Meet Gabrielle Mullarkey
Gabrielle, a journalist by profession, also writes short stories regularly for women’s weeklies, and facilitates creative writing for wellbeing and therapeutic purposes.
Her contemporary romance novels, Hush Hush and A Tale of Two Sisters, were originally published by Town House & Country House/Simon & Schuster respectively.
Corazon Books republished Hush Hush as an e-book in November 2014, with A Tale of Two Sisters to follow in 2015.
In Hush Hush, widowed Angela has retreated into her shell, reluctant to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. Between them, her bossy mum and her best friend persuade her to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.
Back home, Angela resolves to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and an ex-wife who’s less ‘ex’ than Angela expected.
But there’s a deeper reason for Angela’s acute self-doubt, a trauma in her past that threatens to cloud any chance of future happiness – and she’s not the only one with something to hide.
Thanks for sharing the details of your novels with me, Gabrielle. ‘Hush Hush’ sounds like an intriguing read. Can you tell me what inspired you to write the book?
I had been writing short stories for years alongside my day job in London working on women’s magazines (Take a Break, Chat), when I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Ireland, where my boyfriend lived. We’d been having a long-distance romance for five years, so something had to give! My plan was to work from home as a freelancer and send my articles and stories back to my contacts in the UK. I was lucky that it worked out as well as it did, because I was very naive about the whole thing! Upshot was, I suddenly found I also had the time to start working on a novel. At that point, it was very much ‘a’ rather than ‘the’ novel, as I had several ideas kicking about in my head but no grand plan.
So do you prefer to simply go with the flow and see where the story takes you?
To a certain extent, yes, because if you are too determined to force your characters down certain paths to suit a pre-ordained plot, they won’t develop organically. You have to believe they would choose a certain course of action. That said, I sketch out a rough plot in advance, so I have a general idea where I’m headed, and I also redraft the chapters regularly, as a better idea can often sneak up on me when I’m cleaning the sink or waiting for a train!
I started to write about a second-generation Irishwoman because that’s what I am, and placed her in the offices of a women’s magazine, because it was an environment I knew well. It was also about a woman trying to start afresh – in Angela’s case, after bereavement – and find her place in a rapidly moving world full of opportunities, but also traps for the unwary.
I’d like to ask a question about your leading man, the rugged Irishman, Conor. He sounds really interesting 🙂 Did you know from the outset that he was going to have so much baggage or did the ex-wife and ‘child from hell’ come to you as your story progressed?
It felt important that it wasn’t only Angela who had complicating factors in her life (a love-hate relationship with her mother, guilt about her husband’s death). So I decided from the off to make Conor a proactive force in his own right, his ruggedness masking a vulnerability that allows him to be all too easily manipulated by his ex-wife, Kate. At the same time, by making him a single dad, I could show another facet to his personality – and through his sarky, back-and-forth dialogue with his son Shane, we also get to see that the ‘child from hell’ is a lot more three-D than Angela’s initial appraisal.
What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received about the book?
That a key plot twist came as a total surprise but was also wholly believable – I find that many readers love a surprising plot development, but it’s great if they feel that it arises from the plot (as intended!) rather than being tacked on for the sake of it.
And lastly, back to that rugged Irishman; in the film version of your book, who would you see playing Conor?
As Conor is a redhead, Eric Stoltz would be perfect. I’ve always had a thing for Eric the Red!
Thanks for joining me on my website, Gabrielle. It’s been lovely to chat with you.