflex.

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It's time to stop waiting for prince charming and rescue yourself

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The Memory of Music tells the story of one Irish family spanning 100 turbulent years: 1916 to 2016

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