A novel which arose out of a Facebook character created by two friends was Ireland's bestselling book at Christmas.
Oh My God What a Complete Aisling the Novel by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen narrowly pipped children's author David Walliams's Bad Dad to the top slot.
The character of Aisling, the quintessential country girl living and working in the Big Smoke, grew out of a Facebook page created by the authors in 2008, which now has more than 40,000 followers.
Oh My God sold 11,104 books in the week ending December 23rd which is the busiest week of the year for sales.
Walliams’ Bad Dad, which is Ireland’s bestselling book in 2017, sold 10,881 books in the same time period, according to Neilsen BookScan.
The success of the Aisling novel marks the end of a memorable year for its co-authors who met in Ballyfermot College of Further Education in 2003 where they both studied media.
Co-author Emer McLysaght said they expected the novel would do well in the Christmas market but never that it would be the bestseller.
“We had a meeting with our publishers pre-Christmas who said we might sell 7,000 to 8,000 in the week, but never expected to beat out children’s books and the big gift books,” she said.
“It’s a good feeling that so many people must have got it as a Christmas present.”
The novel was only released in August and prior to Christmas week had sold 22,647 copies making it the sixth biggest selling book in Ireland in 2017.
Like many first-time authors, neither had an expectation that the book would be such a success.
“We got the opportunity to write it, grabbed it and thought that if our friends and our mams read it and it fell flat on its face otherwise, we would be happy,” Emer said.
“We never expected it to be this much of a success. We have strangers contacting us saying, ‘we loved the book so much. It made us cry’.”
It was a memorable year too for Sarah Breen who had a child, her second, in January.
The pair are now working on a follow-up which will be published next autumn. “It’s going to pick up where we left off,” explained Emer. “Aisling ends up spending a lot more time in Ballygobbard where she is from.”
They write alternative chapters. “When we started turning in the first few chapters of the first book to the publisher, they responded that they couldn’t tell who had written what. We are good friends and have a similar sense of humour.”
They will be spending New Year’s Eve together in Sarah’s house. “Somebody gave us a nice bottle of champagne at the book launch so we’re going to open it tonight.”
The third highest selling book of Christmas week was Dublin footballer Philly McMahon’s The Choice which sold 8,679 copies.
Blindboy Boatclub’s The Gospel According to Blindboy sold 5,677 books, Marian Keyes’s The Break 5,827 copies and Paul Howard’s Operation Trumsformation 4,459 books to complete the top 10.
The Atlas of the Irish Revolution, one of the big publishing successes of the year despite its hefty size and €59 price tag, sold 3,197 copies during Christmas week.
Ireland’s top 10 Christmas books are:
- Oh My God What a Complete Aisling The Novel - Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen (11,104)
- Bad Dad - David Walliams (10,881)
- The Choice - Philly McMahon and Niall Kelly (8,679)
- The Guinness World Records 2018 (6,720)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway (book 12) - Jeff Kinney (6,566)
- The Break - Marian Keyes (5,827)
- The Gospel According to Blindboy - Blindboy Boatclub (5,677)
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (5,245)
- 5 Ingredients - Jamie Oliver (5,163)
- Operation Trumpsformation - Paul Howard (4,459)