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In Pictures: Meet the Portlaoise woman who is penning her way up the bestseller list

Portlaoise native Helen Cullen launched her debut novel ‘The Lost Letter’s of William Woolf’ recently.

Helen received a six-figure two book deal from publisher Micheal Joseph, who is a part of the Penguin Random House group of companies.

The launch took place in Dubray Books on Grafton Street, with Helen’s old colleague and friend Rick O’Shea leading the room in celebration of all things Helen.

Helen herself read a short excerpt from the novel, and gave a teary thank you to all her family and friends in attendance.

While currently residing in London, Helen regularly returns to visit family dotted all over county Laois and beyond.

Daughter of Frank and Margaret Cullen, she and her six elder siblings, Patricia, Mary, Lynda and twin brothers, Frank and Ger, grew up on Harper’s Lane Portlaoise.

Helen was a pupil in Scoil Bhríde NS, before moving to the Brigidine Convent Mountrath until her junior cert, after which she made the move to Scoíl Chríost Rí in Portlaoise for the rest of her schooling.

A decorated scholar, Helen holds a B.A. in Communications Studies from DCU, which she credits for the job she held in RTE for 7 years.

She also boasts an M.A. in Theatre Studies from University College Dublin and is currently completing an M.A. in English Literature at Brunel University.

Helen took a career break after 7 happy years spent in RTE and moved to London for a year, but when she met her own great love and man she would dedicate her first novel to, Demian Wieland, it became a permanent thing.

Demian hails from Sligo but holds roots i Germany. He is a musician, so the couple are no strangers to the arts.

Helen freelanced everywhere from the BBC to Times magazine while in London, before settling in a job with Google.

In 2015, she returned to Ireland with her partner for a year’s sabbatical on an organic farm in Sligo. Whilst there, Helen finished her novel while working as a freelance journalist and university lecturing in Dublin.

Helen told LaoisToday: “It was so wonderful to launch my book at home in Ireland and to have so many friends and family there to support me on that night. It really meant a lot to me, especially to see my parents, Frank and Margaret there, and the whole Cullen clan.

“So many people travelled up from Laois and I was so thrilled – you can always count on Laois to get behind you and I really appreciated the support so much.

“I’m really looking forward to coming to the Laois Leaves festival in November too. Thanks so much everyone.”

A ‘love letter to the power of words’, The Lost Letter’s of William Woolf is the story of a man who has devoted his life to solving mysteries hidden between the lines of undelivered letters, missing postcards and abandoned parcels.

William is in a marriage under strain, and begins to find solace in letters addressed to ‘My Great Love’, which begin to appear at the Lost Letter’s Depot where he works.

The books pays homage to a life lived and loved in both Dublin and London in a way only a true lover of both could attempt.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf was chosen by Rick O’Shea and Sinead Moriarty for the Easons Ireland #EasonMustReads summer campaign, and is one of Dubray books recommended reads for July.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf is in all good book stores now.

Get in touch with Helen on Twitter @wordsofhelen. 

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