The latest offering from Sheila O’Flanagan is Better Together. The story of the girl who seems to have it all but then in what seems like the blink if an eye it’s all gone. Sheridan Grey has a job she loves as a sports journalist for a high-profile newspaper, shares a gorgeous flat with her best friend and has a steady boyfriend. However, the paper is in trouble and there are cuts to be made. Yeah you guessed it, her was right there on the chopping block. To make it worse, her best friend and flat mate – fashion editor at the same paper, well she wasn’t let go and still got the offer of a better job. As if that’s not bad enough the job is in Belfast, so Sheridan has now lost her flat mate. Then they have an idea – ask Sheridan’s boyfriend to come live with her. That makes sense – right? Wrong. She gets the I like you speech, I like you but I thought you knew this wasn’t going anywhere. Job – Gone. Flat mate – Gone. Boyfriend – Gone.
Sheridan strives every day to be a winner, she comes from a family of winners. Right now she feels like a loser. Despite sending her CV to everyone she can think of she is still jobless. Then a temporary job at a paper in the back water of Ardbawn becomes available. Sure it’s not what she is looking for, but the more she researches the job the more intrigued she becomes. This job might just present the opportunity to break the story that’s going to jump-start her career again.
Back in Ardbawn Nina Fallon owns a guest house. Unfortunately for Nina a recent turn of events has left her shattered and at a cross roads in her life. Does she continue to make a life without her philandering husband or does she listen as he begs and give him yet another chance? Avoiding her friends, the local gossips and most certainly the press Nina tries to keep it all together while being the perfect host. When Sheridan arrives on her doorstep looking for lodgings for a few months little did she know she was inviting the press into her life.
As Sheridan gets to work on the local paper – owned by the man she deems responsible for cutting her job she starts digging further. This story of opportunity as she see’s it is going to bring down the man she despises most. She didn’t realise though that as she settles in to life in Ardbawn and makes friends, and begins to fall in love that the story she is trying to uncover will hurt the people she comes to care about.
Will love conquer all? Is Sheridan’s ambition going to triumph? Will she leave Ardbawn even more unhappy than when she arrived?
Are the friends we make on the course of this journey Better Together or is it time for a change?
The legendary Sheila O’Flanagan is back and at her best. Though to be quite honest I am not sure if there was ever a time when she was at anything other that her best. Nineteen books is no mean feat! Nineteen books and no sign of slowing down!
I am proud to say I have read all 19 of these books too. I think 19 must be the magic number, this is the age I was when I started to read Sheila’s books. At the grand old age of 30 I feel like she has accompanied me through those first adult years as I was learning about myself, fell in love and went on to get married and have children of my own.
Many women are in the same boat as myself. Not only is Sheila O’Flanagan one of the top Irish authors but she is an international Best Seller. You will be hard pressed to find a woman who enjoys female fiction that does not have several of her books in their collection.
This most recent book was extremely enjoyable. I have read in a few reviews that people found it long. That is only a problem if the story isn’t any good. Suffice to say the length of the book is not a problem. What I really loved were the little crumbs thrown to us from the very beginning of the book. The way I was trying to work out the pieces of the puzzle but I only had bits for around the edges, when I got those missing all important middle pieces I was wrong. The story didn’t take me to where I thought it was going to go. I love this about a book. You know when you are talking to friends about a book and you say, “ah sure it was so predictable you knew how it was going to end by the second chapter”. That’s not going to happen here.
When I tweeted Sheila O’Flanagan and asked her for an interview i honestly didn’t even expect a reply. Never mind for her to follow me on twitter (a dance around the floor moment for me) and then send me back the interview within an hour of receiving it. I was always a fan, but now im one of her biggest fans. The lady is a legend, though when you read her interview you will she doesn’t believe this of herself. She see’s herself just the same as you and me! There is no big head which is all to often the case, and she has time for her fans. Amazing!
Who is Sheila O’Flanagan?
Author, sports fan, a bit asthmatic, slightly paranoid, sister, daughter, auntie and other half of my other half.
When you wrote your first book did you ever imagine where it would take you?
All I hoped was that it would one day get published and that I’d see it on a bookshelf in my local bookshop! I might have thought that if it was successful I’d write another 2 or 3 books. I never ever thought I’d write 19!!!!
Do any of your books hold an extra special place in your heart?
That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! For different reasons they’re all special. I remember them all by the names of the main character, so to me they’re part of the family. Whenever someone says the name of any of the characters I’m totally with them again.
What is your all time favourite book?
Impossible to answer. I have lots of favourites depending on my mood. But when I’m feeling really low I always turn to PG Wodehouse for a lift. His books are so funny and his English so perfect that I can’t help but end up smiling.
Do you have a preferred Genre to read?
Not really. When I’m writing myself, I like to read crime and thrillers because they’re so different to my own work. I’m also a fan of historical fiction, especially Phillipa Gregory’s novels. I like popular science and physics stuff too.
I’ve just read and immensely enjoyed Better Together. I was sure things with a particular character were going to work out a particular way and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong. Did you know at the beginning how the book would end?
I love it when I surprise a reader! Maybe that’s because I can get surprised by the characters myself. I have some ideas but once the characters take on a life of their own those ideas can change. The only book I’ve ever written where I was 100% sure of the ending was Isobel’s Wedding. And then lots of people wanted a sequel to it, because of the ending. I’m not keen on sequels but I understood why readers wanted more, so I wrote a long short story about what happened next for her (it’s in my Connections collection).
As a Best Selling author do you find there is a good support network within the industry, both for the well known authors and those starting out?
Generally I think that publishing is one of the nicer industries to be involved in because most of the people working in it are very passionate about books. The majority of authors that I know are supportive of each other and always willing to offer advice to new writers.
Do you have any advice for those starting out?
I know this sounds very unhelpful, but just write your book! Don’t spend too long worry about what it should or shouldn’t be. I sometimes see blogs about ‘the 10 things you need for a successful novel’ or ‘7 ways to make your characters more exciting’ but the truth is that if you tell a good story you are already 99% of the way there. So don’t waste time, just sit down and start and have faith in yourself.
Who or what inspires you?
Every other author who’s ever written a book inspires me. Especially when I hear them say that sometimes it’s hard work writing a novel. Because it is. But it’s hard work I love doing. I’m also inspired by great sportspeople who train hard and win events. Basically, most things that are worth doing involve hard work so I guess I’m saying that all hard workers – no matter what their job is – inspire me.
Is there someone you look to as a mentor – either now or when you were starting out?
To be honest, no. I’m very self-contained!
What would you describe as your career highlight?
Getting to Number 1 in the UK charts with Someone Special was fantastic. And so was winning the Eason Popular Fiction Award for All For You. (I’d been nominated 3 times before and hadn’t won so it was lovely to finally hear my name announced.)
Can you remember the moment you were able to say – ‘Yes I’ve made it’
Oh, look, I don’t think you ever really feel that! I’ll try to remember it when I do, though 🙂
What can we expect in the future?
I’ve just signed a contract with my publisher, Headline, for 2 more novels. I’ve also been working on a screenplay of one of my books, and I have thoughts about a series of YA books. So there’s enough there to keep me busy.
Sausage or Bacon?
They go together!!!!!!
Red or White wine?
Sweet or Savoury?
Eat to live or Live to eat?
Eat to live
Tea or Coffee?
Champagne or Cocktail?