Frances always believed that a writing career was unrealistic, and after studying film at college, she worked in advertising, and then was employed by an NGO as a Manager of Social Media.
Meanwhile, she wrote two short stories, both of which were shortlisted: one for the RTE Francis McManus award and the other for a Penguin Ireland competition.
“I took that as a green light. When I was 33, I kept my job, but took a part time MA in Oxford. I flew over and back ten or eleven times. It was very intensive. There were two strands: creative and literary criticism. It opened up a whole new world.”
During the MA Frances completed the first 25,000 words of her debut.
“I then left work, and locked myself in a room for two years to complete it. If I hadn’t given it a go, I would never have been able to rest easy.”
Who is Frances Macken?
Date of birth: 1982 in Claremorris, Co Mayo.
Education: Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, BA in Film and TV production. Oxford University, MA Creative Writing.
Home: Raheny, Co Dublin
Family: Husband Sean, and daughter Francesca, (6 months.)
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
In Another Life: “I still have an aspiration towards film making, but I’m not sure if my ego is resilient enough.”
Favourite Writers: Stephen King; Patricia Highsmith; Ann Rule; Donna Tartt; Lionel Shriver.
Second Novel: Working title, Try to be Happy Without me. “It’s on the theme of infatuation.”
Top Tip: “Seek out the right, expert, readers. Feedback from the wrong people is not always valuable. It can make you delusional or depressed.”
Website: www.francesmacken.com Twitter: @francesmacken
The Debut: You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here. Oneworld Publications: €15.99. Kindle: €7.23.
Living in a small Irish town, Katie has two friends: there’s Evelyn, the undisputed leader and the rather hapless Maeve. When Pamela Cooney arrives from Dublin, upsetting the balance of power, everything changes.
“I love it when readers say I have captured the unyielding desire to create – which can be a huge burden.”
The Verdict: A fresh, clever look at the intricacies and jealousies of female friendship. This debut reads like a modern, mysterious version of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 11th April
© Sue J Leonard. 2020.