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, and around thirty poems published in various magazines. 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,radio presenter and publisher 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. Angel in Flight: the First Angel Murphy Thriller, featuring Angel Murphy, the new Lara Croft, described as ‘a strong minded Belfast girl’, was published last year. Angel in Belfast, the second Angel Murphy thriller, was published at the end of June 2013
What inspires you to write?
It’s hard to say. I’ve been writing since I was 7 or 8. I’ve always loved reading, and because of that, I’ve wanted to write the sort of stuff I enjoy. So I’ve been copying my favourite writers for years. It takes a while before your writing becomes actually original!
I grew up in a home where everyone enjoyed reading – my mother, my father, and my three sisters. My older sister took to me to the library when I was 8, and arranged for me to join it. I became an ardent reader, and therefore a writer. At my primary school, it happened that I was put into a ‘house’ called Charlotte, after Charlotte Bronte, and the headmistress, in telling us about the various houses, said, ‘Not everyone in ‘Charlotte’ house will be a wonderful writer – but perhaps some of you will!’ That was a definite spark. I remember thinking, “Why shouldn’t I be one?’
Tell us about your writing process.
I’ve tried more than once to work from an outline, but it just isn’t for me. When I’m flowing, I think about my story while washing dishes, driving, or at all sorts of times. I find a scene forming in my head, with the conversation of the characters. Then when I sit down to write I already have a good idea of what’s coming. I aim to write at least 1,000 words a day, beginning by reading through and correcting the work done on the previous day – this gets me back into the story, and I find I can write on, usually something which I’ve already thought out. But often I find new ideas coming to me as I write, and the story moving in a direction I hadn’t foreseen. I find it easy to write about characters. Plots are the hard part – a plot actually requires a lot of thought and hard work to make sure it comes out smoothly.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to them, but I do imagine scenes and thin k up what they would say. I try to make sure my characters have distinctive voices. They are all different, after all, so they shouldn’t sound like copies of each other. The individual voice is one of the main things which brings a character to life.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be yourself – write about what you know, but don’t hesitate to make it more exciting than your normal life. And don’t give up – it’s hard to get published. Nowadays, you can go for self-publishing instead – but then it’s hard to get your work visible – you’ll need to keep working at it! Do it! You’ll get there in the end!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For years I tried to get one of the ‘big six’ publishers interested in my work. But althoughI eventually had an agent, and although some publishers seemed to like my writing, I still didn’t get that dream publishing deal. I was signed up by one new publishing house, but the agreement fell through. Then a small publisher, Night Publishing, offered me a contract, in July 2010, for my first book, Belfast Girls. I was over the moon. At that time I had hardly heard of eBooks, and was surprised to find that although Belfast Girls certainly sold in paperback, its real success was in the eBook format. In April 2012, Belfast Girls had climbed up into the overall top 100 bestsellers on Amazon UK, and was #1 in Women’s Literary Fiction and Contemporary Romance. I went on to have my second book, Danger Danger published, and it also reached the overall top 100. Then came The Seanachie, collection of short stories, Lady Molly & The Snapper,a children’s book, and my two thrillers in the Angel Murphy series, Angel in Flight and Angel in Belfast. I’ve sold well over thirty thousand books by now, and the great thing about eBooks is that they go on selling – they don’t disappear from the ‘shelves’ to make way for others!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As more and more people buy Kindles or other ebook readers, I think it’s clear that the eBook market is going to be a really big player. That doesn’t mean that paperbacks will disappear. Many people, including me, still like to read a paperback. But the kindle is so convenient for travel, hospital, or a hundred other occasions when you don’t want to carry several b
ooks around with you, but you want the option of reading more than one book. My suitcase at holiday time used to be crammed with paperbacks which I read as I lay in the sun. It made it very heavy! Now I just bring my kindle.
What genres do you write?
Contemporary Romance, Thrillers, Literary books.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
Author Home Page Link