Caroline never imagined becoming million selling author
With 16 books under her belt and sales topping 1.3 million, Ferbane author Caroline Mitchell admits to having had many “pinch me” moments in her life since becoming a full-time author.
From being flown to New York for a books award ceremony to spotting one of her books in a local bookshop when she was on a family holiday in Italy, her life has been a whirlwind over the past five years since she gave up her job as a detective to concentrate on her writing.
Even though she always loved writing, Caroline Mitchell says she “never dreamed” that she would become a million-selling author when she was growing up in her family home in Gallen, Ferbane.
The daughter of Niall and the late Bridie Mitchell, she says she was “always a bit of a daydreamer at school” and didn’t work as hard at her studies as she should have done.
“I suppose I never really had the confidence to believe that I could do a whole lot with my life, I didn’t have high expectations,” she candidly admits.
“My middle name in Ferbane Community College was ‘daydreamer’ and the teachers used to put it on my yearly report cards, so I suppose I always lived somewhere outside my own head when I was growing up,” she says.
Caroline laughs when she recalls how she recently sent a message to the former Principal of Ferbane Community College, Bernard Quigley, on Facebook to say that all those years of daydreaming had paid off!
“He was delighted to hear from me and was very pleased at my success,” she says.
Blessed with a very strong work ethic (which she says she inherited from her father) Caroline Mitchell moved to the UK in 2003 when she met and married Neil Coughlan, whose father, Patrick, is a native of Portarlington.
Having met Neil in Ferbane, when he came over from the UK to open a factory, Caroline Mitchell firmly believes that moving to the UK was “the turning point” in her life.
“I think travel broadens your horizons and it only when I moved to the UK that I think I began to get the confidence to believe in myself.”
That confidence led her to join the Essex police force in 2007 where she progressed to detective level, specialising in dealing with case of rape, serious sexual assault and domestic abuse.
“I couldn’t have joined the Irish police force because I didn’t meet the height requirement at the time, and I didn’t have Irish either,” she points out.
With a one hour daily commute to work by train, Caroline Mitchell says she armed herself with her laptop and began to write on the train - and that was the start of her journey to becoming an international best-selling crime author!
“I was getting up at 5.30am, and working 12 hour days, often in very highly-charged and stressful situations, and I had four small kids at home, so if I could find time to write then, I firmly believe anybody can find the time,” she says.
Unlike a lot of writers who need a calm environment, Caroline Mitchell says she can “write anywhere” once she has her laptop, but she didn’t get her big break as a writer until 2016 when she was signed by publishers, Thomas and Mercer, so she gave up the day job to become a full-time author.
Her latest book 'The Village' is due for publication on January 25, and one of her previous crime thrillers, 'Truth and Lies' which is based on the notorious case of Fred and Rosemary West, was a New York Times Number One bestseller and has been optioned for TV.
Caroline Mitchell’s previous job as a detective has informed a lot of her crime writing, and her books have been sold worldwide and translated into numerous languages.
“I get videos and messages from all over the world from people who have read my crime books and even still I still find it hard to get my head around it, to be honest” she says.
The ultimate “pinch me” moment for the Ferbane author was when one of her books was shortlisted for an award at the ‘ThrillerFest’ Book Awards in New York and she found herself sitting beside Game of Thrones writer, George R.R. Martin.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was almost surreal.”
Her four children, Paul, Aoife, Jessica and Benjamin, who range in age from 28 to 16, take their mum’s worldwide success in their stride, but one regret that Caroline Mitchell has is that her own mother, Bridie, never got to share in her daughter’s success.
“Mam was always so proud of me, but she passed away in 2014, so she never got to see my books being published, and I know she would have been so happy and would have loved every minute of it.”
Her Dad, Niall, who was a fomer lock-keeper in Rahan, is a resident of Mucklagh Nursing Home, while one of her sisters, Ann, currently lives in the Mitchell family home in Gallen, from where she works as a mixed media artist.
Her other siblings are Louise, who lives in Dublin and also works as an artist, Bridie, who has special needs, and is a resident of St Anne’s Residential Services in Roscrea and Robert who lives in Finland.
Caroline is a regular visitor to Ferbane and the town even featured in one of her books, 'The Perfect Mother'. S
he is based with her husband and family in the picturesque seaside town of Frinton-on-Sea in Essex from where she writes roughly 2,000 words a day at her home office, and publishes two books a year.
Her advice to budding writers is to “work hard, be positive and stay motivated.”
She points out that nobody expects to join a gym and start off by lifiting the heaviest weights.
“The same law applies to writing – just start and commit to writing every single day, if I could do it working 12 hour days and with four small kids, anybody can do it.”