Ex-student of Roddy Doyle secures six-figure contract for trilogy


DUBLINER CELINE Kiernan has won a six-figure publishing deal.

Kiernan's Moorehawke trilogy, the first of which, The Poison Throne, was published in Ireland by O'Brien Press earlier this year, has garnered her a UK/US publishing contract with Little Brown, with the Australian, German, Russian and Spanish rights already sold.

Kiernan (40) was taught English by novelist Roddy Doyle during her time in secondary school in Kilbarrack, Dublin, in the 1980s. She dedicated The Poison Throneto the Booker prizewinner and his fellow English teacher at the school, Catherine Dunne.

"At that time, we all had such a bleak future ahead of us, but those teachers made us feel like we could do something with ourselves, and that stuck with me," she said. "I always remembered Mr Doyle, him and Ms Dunne, and just how supportive they were." Her famous teacher has not forgotten her either.

"I remember her work was always very vivid," said Doyle. "She was in a very, very good class, but when I had 30 stories to correct, I'd always make sure hers was one of the first I read, to get me motivated."

Kiernan, who lives in Cavan with her husband and two children, has been writing ever since.

" The Poison Throneis my fifth novel," she admits, having had the previous four rejected by publishers and agents. Making a living as an animator, she wrote her fantasy trilogy in her spare time, with support from her family key in its completion.

"This time last year, I nearly couldn't go on. I was halfway through the third book in the trilogy, and I was saying to myself: 'The kids have no shoes on their feet. What am I doing?' But my husband wrote on my Christmas card, 'Don't give up'."

Her perseverance paid off with yesterday's confirmation of the six-figure deal that has taken Kiernan by surprise. "I can't believe it. I'm so chuffed," she said.

Less surprised, perhaps, are her Irish publishers, with Michael O'Brien of O'Brien Press commenting: "The buzz surrounding the rights deals confirmed the excitement we felt at O'Brien from the moment we first read The Poison Throne. We can only compare it to when we first discovered Eoin Colfer [author of the Artemis Fowl series]."

How will Kiernan, who has already completed the second and third books in the trilogy, celebrate her success? By "drinking a cup of hot chocolate and putting my feet up", she says.