As a child Michelle wanted to be an artist and live in her parent’s attic, but she failed to get into art college. A child of the troubles, Michelle won quite a few short story and poetry awards as a teenager, so she switched her allegiance to English.
After her MA, Michelle worked in London as a financial copywriter, but she contracted auto Immune encephalitis, ending up unable to walk or talk.
“I lived at home for a year, then moved to Dublin and got rehab jobs as my gateway back to work.”
In 2002, Michelle moved to Northern Ireland, working in technology for the BBC, then as a freelance. She married in Paris, living there for three months before moving back to London in 2010.
“Life was all about tech. I was working on my own start-up apps, and trying to get buzz going.”
Moving to Dublin in 2016; Michelle won more short story awards, and found her publisher at the Irish Writer’s Centre Novel Fair.
Who is Michelle Gallen?
Date of birth: 1975 In Tyrone.
Education: St Eugene’s in Castlederg. “My Dad was the headmaster.” Saint Colman’s in Strabane; Trinity College Dublin English literature. Stirling University, Masters in publishing.
Home: Kilmainham, Dublin
Family: Husband Mehdi, sons Ronan, 8 and Cillian, 5.
The Day Job: Freelance in technology.
In Another Life: “I love improvisation.”
Favourite Writers: Anna Burns; Elena Ferrante; Karl Knausgaard; Edith Wharton; Wendy Erskine; Mike McCormick; Sara Baume; Eimear McBride.
Second Novel: Factory Girl. “I’m editing it.”
Top Tip: “Writing the words is the point. A writer never regrets writing more.”
Website: www.michellegallen.com Twitter: @Michellegallen
The Debut: Big Girl Small Town. John Murray €15.99 Kindle: €10.98.
Working in a chipper, Majella is considered ‘different.’ She hates being noticed. Its tough enough dealing with her mum, after her dad’s disappearance, but when her grandmother is murdered, she becomes the centre of small-town gossip.
“I started writing this when I was living in a loyalist enclave, 10 years after the ceasefire. Everything had changed. It was the troubles that made Northern Ireland special; the media now felt it was all fine, but there was a lot unresolved.”
The Verdict: Superb. A real insight into those, in the North, who, disinterested in politics, simply want a normal life.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 22nd February.
© Sue J Leonard 2020