Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write. Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon
It was published in Ireland in 1995, where it was an immediate, runaway success. Its chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour appealed to all age groups, and this appeal spread to Britain when Watermelon
was picked as a Fresh Talent book. Other countries followed (most notably the US in 1997) and Marian is now published in thirty-three languages.
To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published ten of them: Watermelon
, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married
, Rachel's Holiday
, Last Chance Saloon
, Sushi for Beginners
, The Other Side of the Story
, Anybody Out There
and This Charming Man
, all bestsellers around the world, a total of twenty-three milllion of her books having been sold to date. The Other Side of the Story
sold over half a million copies in paperback, making it the second highest selling paperback novel published in 2005, with Anybody Out There This Charming Man
, and The Brightest Star in the Sky
matching it.Anybody Out There
won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugaral Melissa Nathan prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man
won the Irish Book award for popular fiction.
The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.
In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake
, which combines recipes with autobiography.
She is no longer able to make public appearances, but continues to write, and in September 2012 will publish The Mystery of Mercy Close
, a novel which combines comedy, romance, mystery and an exploration of depression. In August, she also publishes an e-book short, Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family
As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications. She is also involved with various charities – she contributed to a multi-authored book, Yeats is Dead! where all the royalties were donated to Amnesty International. She has published two collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet
and Further Under the Duvet
, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless.
She was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies, reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.