When I came to the decision to celebrate Irish Fiction, and the idea of #IrishFictionFortnight was becoming a reality, I went straight to twitter as a form of research. I put out some feelers, and the response was amazingly positive. It seems my gut feelings were correct. Most book lovers in Ireland, UK, Europe, and beyond, had plenty of Irish fiction on their bookshelves and embedded in their memories. When I asked what readers had cut their teeth on, as adults, there were two main names that kept popping up. Patricia Scanlan and Marian Keyes. Both writers were instrumental in the introduction to popular women's fiction in the 1990s and still remain bestsellers to this day.
However, the biggest recurring tweet, all through #IrishFictionFortnight, was about Patricia Scanlan's City Girl and the iconic character, Devlin. She was young and someone that Irish women could identify with. Her caterpillar-to-butterfly story was the beginning of a new era in fiction. 'Chick-Lit' may be a phrase that is subject to some battering in this new millennium, but for anyone over thirty, we adored it. We had escaped from the recession of the 1980s, had grown up being forced to read Peig and Dickins in secondary school, had no access to internet, and Woman's Own was about as racy as things got. City Girl was therefore like the equivalent of Sex and the City. Racy, fun and about independent women. It turned our heads and made us view Irish fiction with a new open mind. There were sequels, City Woman and City Lives, and they became immediate bestsellers upon their release. I remember buying Apartment 3B, Mirror, Mirror and Finishing Touches.....the books just kept coming, and I was filling my bookshelves.
The readership then hit an age where we were strapped for time..... day jobs, weddings, newborn babies and the sleepless nights. Exhaustion took over and the our time to read books was taking a hit. But, through it all, Patricia Scanlan kept writing, kept her reputation as a leading lady of Irish Fiction, and we all grew up. Now she is influencing a new generation (One girl on Twitter says she was born after City Girl was published, but still adores it) and her words remain, within their bindings, on bookshelves all over the world. She has a new novel out on 12th March 2015, called A Time For Friends, and when I posted a picture of my advance reading copy online, the response was uplifting. All us book lovers are excited for any new title from a favourite author, but, a new Patricia Scanlan means more.....almost like a relation announcing an upcoming wedding. It's something to look forward to. Even if you were not alive when Devlin was created!
Big Thanks to Patricia, and Simon & Schuster, for the two giveaway books for #IrishFictionFortnight. Open INT, just enter via rafflecopter link below...