First-time author Eithne Shortall

MATCHMAKING your friends can be a tricky territory – but matchmaking strangers is a whole other ballgame. This is exactly what Sunday Times journalist Eithne Shorthall has explored in her first book, Love in Row 27.
As chief arts writer for The Sunday Times, the Drumcondra native is more familiar with being on the other side of the coin when it comes to reviews.
However, “so far it’s all gone very well and I’m very pleased with how it’s going,” she told The Gazette.
Love in Row 27 tells the story of an Aer Lingus check-in attendant Cora, who, having just suffered a devastating break up, distracts herself by matchmaking flight passengers.
Eithne said: “The original idea for the book was from me getting on an airplane. Whenever I get a flight, I always look around and think, who would I want to sit beside? Usually, I’m looking for an attractive man!
“But then I thought, what if you ended up beside a very attractive person and what if someone put you there on purpose? So I immediately thought of matchmaking and I love doing it in real life, and now I can do it in fiction as well.
“When I’m doing it with friends I know them but when Cora is matchmaking she doesn’t know them, so it’s different.”
The entertaining romance novel has enjoyed a fantastic reception since its release.
“We haven’t had a bad review so far, I shouldn’t say that out loud though because one will just arrive tomorrow!”
Eithne said she was struck by nerves for a while before it was released.
“When you’re writing, you don’t know if it’s any good or not and just before it went out, I had real, serious anxiety when I thought I had written the worst thing ever and was about to ruin my life – that everyone would read it and laugh at me.
“So, when it first went out and they sent it to authors to see if they liked it and give us a quote for the cover, I was surprised when they came back positively,” she laughed.
One of the good reviews came from romance novelist veteran Marian Keyes. “I was delighted. I never met her but I think she’s great. She must get sent so many books a week, but thankfully she took mine out of the pile and she read it and contacted me to say how much she liked it.
“She gave us a quote for the cover, which was really the best thing in the world.”
This was the same week that the TV rights of the book were sold and Eithne says that it “paled in comparison” to getting the good review from Marian. “It was such a vote of confidence. It means a lot.”
To write the book, Eithne said she was lucky that she was able to take leave from her job for three months to go to London and focus solely on her writing.
And, even though she writes for a living, she said she couldn’t have written the book whilst doing the day job.
“They’re totally different styles and approaches. In one, you’re completely making stuff up, and in the other, you really shouldn’t be making anything up!”
Now working on her second book but working at the same time, the experience of already writing one book has prepared her for the task, but doing both is definitely tough.
As a first-time author, Eithne said her advice to aspiring authors is to “just do it”.
“That’s the most facetious advice, but people make loads of excuses to not write. Before I started I always said that I had no time to write, but then I just found a way.
“Just do it. Just write. Get up earlier than everyone else in your house and even if you write 300 words a day, you would have a book written within a year.”

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