The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney came out last week, so to mark its release- the author has kindly revealed ten things she'd like us to know about the person behind the book. 

Patricia Gibney

Patricia Gibney

I am an armchair sport enthusiast

The only sport I ever played was Hockey in secondary school. And I wasn’t that good at it. I was the B team player, and never did make the A team. I never ventured into any other sports unless you call a half hour walk three times a week a sport.

But I love watching sport on television. I’m a golf groupie, a football fanatic and even a snooker supporter. Once sport is on the box, I’m caught up in a different world. Let me clear, I’m no threat to any of these superstars. I’m a viewer only.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I do shout at the screen from time to time. Can they not hear me? Look what that idiot just did! I seem to forget that the ‘idiot’ is probably making double figure millions annually.

In football, Liverpool is my team of choice. I started following them in my early teens. I think I was in love with most of the team at one stage.

Golf gives me a sense of relaxation, particularly American golf. It is nearly always blue skies, sunshine and vast expanses of green. How could it not relax you? Until Rory Mcllroy misses a putt. Then the shouting starts.

I love coffee but don’t drink it anymore.

Coffee and a cigarette were my guilty pleasures. But about two years ago I quit the cigarettes (I bought a new car, which I couldn’t afford, and calculated the money I spent on cigarettes would pay back the loan). To my horror I discovered that the coffee had to go also. For the sake of my health, not to mention my bank account, I persisted in quitting the dreaded cigarettes. But each time I made a cup of coffee, my hand reached for the pack of cigarettes that were no longer there. The aroma of freshly made coffee triggered the need for nicotine. I was in a dilemma. I’d fought hard to kick the habit (third time lucky) and wasn’t going to succumb to temptation. The coffee had to go. I packed my stash of expensive jars off to my sister and spent weeks getting my taste buds to accept tea. Yes, tea is nice and refreshing. And all those green tea flavours; it takes time but you can acquire a taste for it. If I keep telling myself that, I can convince the world.

Things are going well at the moment, despite my son buying the most gorgeous coffee machine last Christmas (You know the one, with the little pod yokes). The smell fills the house and I’d kill for a coffee but I no longer crave the hit of nicotine. To kick the dreaded habit of smoking I had to give up on my love of coffee. And now, I no longer mourn its loss like the passing of a loved one.

I worked in the Civil Service – for three months.

At age seventeen I secured my first job with the Civil service in Dublin. I was posted (important use of word – you will see) to work in the Department of Social Welfare, Children’s Allowance Branch. Oisín House, Townsend Street In Dublin. Big anonymous looking building with a multitude of smog-soiled windows and it was hard to believe that the beautiful Trinity College lay right behind it.

As it turned out I was sent to the postal section. Mmm. Couldn’t be too difficult for a culchie right out of school, could it? (This was before web sites and email).

My job was to open the post, sort it, put it into wooden pigeon-holes and repeat ad nauseam. All okay so far. But my appointment happened to coincide with the start of what turned out to be one of the longest postal strikes in the history of the state. It wasn’t too bad, in hindsight. I found solace in smoking my first cigarettes and in reading. God knows how many books I devoured, and ten cigarettes were not that dear, back then.

I lasted three months in my very first job. Boredom eventually got the better of me and I was lucky enough to get another job before I was driven to distraction and quit.

I wrote, illustrated and self published a children’s book

In 2011, in one of my fits of madness (I’m prone to this from time to time – must be the creative demon inside of me) I decided I would like to do a children’s book. I created this wacky character and called her Spring Sprong Sally. I have no idea where that name came from but it stuck. I made little cards with Sally drawn on them and the project developed from there.

In the end, I wrote, illustrated and self-published a children’s book called Spring Sprong Sally in her Spring Sprong World. It was quite cute in all honesty.

 As I’d made the drawings simple, it was easy for me, when performing readings at libraries and schools, to show the children how to draw Sally and her wacky town buildings.

Unfortunately with no business or marketing skills, I didn’t sell many copies. It’s still up on Amazon, though the site states it is ‘out of stock’. Don’t worry – I have a room full with boxes of Spring Sprong Sally!

I love to paint

I love to paint. I started at a very young age and my parents sent me to lessons with a local artist May Raleigh. I was aged about six. So I have always doodled on and off over the years. I joined art groups and developed my craft in acrylics. I fell in love with acrylics and how easy they were to use. Over the last few years I decided to chance my arm at watercolours. I’d always heard that watercolours are one of the most difficult medium to use and I love a challenge. Wow! I love them. The flow of the water is so relaxing and it is incredible to see how water transform the paint into images you cannot achieve with other mediums.

I’ve lived in Mullingar all my life

Mullingar is a town in the heart of Ireland. Except for my three month stint in Dublin and a year in Cavan, Mullingar has always been my home. I married a local lad. It is interesting to note that my sister married Eamonn and my brother married Colette, both from the same estate as my husband, Aidan.

I love New York

I once had a fear of flying. It happened flying home from The Algarve after a family holiday. Bumpity-bump flight. I was terrified. I swore I’d never fly again. Then Aidan’s brother was getting married in New Jersey. Everyone was going. So I swallowed a couple of glasses of wine and boarded the plane with trepidation. And surprise, surprise, no fear!

Since then I’ve been to New York too many times to count. I love the buzz. The life in the city. The hustle and bustle. The lights. The noise. Oh and the shops! It is so far removed from my hometown, that it could be on another planet. It certainly makes me feel like I am on another planet.  Can’t wait to return.

I can act – I think.

I have taken part in many dramas and pantomimes over the years. My favourite was The Factory Girls, performed in Mullingar Art Centre, a few years ago. I had a lead role and had to learn a Donegal accent. Don’t know how I did it but apparently I was convincing. We sold out the three shows. Must be the magic of the stage.  I really am an introvert, so have no idea how I ever managed to get up on a stage in front of an audience.

I have three amazing children

I know every mammy thinks her children are amazing and I am no different.

They are now three twenty-somethings, and without them I don’t think I would have made it this far. I might add, they are in no way like Lottie’s teenagers in The Missing Ones, but perhaps they helped me portray how teenagers speak and carry on!

I started writing The Missing Ones as a means of therapy.

Grief and loss are themes within the body of the book The Missing Ones. This stems from my personal experience. Losing someone you love, at a relatively young age, can be traumatic and stressful. This happened to me in 2009.  My strong, fit husband, at forty-nine years of age, developed an aggressive form of cancer and died three months from date of diagnosis. I didn’t know how to handle it, how to cope with the loss, and the physical and emotional empty spaces in my life. I had children to care for - they had to go to school, to be fed and nurtured, and their grief tended to. But I was floundering, drowning in a sea of the unknown.

My children and family became my mainstay but my strength of character and mental well-being suffered. I no longer had the ability to hold down my nine to five job. That part of my brain appeared to have died. I’m not a quitter but I had to, because I just couldn’t do it any longer.  Something had to give.

I began journaling. Every day, I wrote my morning pages, pouring out my anger and bitterness at the unfair hand I, and my family, had been dealt. At last I had found a means of releasing my grief. I started writing short stories, and from there it developed into writing a novel.

The rest as they say, is history!