Best-selling Irish author Maria Duffy’s second novel, The Terrace, has just hit our shelves and it is a hugely enjoyable read about the lives of residents on a Dublin street as their world is turned upside down by a missing lotto ticket. Maria first came to prominence last year with her debut, Any Dream Will Do. The novel itself is fantastic but it was her online presence and modern approach to getting published that got everyone talking. We join Maria on a tour of the ‘Twitterverse’ to find out how it all came about.
Maria, in your first novel, Any Dream Will Do, we see thirty-something Jenny drunkenly inviting her Twitter friends to stay with her in Dublin, only to realise that she won’t be able to hide her not-so-glamorous life behind her computer anymore. What a fantastic concept for a first novel! How did you come up with it?
Thank you! The concept for Any Dream Will Do came to me after I was contacted by Sheila Crowley, a literary agent with Curtis Brown in London. She’d been following me on Twitter and told me that if I could write a book using my Twitter voice, I’d have something special. At that stage, I’d been hankering after that elusive book deal and didn’t have an agent. She told me to write something fresh and send her a few chapters. It seemed that a story centred around Twitter was the obvious choice and I started to build the idea and characters in my head. Sheila loved what I sent her and signed me up. Soon after that, I had a two book deal with Hachette Ireland – a dream come true!
What a great way to start out! Did you join social networking sites such as Twitter just to publicise yourself as an author or had you been dipping your toes in the water already?
To be honest, I was dragged kicking and screaming onto Twitter! I know you’ll find that hard to believe, considering my seventy thousand plus tweets to date. I was told that there was an ever-growing number of writers, publishers, readers, etc. who were tweeting and it was the place to be to meet like-minded people. I did as many do and dipped my toe in with a “Hello, is there anyone out there?” and I think it was probably a few days before anyone responded! I hated it! I wondered why anyone would bother. Then I started looking up authors and people I knew and before long, I’d built up a following and began to enjoy my daily tweeting. At first, I tweeted mostly about writing but as I got to know more people, the Twitterverse became a place where we chatted about everything. Nowadays, watching The X-Factor or the Eurovision wouldn’t be the same without tweeting our way through it!