Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cathy Mansell: Her Father's Daughter

We're very pleased to welcome back Cathy Mansell to Heart of Fiction. Cathy visited us back in February when her debut book, Shadow Across the Liffey, was published. Since then, she has been on a whirlwind ride with interviews from all of her local papers, speaking engagements, and photo shoots. And if that wasn't enough, she was a finalist for the 2013 Romantic Novelists' Association's annual Joan Hessayon Award! This is a very prestigious award for debut authors in Great Britain, and I can tell you, the excitement on the lead-up to the announcement at the award ceremony was so thick you could cut it with the proverbial knife.

Cathy has graciously shared her experience with the award, but first let's talk about her new book, Her Father's Daughter, out today!

Her Father's Daughter takes us back a little to 1950s Ireland. Primarily set in Cork City, Sarah Nolan has taken a job with the Cork Gazette, much to her parents' protests. But she's 21 and anxious to stretch her wings as an adult with a great job opportunity, even if it's in another city. It's a turning period in Ireland's culture -- a time when women are anxious to be in the workplace and not tied to the cooker, a time when women are starting to feel some independence -- and Sarah wants to be part of it.

Things don't get off to a great start for Sarah. Her new landlord is a letch who instills some fear for her personal security. She's also trying to find her footing in her new job, meeting new people, and learning the layout of her new home city.

When she befriends young Lucy, pregnant and abandoned by the man who got her that way, Sarah promises to help. She's just not prepared that along the way, some of her own family's secrets start revealing themselves, and she learns why her parents so strongly objected to the job in Cork.

Then she meets coworker, Dan Madden. He's sweet, attentive, and supportive. But he's also engaged. Not just to anyone. Ruth is Sarah's boss's daughter.

Oh, my! Sarah just wants to take advantage of this amazing career opportunity and find herself as a strong Irish woman. She never imagined such drama was going to reveal itself the moment she steps off the train at Kent Station.

Cathy takes us all around Cork City and environs in this story, following Sarah as she finds her way in the world, and how her relationships unfold with the people she meets. And what you think will happen next will, undoubtedly, surprise you. I'll just say that this story touches on the infamous Magdalene Laundries in Cork City, which will rev your emotions into high gear. Have a hanky nearby while you're reading. Cathy is not one to shy away from gritty storytelling. Equally, she plays on all of your emotions. You will chuckle and you will sigh, and you will shed a tear. Every great story should bring about readers' emotions, and Her Father's Daughter is top of the list of great stories. A must read.

So, let's hear from Cathy about her experience with the Joan Hessayon Award, then we'll share an excerpt from Her Father's Daughter.

• • •

Welcome, Cathy, and thank you for sharing your experiences with the Joan Hessayon Award.

2013 Joan Hessayon Award Finalists
photo courtesy Romantic Novelists Association
I was fortunate and honoured to be one of the finalists for the Joan Hessayon Award last month, one of many coveted awards presented to members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The RNA has run the Joan Hessayon Award since 1962 to encourage fresh talent. Experienced published authors read manuscripts submitted by new writers to the New Writers’ Scheme. Any manuscript subsequently published as a debut novel is then eligible for the award. Dr. David Hessayon sponsors the Joan Hessayon Award in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a most ardent supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s for a number of years, I sent in my manuscripts for assessment in the hope that, one day, I would get lucky and become a published author. Joining the new writer’s scheme was one of the best things I have ever done. I was encouraged right from the beginning, by the various scheme organisers and received invaluable feedback from generous readers, busy writers themselves, who volunteer to become readers each year for the RNA.Their constructive advice helped me to hone my craft and eventually get my debut novel published.

When Tirgearr Publishing agreed to publish Shadow Across the Liffey in October 2012, I was over the moon. In fact, I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. Then four months later, I was offered a second contract for Her Father’s Daughter. What could be better than that?

Becoming a published author meant that I would no longer be a new writer on the New Writers’ Scheme, but a fully fledged member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It felt so rewarding. Furthermore, my book, Shadow Across the Liffey, was immediately put forward as a contender for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award the following May 2013.

I have been to most of the RNA’s awards, especially the Joan Hessayon. And along with many other unpublished authors, I never thought it would happen. This was something that only happened to other lucky people. So, this year as I stood up there with nine other contenders for the award I felt honoured and proud to be a finalist. Win or lose, it was fun to be part of it all.

The lovely Liesel Schwartz took the prize, a silver rose dish and a cheque for £1000 for her debut novel, A conspiracy of Alchemists. Sure, we were all winners. Each finalist received a £50 cheque and a certificate. It was a wonderful day. Fourteen supporters from Leicester, including my two lovely daughters, Sharon and Samantha, were there to support me and wish me luck. How could I not feel like a winner?

• • •

You're a winner with us, Cathy!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It definitely sounds like an exciting time.

Now, onto the excerpt from Her Father's Daughter.

• • •

Set in 1950s Ireland, twenty-year-old Sarah Nolan leaves her Dublin home after a series of arguments. She's taken a job in Cork City with The Gazette, a move her parents strongly oppose. With her limited budget, she is forced to take unsavory accommodations where the landlord can't be trusted. Soon after she settles in, Sarah befriends sixteen-year-old Lucy who has been left abandoned and pregnant.

Dan Madden is a charming and flirtatious journalist who wins Sarah's heart. He promises to end his engagement with Ruth, but can Sarah trust him to keep his word?

It's when her employer asks to see her birth certificate that Sarah discovers some long-hidden secrets. Her parents' behaviour continue to baffle her and her problems with Dan and Lucy multiply.

Will Dan stand by Sarah in her time of need? Will Sarah be able to help Lucy keep her baby? Or will the secrets destroy Sarah and everything she dreams of for her future?

Sarah glanced towards the far end of the platform as she boarded her train and wondered if her parents would appear and try to drag her back home. Being at odds with the two people she loved most in the world upset her. She hauled her suitcase into an empty compartment.

Sliding the door behind her, she lowered the window and had one last look along the empty platform. The couple she imagined were not the mother and father she had loved and understood all these years, but the man and woman they had become when she had so joyously told them her news. It was difficult for a woman to get into journalism and Sarah found it hard to believe that she’d done it. She hoisted her case onto the overhead rack, and slumped into the nearest seat.

Would they ever forgive her for going off like this? Her parents were the reason that she had stayed in Dublin so long. Then, there was her long-standing friendship with twenty-two year old Derek who worked for the Telegraph Office. He had wished her well, and had tried talking to her father. He wouldn’t listen.

The train began to move, great sobs of steam filled her ears - and her heart, too. She hauled on the leather strap to close the window against smoke and smut. Now, as, she watched the city and the countryside she loved slipping away behind her, she felt overcome with disappointment. This wasn’t how she’d imagined it would be leaving home for the very first time. To be at such odds with her parents was something she had never experienced before. Never.

A job on the Cork Gazette was a dream come true, so why were they so desperate for her to stay in Dublin? She had been shocked to the core by the speed and ferocity the row with her parents had taken, and she was left with no choice but to withdraw her savings from the post office to make this journey. She knew her insecurity and her lack of financial support was going to make it hard to carry on, but she vowed there and then to manage on a shoestring until she received her first pay packet.
Growing up, she’d had many disagreements with them, like the time she wanted to be a girl guide and they wanted her to take up Irish dancing. Thoughts of having her hair in ringlets every week had been a major factor, but she had won them over in the end. Then, when she was fifteen, she had wanted expensive high heels to go ballroom dancing with her friends.

‘Time enough for shoes like that when you’re older,’ her mother had ruled.
But this was different. She was twenty now, and journalism was what she had been trained for. Why weren’t they pleased for her?

Trying not to think about the blazing row, she reached for her handbag. Her mass of chestnut hair fell across her face as she re-read the letter from the editor, Neil Harrington. In spite of everything, a smile brightened her face. As she planned the economies she would make, the click clack of the train caused her eyelids to droop, and she fell asleep.

• • •

Cathy Mansell writes romantic fiction. Her recently written family sagas are set in her home country of Ireland. One of these sagas closely explores her affinities with Dublin and Leicester. Her children's stories are frequently broadcast on local radio and she also writes newspaper and magazine articles. Cathy has lived in Leicester for fifty years. She belongs to Leicester Writers' Club and edited an Arts Council-funded anthology of work by Lutterworth Writers, of which she is president.

Find Cathy Online --

• • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Her Father's Daughter today to one lucky commenter. Leave Cathy a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

If you can't wait to see if you're a winner, grab a copy of Her Father's Daughter here.


  1. Welcome, Cathy! Thanks for your post on your amazing experience with the Joan Hessayon Award. I'm glad it was such a positive experience for you.

    Congrats on the release of your second book, Her Father's Daughter. Another fabulous story.

    1. Hi Kem - thanks for arranging my information on the Heart of fiction blog and making it interesting to read.

      It was a nice surprise to see the line up photo of all the
      finalists for the award up here. Brilliant!


  2. It has been such an exciting period in your life Cathy, and I wish you every success with 'Her Father's Daughter', you so deserve it.


    1. Thanks Maragaret for your kind comment.
      You are right it is the most exciting time in years.
      I intend to enjoy every minute of it.


  3. Congratulations on your new release. I have had a sneak preview of this but will enjoy reading it all over again. Plus this one is signed, will be worth a fortune one day :)

    1. Bless you Samantha. Thanks for finding the time to pop in.
      I do appreciate it.
      The autographed books are limited editions, so you never know.

      Cathy X

    Congratulations Cathy. You've certainly got talent.
    I hope lots of people buy and enjoy your latest book.
    Her Father's Daughter.

    From you know who! DENNIS XXX

    1. Thanks honey,
      lovely that you put a comment on here.
      You are amazing.

      Thank you

  5. Cathy I have downloaded a Signed copy of her fathers Daughter Just got started , But I am sure i shall enjoy it as much as Shadow across the Liffey Which I couldn't put down
    wishing you the very best for the future, and lots more books

    1. Mona - thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It's always
      lovely to hear from readers.Especially at this stage when I'm still building up a readership.


  6. Wow,. Cathy, you really are on a roll. Good luck with HIS FATHER'S DAUGHTER, you've worked so hard to achieve this success and it is well deserved. Your books are so full of emotion and that's what hooks the reader in :-)

    1. Thanks Lizzie. Your comment is much appreciated.
      From one busy lady to another; thanks


  7. Congratulations Cathy on your new book.

    What an exciting time you're having at the moment! You deserve every minute!

    I have downloaded Her Father's Daughter and am looking forward to reading it. I'm sure this will be just as successful.


    1. Thank you so much Stephen - So pleased that you've download a copy
      of Her Father's Daughter so soon. I do hope you enjoy reading it.

      Thanks for your lovely comments.

    2. Thank you all for your lovely comments.

      Margaret Kaine's comment was chosen as the winner for a free copy of Her Father's Daughter.