Newry mum launches debut Mills & Boon novel

March 6, 2017

Fledgling Newry author Catherine Tinley launched her debut novel in Eason’s in the Buttercrane Centre on Saturday.  The mother-of-three has just signed a two-book deal with famous publishing house Harlequin Mills & Boon and Saturday saw the official launch of her first book, “Waltzing with the Earl.” Pupils from the Abbey Grammar and Sacred Heart Grammar schools performed a specially written scene from the book on the day, bringing the Jane Austen-inspired story to life for onlookers.

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of the official launch, the 50 year old writer revealed her delight at having her very first novel published by such prestigious publishers – owned by one of the biggest publishing houses in the world, Harper Collins. Her achievement is all the more incredible considering that the book was the first manuscript Catherine had ever submitted to publishers.

“It’s so difficult to get picked up by Mills & Boon,” she said.

“They receive thousands of manuscripts every year so to even get a full read was a major achievement, never mind a letter to say they were interested, never mind getting the call to say they loved it and wanted to give me a two book contract! I still can’t quite believe I’m now a published writer – it certainly is a great feeling.”

The up-and-coming author says writing has always been a hobby but admits she rarely showed anyone her work.

“Writing was always something I’ve done personally. It was something I did to relax but when I finished a full length novel in 2014, a Regency  romance which came together really well and took on a momentum of its own, I decided to show my husband and two of my close friends.  They raved about it and encouraged me to send it to publishers.  So for the first time ever sending anything to a publisher,  it’s amazing to get picked up.”

The romantic novel – which has already featured on the top ten Harlequin Historical Best Sellers list – is inspired by Catherine’s love of  Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer who both wrote in the same period. Re-reading one of her Heyer favourites sparked the idea to write a story set in that world.

“I had to do a lot of historical research in order to make the story accurate so I now know stuff like the price of candles in 1814,” joked Catherine, who added that she spent many months researching the social etiquette of the time.

“The story came out of a what if?” she said.

“Society was strict and  tough on women in that period. Men controlled every aspect of women’s lives basically. You couldn’t own property, you were pushed into marriage because of property and money issues.

“I was always interested in how wonderful women managed, because women then were as smart and compassionate and intuitive as women are now so I wanted to explore the idea of what if a  young woman who had already met someone she loves, needed to marry for money instead? What happens to the emotions in that situation and how do they work it out? Even when society’s rules are against them, women have always managed to use their skills, empathy, communication and intelligence to find ways through difficult situations as best they can.  So there is an interesting premise to the book but it can also be read as a nice love story too. I think fiction can play a part in challenging thinking and even something that looks as fluffy as a Mills & Boon- but there’s actually a lot goes into it.”

Catherine is busy working on the second book now, a stand alone story about the brother of the hero in book one, and she hopes to find an international audience in the future. She will be promoting her book at various literary events taking place across Northern Ireland in the weeks ahead and, as part of Women Aloud NI, a supportive collective of local women writers, she is set to take place in a unique Readathon event this Saturday (11th March) for International Women’s Day.  The event, in partnership with the Irish Writers’ Centre, will see readings done on the Newry to Dublin Enterprise train on Saturday morning, before she takes part in a panel discussion later that day.

Meanwhile, Waltzing with the Earl by Catherine Tinley, Mills & Boon, is available to pre-order on Amazon now, priced £4.99.