As part of our article on International Women’s Day
Mullingar best-selling author Patricia Gibney, who has hit the two million book mark, reveals that while her 11th book is about to be released, she is under contract to write four more. “I’ll be writing in my seventies,” she joked in an interview with the Westmeath Examiner.
The Examiner caught up with Patricia as news of the incredible milestone broke last Tuesday, at the community center in the parish of Mullingar during an event to mark International Women’s Day. She confessed to being stunned to learn that her books had sold two million copies.
It’s been five years since her first book came out and since then she’s published 10 more as the Detective Lottie Parker series continues to grow in popularity.
When asked why the series was so well received, Patricia said she thought it was because Lottie was a character a lot of people could relate to.
“It’s important to have a strong, flawed main character and I think a lot of people relate to her daily struggles,” Patricia said. She added that it’s also important to write a story that keeps the reader guessing until the end.
When asked what was in store for Lottie Parker, Patricia said life was getting a little easier for her heroine, but there were still obstacles in her way.
Patricia has always loved crime mysteries and now enjoys finding new writers, especially those doing a series of books.
Addressing the rally organized by the Women’s Community Project in Mullingar, Patricia recalled how the Irish Times dubbed her ‘the best-selling author no one had heard of’ when her first book was published.
This book, The Missing Ones, sold 100,000 copies in the first month and 750,000 over the next five years. It was a bestseller in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
Patricia told the audience how her husband, Aidan, was diagnosed with cancer in February 2009 and died three months later. They had three teenage children and the hardest thing they ever had to do was sit them down and say “daddy is going to die”.
She was working with Westmeath County Council at the time. The ban on women working in the civil service after marriage had just been lifted before she entered, and it was mostly men who were promoted, but Patricia was “relentless” and she worked her way up. rungs.
When Aidan died, however, she found it difficult to work and after a year she “totally broke down” and had to quit.
She spoke of the depression grief produced and the dark days when getting out of bed was a struggle. She worked on autopilot to feed children and get them to school or college.
During this time, Patricia rekindled her creative spirit and began to write and paint. Every morning, before getting out of bed, she would fill three pages with her feelings, and that helped her. Then she drew, painted and wrote. From there came Spring Sprong Sally, an illustrated children’s book that she self-published.
Patricia praised local author, Dolores Keaveney, who has self-published 17 books, saying self-publishing isn’t easy and that’s the hurdle Patricia has fallen because she couldn’t handle the business side.
Then she decided to write a crime book and developed Lottie Parker and her family, living in Ragmullin, which Patricia says is loosely based on Mullingar. “Writing The Missing Ones gave me something to focus on and took me five years to write,” she said. She started entering short story contests and when she won one she started to believe that maybe she could write.
She needed a publisher, but first she had to find an agent. She lit a candle and sent her manuscript for review. When it came back with 15 pages of changes it was like being told your child is ugly, she says – although she now knows the changes were okay and the book needed 12 months of work additional.
Ger Nichol, a literary agent, loved the book and Patricia signed with her as her agent, a partnership that still thrives.
Ger sent the book to several publishers, and then the rejections started coming in.
Patricia remembers being upset at first, but less upset when she found out that JK Rowling had received over 100 rejections before it was published.
When her first book was published, she was approached to write four more. As there were no advance payments she had nothing to lose, if the books failed she would not have to repay any advances.
When Patricia was writing her first book, it was tough, and she enrolled in writing classes to hone her skills, but also to network with other like-minded people.
She now finds that the writing part is easy, it’s the editing that is hard. She is currently editing volume 11 and it is due out in June.
Life and the world she lives in are Patricia’s inspiration for her books. “I’ve reinvented myself since Aidan died. I focus on my other self. I set goals and if I don’t achieve them, I set new goals,” she said.
Closing her remarks at the International Women’s Day event, Patricia quoted Walt Disney and said, “‘If you don’t have a dream, how can you achieve a dream?'” before read an excerpt from his latest book, Buried Angels.
In closing, she said she hoped she could inspire some of the people gathered to pick up their pens or laptops and write.