Beginner's pluck with Maria Hoey

Maria Hoey left school at 16 and took an office job in Swords, Co Dublin.

“I always hated school. I took my Leaving Certificate myself, in 1979.”

She married at 20, had a daughter at 21, but two years later she left the marriage, taking her daughter with her.

“I worked as a dental nurse — then as a legal secretary.”

Maria started writing when her tutors praised her essays during her BA.

“I worked in a bar throughout that time, and took a lodger so I could pay the mortgage.”

Afterwards it was back to secretarial work, writing in every spare minute.

“I had some success. I had poetry in Poetry Ireland and short stories shortlisted in competitions.

“In 2010, I wrote a story about a girl going missing. It was shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award. It stayed with me, but I wanted to write the sister’s story. I thought, how does anyone live with not knowing?” She started writing the book, then her father died.

“I took a break, and when I got back to it, I wrote a better book because I knew the real feeling of grief and loss.”

Who is Maria Hoey?

Date/place of birth: 1959/London.

Education: St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rush. St Patrick’s Drumcondra: BA, English and History.

Home: Portmarnock.

Family: Husband, Garret O’Boyle, daughter Rebecca D’Arcy.

The Day Job: Legal PA to the President of the Law Society.

In Another Life: “I’d be a writer, but I’d be living somewhere warm.”

Favourite Writers: Classics; Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, The Russians. PD James; Agatha Christie; Colin Dexter; Scandinavian Noir; Anne Enright; Colm Tóibín.

Second Novel: “I’m halfway through. It’s more linear, but has a dark underbelly.”

Top Tip: “Believe in yourself. Don’t let anything come between you and writing, and find your voice.”

Twitter: @MariaHoey

The Debut

The Last Lost Girl; Poolbeg Crimson, €8.99/Kindle, €5.67

It’s the sizzling summer of 1976 when teenager Lilly Brennan disappears, leaving her parents and two sisters distraught. 37 years later on the death of her father, Lilly’s sister Jacqueline stumbles upon a clue to the mystery. Will the truth allow her to, finally, move on in life?

The Verdict: Quite wonderful! An atmospheric, character driven mystery exploring the effects of grief and guilt.


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