From Mrs Brown to Boston – Anne swaps TV for books

by Gazette Reporter
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By Rose Barrett

For one Dublin woman – who was used to working in the fast and competitive pace of television and radio production – the Covid-19 restrictions brought one positive.

Anne McLoughlin, who grew up at Woodbine Avenue near Belfield, finally got to develop not one, not two but all three books in her ‘Lives’ series.

It was being highly commended in the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition at the Wexford Literary Festival that gave Anne the encouragement to develop her novels, the plot of which had been niggling at the back of her brain for years.

She told Dublin Gazette: “Despite the festival being cancelled last year, the competitions went ahead and my novel was shortlisted in the ‘Meet the Publisher’ section. I then got the opportunity to pitch the idea for my ‘Lives’ trilogy to Poolbeg Press and a three book deal followed.”

Anne, who lives in Booterstown, wrote Lives Apart, her debut novel and the first in the trilogy, during the early lockdowns, when she found herself locked in her second home in rural Ballygarret, Co Wexford.

“I got the offer from Poolbeg in September and I was thrilled,” she said. “It’s a tale of emigration from Ireland to America after the famine and tells the family saga of betrayal, tragedy and survival.”

The book can be ordered on Amazon and Anne has been thrilled with the reviews.

Lives Apart tells the story of a young Johanna McNamara, who, in 1877 left the quiet family farm in Co Clare to join her successful brother Hugh in America. Full of her own dreams and aspirations, tragedy strikes and Johanna finds she must forgo her own future for the care of others.

The book covers the family’s struggles and emotions back in Ireland, and in the USA as sibling rivalries emerge.

When lockdown was eased before Christmas, Anne got back to Dublin to her apartment in Booterstown and was looking forward to catching up with family, with her sisters, nieces and nephews.

“Obviously, I was then grounded in lockdown in Dublin but I’ve already delivered the second book, ‘Lives Without End’ to the publishers, the final edit to be completed in March. The book is scheduled for publication in May.

“This second book spans three generations of a family with secrets emerging and it is set in Wexford, Clare and Boston,” said Anne.

Hard work and creativity is nothing new to Anne. Having started out in sales in RTÉ she went on to spend 25 years working in television, film and radio production before pursuing a successful career in freelancing.

“I was assistant producer on Fair City – I think it was 2001 when I finished up there. I also worked with ‘Anything Goes’, a children/youth programme which aired on Saturday mornings.”

Television offered diversity and Anne went on to work with the documentary series ‘Would You Believe’, travelling across Ireland and the world with programmes shot in Africa, Israel, Guatemala, etc.

She worked with Pat Kenny and the popular current affairs radio programme Kenny Live. Finally, she took the plunge and decided to do freelancing work which brought her to work with Brendan O’Carroll and Mrs Brown.

She revealed: “I had a hand in starting the video career of the bold ‘Mrs Brown’. Brendan was doing all his work in theatre then and he thought he’d like to do some videos to promote Mrs Brown’s Boys to a UK and American audience.

“He needed someone who had drama experience, a freelance consultant, so I did a feasibility study, and production managed it, breaking the project into segments. It was all filmed on location at Donnycarney and the first video was a resounding success.

“We did a second one together, and the success of Mrs Brown was assured. After that, the shows were shot in studio.”

‘Lives Reunited’ is the third book in the series, and already Anne is turning her attention to that. But, she resolutely insisted: “You’re not getting any teasers on it.”

Lives Apart now on sale on Amazon.

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