Paperback, 216 pages
They’ve got it all down
But do they really know each other?
Boyfriends, slumber-parties and stepsisters:
In 5 months
& 5 diaries,
Come a long way.
“A fun read for girls on the verge of PMT.”
(Mary Arrigan, The Sunday Tribune)
“The book’s a charmer.”
“Really well-written and set authentically in the Ireland of today… witty and perceptive.”
“Nothing has quite as daringly set out to cross new frontiers.”
(Robert Dunbar, The Irish Times)
“This subtle unfolding of personality is a major attraction of a perceptive, well-written and well-constructed book by a writer who observes with a clear eye and a sensitive heart.”
(Frank Murphy, Children’s Books in Ireland)
“Remarkably assured for one so young, with strong rounded characters, witty dialogue and a solid plot.”
(The Evening Herald)
“So many scenes felt familiar, the characters were so real, everything was great … so well thought out …”
“… so cool … really realistic …”
“Each story is funny, surprising, and it always has a fall-out in the middle … This book is perfect for girls aged 11-15.”
This is what I did when I was finishing primary school – instead of going outside like a normal kid and playing, or watching TV (wait, I did plenty of that, too), I sat down at the computer and typed. Originally the book was much longer – over 80,000 words – and included diaries from Helen, Orla and Emma as well, but needed to be cut down to about 50,000 words for publication. I think that was the right decision (the alternative would have been to pare down each diary individually). Like all books there’s some fact mixed in with the fiction – trips away were part of sixth class at my school, and my principal did walk in during a sex-ed talk while there were ‘dirty pictures’ up on the blackboard, but the girls’ reactions to these events and experiences are completely made-up – because that’s much more fun to write.
Dear Diary… was the first book I ever published, which is a very weird thing to happen before your fourteenth birthday. One thing everyone kept asking me: “is that you on the cover?” (No.) Another strange thing happened when I went to one school to talk to a class about writing the book, which many of them had read, and they kept asking me questions as though it were a memoir, as though I were the characters (you’d think the fact that there are five narrators, plus the different names, plus the fact that it’s a fiction title, would have given it away). It was quite, quite bizarre and something I’ve never come across again. Now I’d probably have the confidence to turn to a teacher and go, ‘Seriously? Why are you not stepping in here?’
It’s been over ten years since I wrote this book. That’s even more weird. It’s almost obligatory to look back at your first published book and cringe, a lot, but mostly I am grateful I had the good sense to write about characters my own age, and in diary format: at least authenticity-wise, it holds up (I hope). Also (I am not embarrassed to admit this now), yes, Aisling’s Celine Dion obsession? Totally autobiographical. There we go. The truth sets us free!