City Girl by Patrica Scanlan
I just can’t believe that my first novel, City Girl was published 30 years ago. It seems like a lifetime ago. Did I ever think, that I would become a world wide, best selling author, selling millions of copies of my books, that New Year’ Eve when I wrote a letter to a publisher telling him that if he published my first novel, City Girl, he would become a millionaire!
I had read in all the books that gave advice about getting published, that you needed to grab publisher’s attention with your opening line, when pitching your novel. In 1989 publishers still accepted ‘unsolicited’ submissions. You didn’t need an agent.
I had written City Girl, in response to a competition in Cosmopolitan Magazine. The prize? A word processor. And the winner would ‘See Your Novel in Print.’
I had been writing on a little portable Silver Reed typewriter, and I thought a word processor sounded like a great idea.
I decided to write about three modern Irish women. Maeve Binchy our beloved and most famous author was writing hugely successful novels about women’s lives in the fifties and sixties, but no one in Ireland was writing popular fiction about women in the late eighties.
I wrote about three very different women, Devlin, Caroline and Maggie who meet and become firm friends. Young women who were living and working in Dublin, which was changing rapidly, to become the vibrant, thriving cosmopolitan city, it now is. I wrote about their struggles, with family, husbands, and careers. Births, deaths, marriages. I wrote about the everyday universal experience that women the world over identify with. The background to the tapestry of my women’s lives was the enduring comfort and joy of their friendship. Devlin, Caroline and Maggie knew the ups and downs of each other, the ins and outs of each other. They laughed and cried together, these city girls, who shared so much.
The publisher liked my letter. The editor wanted to see the whole manuscript: a week later I signed a contract and got the princely advance of £150.
City Girl was published a year later in 1990. It sold twelve thousand copies and went out of print in the first week, and went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies all over the world as readers took my girls to their hearts, and identified with them and their lives.
My life changed completely. I was doing TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I was travelling the country doing massive signing sessions. Women were calling their babies, Devlin, after my heroine. City Girl was launched in the Groucho Club in London, and I travelled around the UK on a gruelling publicity tour. It was a hectic, exhilarating, and exhausting time, during which I also had to hold down my day job as well as write another novel.
I’ve written twenty novels since City Girl, and can’t believe the time has sped by so quickly. I’m frequently asked will I write another book to bring the fans up to date with my women’s lives. After thirty years, I think it’s time. I’d very much like to know how life has treated Devlin, Caroline and Maggie.