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Success story as Irish mum lands €684,000 book deal

An Irish mother-of-two is the envy of writers around the world after she landed a two-book deal worth €684,000.

Kathleen MacMahon, a journalist on RTE's foreign news desk, was last night toasting her new-found success with friends and family at her home in Irishtown, Dublin.

Her first published book, 'So This is How It Ends', became a sensation among publishing professionals at London Book Week last week.

Kathleen admits literature may be in the blood as writer Mary Lavin, who penned 20 books of short stories and two novels, was her grandmother.

'So This is How It Ends', dubbed a love story for our times, follows American Bruno Boylan, a banker who loses his job with Lehman Brothers in 2008. The main character comes to Ireland looking for his ancestors a month before the election between Barack Obama and John McCain.

"He decides he will stay in Ireland until the election and if Obama wins, he will go back. If McCain wins, he will stay. In the course of that month he meets a young Irish girl who is a cousin of his and the story is a love story," Ms MacMahon said last night.

"It is set in the middle of the recession and it is the story of two people who start to realise at a strange time in their lives -- she is an out-of-work architect, he has just lost his job as a banker -- what are the important things in life."

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It is the second book that the author has written but the first to be published.

While her first book, 'The Sixth Victim', was good enough to secure her the services of agent Marianne Gunn O'Connor, it did not get published and she now describes it as a "near miss".

"After that I sat down and wrote another one and that is the one that was out on submission that got me this deal now," Ms MacMahon said.

Declaring her successful new work to be about "the good things in life -- swimming, Bruce Springsteen, dogs and children" -- she had no hand or part in the successful deal.

"It (the book) was completed after two years' writing and I told her (Ms Gunn O'Connor) to tell me nothing about the dealing," she said. "Literally, the first thing I heard was when she rang me on Friday and told me she had sold it."

The deal has been struck between publisher Little, Brown in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the United States.

Under the agreement for this book and the next one she writes, she will receive ?570,000. If her first book is made into a film, she will receive an additional ?114,000.

Helping Ms MacMahon celebrate her success were husband Mark Hurley and twin nine-year-old girls Lucy and Clara.

"It is fantastic. I have got brain freeze and the rest of my body is tingling. It is unbelievable. You don't expect something like this," she said.

"Somebody asked me today what currency it (the deal) was in and I didn't know. I have just been busy drinking champagne."

Ms MacMahon has been working in RTE since 1996 but said she hasn't "even thought" about whether she will stick with the national broadcaster following her new success.

It is expected that the book will be published next year.

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