It all started with a seed of a story that mum of four Jeannie Curran started to type on her mobile phone.
Just over a year later, that “seed” has become a full length novel, which is climbing up the Amazon charts and has a host of 5 star reviews behind it.
‘Kisses’ - a very Derry love story is, according to the author herself, a “dream come true” for her and she is enjoying every second of promoting her dazzling debut in and around the city she loves so well.
“I just love it,” she said. “I get such a buzz, holding the finished book in my hands. It’s an incredible feeling.
“And the response so far has been totally overwhelming. I am delighted that people just seem to be taking the book to their hearts.”
A former employee of Sainsbury’s in Derry, Jeannie admits that she has been a lifelong read - although she would find it hard to pinpoint a favourite author.
“I don’t tend to read books depending on who wrote them, but instead on the blurb. If a story catches my eye, I’ll read it.”
Having never taken a creative writing class or considered a career in writing before Jeannie was as surprised as anyone when she started to write her first novel.
“For a while, characters, or wee lines here and there, kept popping into my head. I had my old phone and one day I just decided to write down what I was thinking in a memo on my phone - text speak and all.
“Then I wrote another memo, and another. I think in the end I had about 80 saved on my phone, and it just seemed to start growing into a book.”
E-mailing her memos to her husband, Declan, she asked him to print them out and - once she edited out the text speak - she found the bones of a book she knew was going places.
“I loved losing myself in my imaginary world,” Jeannie said. “I could easily find that a couple of hours had passed, or I would get up in the night and write when it was nice and quiet and I couldn’t get the story out of head.”
She took to keeping notebooks on her bedside table to scribble ideas on during the night - and soon she felt ready to show the beginnings of her book to her sister, Lisa Glenn - also a fervent reader.
“I knew Lisa would be honest with me and she came back and told me she loved it. She was only annoyed as she had to read it in snippets as it wasn’t finished yet!”
With Lisa by her side, offering her encouragement and constructive criticism when needed, Jeannie completed her novel and then she started to think about showing it to other people.
“I was half way through editing it, and I thought ‘This is just the stuff I like to read’. It was a good enough standard, so with Declan’s encouragement and Lisa’s support I started looking at getting it published.”
Having submitted to a sister company of Penguin Randomhouse, Jeannie was contacted by editor Rogie Pearse who offered to support her with an author led publication.
“They edited and prepared the book for publication and we chose a photo of the Peace Bridge in Derry, by photographer Julian Abel for the cover.”
And of course, being a very proud Derry woman, the book is set in her beloved home city and readers will find themselves recognising local turns of phrases and locations.
‘Kisses’ tells the story of Sally and Mal, friends through school who finally go on their first date at the end of 5th year. They become inseparable but a few months later Mal announces he is moving to Spain.
Of course he promises to keep in touch but life gets in the way - until ten years later when he returns to the Derry and the story continues.
“It was so important to me to do the people of Derry proud and to do Derry justice. I’m very passionate about that and I wanted to set the story right here in the city.”
The book is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format. It will be stocked in local shops soon.
Meanwhile Jeannie is not resting on her laurels - she is already working on her second novel ‘Those Blues’ which is set in Dublin.
“It’s my time - my time to myself to write,” she said, which is no mean feat. As the mother to four children: Chloe (19), Oran (8), Aodhan (5) and Darragh (3), it’s not always easy to get some quiet time but then again, sometimes when the writing bug hits, she just makes time.
“It’s just exhilarating, and I love it,” she said.
‘Kisses’, which Jeannie has dedicated to her late parents - who gave her a childhood full of happy memories - is published by Xlibris and is available now.