Belfast Girls author Gerry McCullough

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

Gerry McCullough, born and brought up in North Belfast, is an award winning short story writer, with a distinguished reputation. She has had around sixty short stories published, broadcast, or collected in anthologies. In 2005 her story Primroses won the Cuirt Award (Galway Arts Festival) and she has won, been short listed, and been commended in a number of other literary competitions since.

Gerry lives in Conlig just outside Bangor. She is married to singer-songwriter, writer and radio presenter Raymond McCullough, and has four children.

Gerry’s first novel, Belfast Girls, published by Precious Oil Publications, is a #1 bestseller on paid UK Kindle. Danger Danger, her second Irish romantic thriller, is fast catching up on Belfast Girls, as is her collection of 12 Irish short  stories, The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus. Her new book Angel in Flight, featuring Angel Murphy, the new Lara Croft, described as ‘a feisty wee Belfast girl’, was published in June 2012. Gerry’s plan is that this new book will be the first of a series about Angel, the strong-minded Belfast Girl.

Now Precious Oil Publications has published a new venture – a YA Time Travel adventure, Lady Molly & The Snapper.  This is a very different field for Gerry, who hopes that a younger audience will enjoy her writing just as much.

Being a Writer.

The other day, as I travelled on a bus to Bangor to do some shopping, I noticed a man sitting in front of me reading something on his Kindle. Presently a woman got on. She apparently knew him, for she sat down beside him and they started chatting.

‘What’re you reading?’ she asked after a few minutes.

‘Oh, it’s a book called Belfast Girls,’ he said. ‘By a local writer. You should read it, it’s very good.’

It isn’t the first time I’ve met someone who has recognised me as the author of Belfast Girls or has heard of the book. But it’s still an enormous thrill.

Not many years ago, the idea of someone reading a Kindle on the bus would have been unheard of. When Belfast Girls first came out, only two years ago, my family and friends expected it to appear in the local bookshops. They one and all, when buying it from Amazon, bought the paperback version. They had just about heard of Kindle.

But at a family gathering this past Christmas, nearly everyone in the room now had a Kindle and used it regularly. Moreover, most of them, when buying my second, third, fourth and fifth books, had at some point moved from paperback to Kindle, and had recommended the eBook version to many of their friends. How quickly life moves on!

I remember, about a dozen or more years ago, no one had a mobile phone. It was a pretty unheard of thing. But now, and for some time, those who don’t have one are the exceptions. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a landline too. In the same way, a lot of people are now buying on Kindle –­ but they still buy paperbacks from time to time as well!

When I was first offered a publishing contract (not for Belfast Girls, but for a comic fantasy not yet published) the publisher intended to use the new Print On Demand system and sell through the Internet. I was worried and uncertain. How would it work?

In the end, I accepted the offer, but after six months, spent by me in hours of editing in line with this publisher’s suggestions, the agreement finally broke down. ‘Irreconcilable differences,’ I joked in explanation to those who asked. On the whole I was glad – the worries hadn’t gone away.

But when, a year or so later, Night Publishing, a small English Publishing House, offered to publish Belfast Girls, using Print On Demand and selling on the Internet, my views had changed dramatically. This was the year during which eBooks really began to take off. I hadn’t really understood, at that point. I still expected to sell mainly paperbacks. But by the end of the first year Belfast Girls had sold over 3,000 books, and the vast majority of these sales were eBooks. Three months later the book began to sell thousands per month, instead of per year. By this time I was fully aware of the eBook revolution!

By then I’d moved from Night Publishing for my second book, Danger Danger, and for my book of short stories, The Seanachie, to my husband’s newly set up publishing company, Precious Oil Publications, and in July of that year (2012) I transferred Belfast Girls to him as well. Shortly after this my next full length book, Angel in Flight: An Angel Murphy Thriller, came out, to be followed by my YA Time Travel Adventure, Lady Molly & The Snapper. Currently I’m working on the second Angel book (the plan is that this should be a series) to be called Angel in Belfast.

I’ve said, in my previous interview for this site, that I always wanted to be a writer. Included in that dream, I’ll now confess, was the expectation of making a lot of money and being recognised in the street.

Well, I’m a writer now, and neither of those things has exactly happened yet.

But the money is starting to come in – although in smaller amounts than I’d like!

And I saw a stranger on the bus reading and enjoying my first book!

It may not be the sort of fame and success that I’d dreamt of.

But, hey, it’s nice all the same! It’ll do me!

Links to my books.

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