Andrea Mara

Official website

Human birthdays and book birth-days

Sun and showers and sun showers, school runs snaking in and out between parked cars, windows down, temperatures up, singing voices raised, tempers frayed. June is everywhere and we are exhausted. It’s time to wind down towards summer holidays, but at this time of year, it always feels like it’s ramping up instead. Not the homework, but the overwhelm. The sports days, the school tours, the sun cream, the school books. The vain hope that the shoes will last three more weeks. The countdown, the flaking out. The prayers for no homework, the shock at new projects.

The mini-world-cups, the search for camps, the school summer fair, the nights out that punctuate June – everyone catching up one last time before end of term. We have five family birthdays at this time of year too, which is an excuse for a big barbecue with a million burgers and a dash of red wine on a lazy June Saturday afternoon. There are presents to buy, cards to write, candles to light. Parties to host – the small family tea-party, the big family barbecue, the medium-sized party for friends, the night out because the husband is away on the actual birthday, and then another night out, because, well, the husband is away on the actual birthday.

And along with the birthdays and the barbecue, there’s the book. The book was published on June 6th (my birthday – did I mention my birthday?) and as I now know, a book publication date is a bit like a baby’s due date – it’s a date around which other things are hooked, an official date to hold on to, but nothing in particular actually happens on that day. Copies of the book can reach bookshops earlier or later than publication date, and you might only know this if you go into the same bookshop every day to check if your book is in there. (Who would do that I hear you ask? Who indeed…)

But as it happens, I did find my book in my local bookshop a couple of days before its official publication date, and got to take my first ever shelfie. There have been many surreal moments in the last few months, but seeing my own book on a real bookshop is probably up there with giving birth.

acting *casual* while sneaking a selfie in the shop

And then on my actual birthday, when I was all set to have a very normal day of school runs and solo-parenting, my husband caught me by surprise. He left for the airport at 4.45am, telling me there’d be a message about my present later.

When I got up, I found a print-out of my book cover stuck to the bathroom mirror, and a message about finding something downstairs. Then in the fridge I found another print-out, and another clue in the coffee machine.

There were pastries on the table, and more little photo-shopped clues on posters leading me to presents behind cushions, under tables, and in presses.

We were late for school, but the birthday that started out a bit ah sure it’s grand, I’m too old for birthdays anyway turned into Best. Birthday. Ever.

And then in the afternoon, because homework and lunch boxes don’t care about book birth-days or human birthdays, it was back to tables and spellings and endless toasted sandwiches – but with a sneaky chunk of Toblerone on the side.

And in the meantime, the book that’s a bit like a small bird trying to fly is slowly making its way onto shelves in bookshops around Ireland, and the feedback is coming in, and it’s surreal and wonderful and exciting and still a little bit petrifying, but mostly amazing. Thank you everyone for your support – as I’ve said in the acknowledgements in the book, without the likes and comments and shares from Office Mum readers over the last four years, blogging would never have evolved into anything at all, and certainly not into the birth of an actual book on an actual shelf. So thank you.

Andrea Mara The Other Side of the Wall
Trying to look authorly … Photograph: Nick Bradshaw


The Other Side of the Wall is available on Amazon  for Kindle and in paperback, and in all good bookshops – I’ve always wanted to say that!

(If you’d like to read it and can’t get it in your local bookshop, please do ask staff if they can order it – as a debut author, it can be a challenge to get into shops, and every request helps. Thank you!)





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