Derry woman picks up Penguin book deal

Geraldine Quigley
Image caption More than 2,000 people applied for the year-long mentoring programme last year

A Londonderry woman who developed a passion for writing while working in a call centre has been selected for a special mentoring programme.

Geraldine Quigley first put pen to paper seven years ago and has now penned her first novel, Music Love Drugs War.

She has been picked, along with 11 other writers, to join a year-long Penguin Random House mentoring programme.

"I want the mentoring scheme to push me to be a better writer," she said.

Ms Quigley has been identified by the Penguin as an "exceptional" writer.

She is now part of their mentoring programme, WriteNow, that aims to find, mentor and publish new writers from communities currently under-represented in the industry.

'Voices that speak to all'

Each of the 12 writers are paired with a mentoring editor from Penguin Random House with experience in their genre.

Ms Quigley, who is the sister of bassist Michael Bradley from the Undertones, told BBC Radio Foyle that she has always wanted to write a book.

"I started writing short stories and thought why not a novel," she said.

Music Love Drugs War tells the story of a group of friends in Derry during the Hunger Strike in 1981.

"This story was close to my heart because it is not a traditional story about Northern Ireland," she said.

Books for everyone

"This process is a wonderful thing. I am working with a Penguin mentor for the next 12 months to get my book ready for publishing," she said.

Tom Weldon, who is the Chief Executive of Penguin Random House UK, said that books play a unique role in society.

"They spark conversations and bring people together through new ideas and perspectives.

"Our role is to seek out voices that speak to all of society and make sure those books and stories are for everyone."