Derry’s Niamh Hargan launches debut novel ‘Twelve Days in May’

Derry woman Niamh Hargan has always dreamed of writing a book and wanted her debut to be ‘for smart women who are knackered’.

It’s safe to say she has achieved that with ‘Twelve Days in May,’ a witty and fresh ‘romcom’ that is creating quite the buzz in the literary world.

Niamh hails from Culmore and is currently based in Edinburgh, where she works as an entertainment lawyer.

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It’s a job she really loves and one which is also very busy.

Niamh Hargan.

“As part of the job, I review films and shows before they go on say, Netflix or cinema or TV and assess the content for things like defamation or emotional distress and privacy.

“It means you get to watch different things, that you might not choose to watch and also have a bit of insight into how those things work.”

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As part of her job as an entertainment lawyer, Niamh has attended the Cannes Film Festival, which proves to be the setting for ‘Twelve Days in May’.

The central character in the book is Lizzy Munro, who is working at the festival, in a job that ‘involves a lot more admin than red-carpet glamour’.

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There, Ciaran (a good Donegal man) is the man everyone is talking about: ‘heartthrob of the moment and director of the most romantic movie of the year’.

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As the tagline for the book states: ‘What nobody knows is that 12 years ago, they were best friends... and they haven’t spoken since. But when Ciaran’s film runs into trouble, there’s only one person he can turn to. Is twelve days enough to save not only Ciaran’s film, but also the spark he and Lizzy once shared?’

An intriguing plot and one that came to Niamh during Covid 19 lockdown,a time when she decided to finally write the book she had always wanted to.

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“I always wanted to write one, but in that I assumed everyone in life wanted to write a book. It’s only recently that I learned that some people don’t want to and they aren’t just saying it!

“I thought it was a pretty standard goal along the lines of buying a house or going to New York at Christmas. Then, with Covid, I was walking five miles a day and had plenty of extra time. It was around the July that I thought: ‘If I had started in March, I could have had a book written by now’. I now realise it takes a lot longer than that. But I decided to crack on.”

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Niamh decided to base the novel in Cannes and knew she did not want Lizzy to be on the ‘glamourous’ side of attending Cannes, as ‘the vast majority of people I met there are in jeans, working’.

“I didn’t want her to have my job and I didn’t want her to be Irish. I wanted to create a bit of distance from self and then, it just took shape as I started to write it.”

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Niamh also enrolled in a course that was linked to the literary agency Curtis Brown. She ended up with a few literary agents vying to represent her and went with Shiela Crowley at Curtis Brown.

She met with a number of publishers before signing with Harper Collins to launch ‘Twelve Days in May’. It was a two-book deal and Niamh is currently working on her second. She is delighted with the success so far and modestly says how it still ‘doesn’t feel real.’ But, she is excited to hear what readers think.

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“I wanted it to be a book for smart women who are knackered. A light read. Life is hard, work is hard, we are making decisions that matter, coming home and you might have a child or a parent who needs you; you have to think about what to make for dinner every single, solitary day and that’s a lot. But, sometimes, at the end of that, you don’t want something that’s silly or insubstantial or treats you like you’re silly or insubstantial. But, you want it to be comforting and bouyant and light. It’s been lovely to hear from people who have been reading it.”

Niamh feels proud to be representing Derry in Edinburgh and said there is a real recognition there of the city’s culture and talent. She visits home regularly and is also once again off to Cannes later this month.

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‘Twelve Days in May’ by Niamh Hargan is out now in local bookshops and online.