Love isn’t easy. Especially if you have to traverse the globe to find it. Such is the predicament that Cora Hendricks finds herself in. Cora is the heroine in Love in Row 27, the debut novel from Eithne Shortall. Cora finds herself playing willing matchmaker to the passengers on air flights around the world.
Books@One were proud to host Eithne for an evening of inquisition on all things flighty and lovely. Geraldine Mitchell talked to Eithne about writing her first book, combining her day job and her opus, as well as the depths of her research for this charming first novel.
Journalist for the Sunday Times and debut author, Eithne somehow managed to find time to drop into Books@One, Louisburgh, County Mayo to read from her wonderful novel.
The book takes places in the departure lounge of Heathrow airport where our main character Cora is attempting to escape her own love issues by meddling, in a lovely, match-maker way, in the lives of her passengers. Cora tries, on the basis of the information she has accrued and skimmed on her computer screen, to put all singletons together. With the help of flight attendant Nancy and George, all passengers destined for Row 27 are in with a chance of finding their perfect match.
The number of characters that flit through this book is staggering. What is even more remarkable is how Shortall gets the characters’ personalities and nuances just so. We all recognises the people she is describing in the book, such is the skill with which the author draws her main players out.
How did she approach writing her first novel?
Eithne works full time as a journalists, which posed a challenge for her creative project. After writing all day for her job, she had to come home in the evenings and sit down to composing her own project.
Separating her day job from her passionate personal pursuit must have been difficult. To ensure productivity and meeting of deadlines, Eithne took a three month break and headed off to London to concentrate on her book. There she carried out a lot of her research. Was her novel true to life?
In the audience at Books@One are two people who can attest to Shortall’s talent. An ex-airhostess and a P.R. Rep for Aer Lingus can attest that yes, Eithne did her homework correctly. The story set up is true to life. All sorts of shenanigans happen in airports!
Is she a matchmaker herself? By her own admission, yes, Eithne -guilty as charged.
What comes next for this prolific writer is anyone’s guess. In the throes of the next novel, Eithne had just enough time to sign copies of Love in Row 27. There are plenty available in the bookstore.
Love in Row 27 was our book club of the month for July. Check out our write up here. https://www.booksatone.ie/book-of-the-month
Look out for Eithne’s columns in the Sunday Times and keep your eyes peeled for her next book. We have no doubt that it is going to be brilliant.