Monday 22 January 2018

Big dream comes through for super new author Joan

Nicola Donnelly

Having spent many years starting novels but never completing them, award-winning journalist Joan Brady has finally cracked the fiction market as her first novel 'The Cinderella Reflex' has been published.

Joan, who lives in Portmarnock, told the Fingal Independent her 'big dream has finally come true,' becoming a published author and ticking off one of the many achievements on her Bucket List.

And since her first book has now reached book shelves, Joan has already completed her second book 'Re-inventing Suzanne' which is at the proof stage and due to be released in the summer.

Currently working on her third book, Joan explained how a course called 'Finish Your Book' at the Irish Writer's Centre, finally helped her to accomplish her dream.

'I had started to write lot of books down through the years but I never got around to finish them,' said Joan, who has always wanted to write fiction.

'I'd start them with great guns, but they'd never get finished. I'd have an idea, start writing but then I'd go down cul-de-sacs.

'I was always doing Fiction writing courses but what changed for me was the 'Finish Your Book' course and that completely changed things for me. I met other people at the group who wanted to finish their books and they were full of determination to get them finished. So that made me think if they can do it then so can I.'

While attending the writing group, Joan made new friends and they are all now in their own Writing Group, helping each other along.

During the course, Joan learnt to add a discipline of writing 2,000 new words a week to her work.

'This helped stop me going back over what I had already written to try and perfect it. I was always trying to get the perfect first three chapters and apparently this is a big rookie mistake when writing fiction that I didn't know at the time.'

Joan, who is originally from Cabra but has been living in Portmarnock for a long time with her husband Dave O'Connor and daughter Jane (34), who is newly married, set her book 'The Cinderella Reflex', published by Poolbeg, within the media world - as that's a world she knows about.

Joan worked as a features writer for many years with Independent News & Media group before later working as a radio producer in RTE, where she worked on current affairs and lifestyle programmes, including the Gay Byrne Show, Today with Pat Kenny, Liveline, Drivetime and Late Debate.

Already receiving great reviews such as it being a 'Funny, fast-paced and light as a breeze, this is an ideal beach read,' to 'Unusually the reader actually feels sympathy for the anti-heroine' and 'hard to put down novel,' 'The Cinderella Reflex' is set in a local radio station in a fictional Irish village.

The main characters are Tess and her bad boss Helene and it's about their struggles to make sense of their jobs and their lives.

'Tess is 30 when we meet her and she spent her 20s floating around freelancing as a journalist and travelling,' explained Joan.

'Her milestone birthday sends her into a panic and she feels she has to get her foot on the career ladder and all her friends are getting engaged or having babies or getting promotions. She's a bit of a late starter while Helene is an opposite. She is very career orientated and she is a decade older but also facing a milestone birthday.

'She's going to be 40 so that's causing her to question her life and the choices she's made. She's in a difficult relationship that's not going the way she wants it and then the radio station is taking over and everyone is scrambling to keep their jobs and gets more tense than ever,' said Joan.

Joan explained both women, who have inner five year olds who stubbornly believe that one day their Prince will come along, find out the men in their lives are too busy looking after themselves to worry about staging elaborate rescues for their damsels in distress.

'When things are wrong for them they look to the men in their lives for solutions - but they are all involved in the radio centre too, trying to save their own skin.

So they have to figure things out for themselves and then find out they are the only ones who can do that,' she said.

'When I started working in journalism I was always writing about how women had to juggle work, family and romance. Today I see my daughter and my friends' daughters struggling with the same dilemmas. It's interesting that three decades later, there has been no change in that. I started to wonder whether it's because women still subconsciously believe, like Tess and Helene, in the myth of Prince Charming. That's where I got the idea for The Cinderella Reflex.'

She said she really enjoyed writing her first novel and seeing it finally published.

'It was a great fun to write and a big dream come true for me and a great achievement,' said Joan. But, she said, it was bitter-sweet as the book is dedicated to her sister Vera, who passed away last year.

'The book was always going to be dedicated to Vera as when I was a child, she got me interested in writing. I was in a panic one day with my homework and she said all I have to do to get good marks in English is to make things up! So saying that to me opened up a whole new world to me.'

The Cinderella Reflex is on sale now in all good book stores.

Fingal Independent

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