Sunday 25 February 2018

Maria's 'Last Lost Girl'

John Manning

Swords native, Maria Hoey has realised a lifelong dream with the publication this July of her debut novel, The Last Lost Girl published by Poolbeg Press under their 'Crimson imprint - Fiction with an Edge' label.

Maria has also signed a three-book deal with Poolbeg with her second novel due for publication in July 2018.

Maria has been writing since she was about eight years old and as a teenager attending St Joseph's secondary school in Rush, could often be seen on the 33 bus writing her school mates' English essays in return for them doing her maths homework.

She has since had a number of short stories and poetry published in various magazines but says that, always at the back of her mind, the dream was there to write a book and have it published.

In 1997 Maria won first prize in the Swords Festival Short Story Competition which gave her confidence a boost. She went on to have a short story win runner-up in the Mslexia International Short Story Competition and was subsequently short-listed for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award.

The Last Lost Girl tells the story of fifteen-year-old Festival Queen, Lilly Brennan, who goes missing from her Fingal home during the hot Irish summer of 1976. Many years later, Lilly's younger sister Jacqueline, haunted by the event sets out to solve the mystery of her sister's fate for once and all.

The book is inspired by Maria's fascination with the story of real-life missing women in Ireland and how their families try to reconcile themselves with the horror of not knowing what has happened to a loved one and go on living with that uncertainty. She chose to set the earlier part of the novel in the summer of 1976 because she says she remembers so well what it was like to be a teenager that summer - the heat and the smells and the music.

Maria admits that she had the Swords Fingallians festival and the carnival and marquee dances which went it, very much in mind as she was writing. As a result the book has a nostalgic feel to it. But it also has a dark underbelly.

The book is available from July 6.

Fingal Independent

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