In a Word . . .

. . . novel. Patsy McGarry

I've been toying with the idea of writing a bestseller novel. Yes, I know, it's hard for a man to do that these days. I could use a woman's name. Like Mary Ann Evans in the 19th century. Author of Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, she went under the name George Eliot.

It was difficult for women authors to be published or to be taken seriously by publishers then. Not now.

Of course I might just stay with my own name and exploit the inherent ambiguity in the gender-fluid Patsy, especially in the US. And I want my novel to be a bestseller in the US. There where, as a student one working summer, an old lady insisted on calling me Pat.

Her explanation was succinct: "Patsy is a girl's name and I can't call you that!" There was no point explaining that in parts of Ireland men are also called Patsy, just like my grandfather and me.


I could call myself Patricia McGarry, but the surname might blow my cover. Especially with a novel title I’m considering. It would be a sure-fire giveaway. Abnormal People would be too strong a clue.

Maybe I should go for something more miserable, like The Handmaid of Auschwitz? I mean, as author John Boyne pointed out in a tweet last month, most other Auschwitz roles and occupations are already gone.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris, was Ireland's best-selling novel of 2019. Other big sellers included The Mistress of Auschwitz, The Brothers of Auschwitz, The Sisters of Auschwitz,The Child of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz, and The Saboteur of Auschwitz.

Hmmm. What about The Daughters of Auschwitz? Would that work? Or, for a change, The Sisters of Treblinka.

I have it, An Aisling in Auschwitz? Put Aisling in any title by a woman author or two these days and sales go right through the roof. Four Times an Aisling? Wow, that’s it! Hold on. Could be copyright issues there. So hard to know.

Maybe if I was just to combine the names of Maeve Binchy and Cecelia Ahern it wouldn't matter what I wrote to guarantee a best seller. I could become Maeve Ahern. Nice Irish ring to it. And my first title could be PS, Light a Penny Candle. What do you think?

Novel, from Latin novella, meaning `new things.'