By Samantha Dempsey
Sarah Breen, co-author of the Aisling series talks to the city about her career and if there will be a fifth Aisling…
Sarah has been a lover of books from a very young age and always had aspirations to write one but could never really carve out the time. It just wasn’t a priority. However, when she and Emer McLysaght were approached by Gill Books in 2016 and offered a book deal it was an opportunity they just couldn’t turn down.
The infamous Aisling was created on day when Sarah and Emer were just out of college and living together in an apartment in Stoneybatter. “One day, while hungover, we started talking about brown mascara. Who buys it? Who can’t commit to a black lash? The more we added characteristics to this person, the more real she started to feel. Unlike us, we decided she would never hoover up coppers rather than picking them up.
She ‘hid from the TV licence inspector. She definitely went Down Home every weekend and was naturally good at small talk at funerals. We gave her the name Aisling and, back then, had no idea she would change our lives.”
Like most people, Sarah has a lot to juggle around her writing but explains that her normal schedule is writing for about three hours a night Monday to Thursday. “Any longer and the creative juices tend to dry up. Me and Emer have a weekly editorial meeting too. When we’re editing, we’ll get together to talk though changes and take in suggestion.
“Our deadline is the end of April so we usually start planning in December and try to get a few chapters in the bag before Christmas. All in it takes about four months for the first draft, then we edit over the summer and then it’s out in October.”
When I asked Sarah what her most Aisling moment was, she replied: “To be honest, I’m actually more Majella. The most Majella thing I’ve ever done happened in college. I went out the night before a family holiday and lost my phone (I used to lose my phone constantly). Woke up in someone else’s house with about one hour before my flight was due to take off.
“I managed to get a taxi home, fire an armload of stuff from my bedroom floor into a bag, and made it to the airport just in the nick of time. My mother was not happy. When I arrived in Austria I opened my bag to find I’d brought about six bras, no knickers, one outfit and two phone chargers. I didn’t even have a phone to plug them into and had to share clothes with my mother all week.”
Sarah and her co-author Emer won the popular fiction category at this years An Post Irish Book Awards and felt “extreme shock!” because the popular fiction category is always so strong as it features international bestselling books, and they we didn’t think they were in with a shot.
“We are just so so grateful to everyone who voted for us because you know online voting is a massive pain in the hole.”
Sarah confirmed that a fifth Aisling is on the way and you can read all about her next Autumn!