Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 18847
date submitted 15.10.2009
date updated 05.12.2010
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Comedy
classification: universal

Belfast Girls

Gerry McCullough

Belfast Girls NOW available on in Kindle edition & NOW in paperback, also!!

Check out or Facebook fan page for more info.


'Belfast Girls' is the story of three girls - Sheila, Phil and Mary - growing up into the new emerging post-conflict Belfast of money, drugs, high fashion and crime; and of their lives and loves.

Sheila, a supermodel, is kidnapped. Phil is sent to prison. Mary, surviving a drug overdose, has a spiritual awakening.

It is also the story of the men who matter to them -

John Branagh, former candidate for the priesthood, a modern Darcy, someone to love or hate. Will he and Sheila ever get together? Davy Hagan, drug dealer, 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'. Is Phil also mad to have anything to do with him?

Although from different religious backgrounds, starting off as childhood friends, the girls manage to hold on to that friendship in spite of everything.

A book about contemporary Ireland and modern life. A book which both men and women can enjoy - thriller, romance, comedy, drama - and much more ....

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belfast, boyfriends, drugs, dublin, gangs, gangwar, god, kidnapping, love, model, new york, overdose, self-discovery, sex, shooting

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HarperCollins Wrote

Set in contemporary Ireland, BELFAST GIRLS is the tale of three friends who become involved in a crime case when one of them, a model, is kidnapped. Joining in the hunt is the victim’s ex-boyfriend, a television reporter who did not leave their relationship on good terms. While the novel begins with the elements of a thriller, this is also a character-driven story about the three women, their relationships with men and each other, and how they became who they are today. The setting is unusual but intriguing to American audiences, who might not know much about the political situation in Ireland.

For the most part the writing flows smoothly, although the scenes are often short and take place over a number of years. The prologue is fast paced and full of action, bringing the reader right into the story. But the main strength of the writing is the care and detail that is taken with the female characters’ lives, Sheila in particular. The trajectory of her ascending life contrasts nicely with that of her friend Phil, who does not seem to have made the best choices. While Mary seems like a less-developed character at the moment, it sounds like she has the potential to become a good foil to the other two.

The setting is interesting, but it seems difficult to place this book in time, despite the cue of 1993. Some of this has to do with the old-fashioned quality of the writing, which makes the women’s childhood in the early 90s sound like it could have taken place earlier. Also, it’s not clear if there is a narrative arc to the background chapters. Is the information provided within simply there for character-building, or does it have relevance to the present-day plot?

My main concern is that there is not a clear audience for this book. The title and the description of three women friends in Ireland triggers thoughts of Maeve Binchy. However, the mystery elements suggest Irish crime novels such as those by Declan Hughes. Right now the prologue makes the book sound like it will be a thriller, while the subsequent chapters hint toward a quieter, character-driven story. Unfortunately, readers are going to be confused.

I think what you, the author, need to do is decide how you want this book to be marketed: is this women’s fiction or mystery/suspense? If the intention is to make it women’s fiction, then the prologue needs to be changed or toned down. If it is to turn this into a mystery, then the background needs to woven into the present-day and have direct bearing on who kidnapped Sheila. It sounds to me like this novel has the most potential as mystery/suspense.

paulette wrote 1445 days ago

One of the most important aspects for readers........real characters, personally if characters haven't become real to me by the end of the first chapter, I won't waste precious time reading the rest of the book.
However, I am looking forward to reading Belfast Girls cover to cover !

Good Luck

Miss Wells wrote 1567 days ago

Begins with a clever inversion – outside is secretive and silent, inside is bustling and noisy. This immediately conveys a kind of tense eeriness as if there’s something amiss in the natural order of things. Then the atmosphere of bubbly frivolity is done well; the narcissism in front of mirrors. I don’t mind at all the jumps in setting – though I expect some will tell you off. Tell us what we need to know and then move on – that’s my philosophy of writing. Long laboured detailed descriptions belong to the world before film was invented as far as I’m concerned, unless they are part of the book’s form and not just an over-indulgent pandering to the reader.
The second chapter you settle down and begin to assemble the building blocks of the story. Great job of winning us over to Sheila, and the bond with Gerry is achieved cleverly with a brief exchange of dialogue. There’s more heart in this chapter, more vitality which is all to the good as a prologue ought to be a somewhat dispassionate building of the stage on which the characters are to act. The bonfire is another clever device. It increases our concern for the innocence of Sheila – especially later when we see even the boys almost her age have been infected with the unthinking aggressive nature of the times. And of course our intrigue as to how this innocent girl became a model is growing.

T Mackenzie wrote 1554 days ago

This is truly a book about Ireland itself, not just friendship, love and suspense, as your pitch suggests. In that way, your pitch does not do the book justice – it is true literary fiction, not just fiction. It has a VERY wide range of appeal.
Seamless intro of major characters, the fleshing out/explanation/background just the right balance, touch. You cover so much ground in that first chapter, effortlessly.
The swift, brutal injection of action so soon into the story works so well. HAD to turn the page. . .no going back, read the whole thing, which was as good, if not better, even, than the promise shown in the first chapter.
So backed. Your writing, your pace, just about flawless. Looking forward to reading the rest.

MarkRTrost wrote 1545 days ago

You have a manner with words that moves the eye around each description. I can feel your characters. I can hear them speak. Your atmosphere is tangible. I think that is so difficult. I congratulate you on it.

Most people misuse adverbs and adjectives and so they merely recreate clichés. And because the reader can’t engage on an emotional level (I can’t feel what the writer tells me his / her created character is feeling) so the reader engages on a familial level. And I mean familial as in: we identify because the behavior is so apparent in a friend or family member that we take the characteristic as a given. We identify with the rote. And so the writer wrote rote.

Yet when a writer takes the care to add the emotional, societal, and physical atmosphere through adverbs (specifically) and adjectives (generically) the reader can engage on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level. And then you have art.

You provide that atmosphere. It’s difficult. It’s an achievement.

Good for you. I hope your novel does well.

Mark R. Trost “Post Marked”

Stark Silvercoin wrote 1069 days ago

Belfast Girls is a lovingly written novel that centers around the lives of three girls growing up in Ireland. But this isn’t the green pastures and fluffy white sheep you see as a tourist when you visit. No, this is set on the mean streets of Belfast.

Author Gerry McCullough has given us a perfect look at how a character-driven novel is written. Each of the three main characters is vastly different, but all have likable traits and it’s totally believable that they get along as adults having grown up together.

It’s easy to see why McCullough was offered a publishing contract based on her descriptions of the setting. She has the ability to pull us right down to street level in her story. I feel like I’ve been to Belfast, walked its back alleys and seen the harsh glow of its streetlights. And she uses that talent to showcase the characters too. I almost think of Sheila, Phil and Mary as friends. I know how each of them talks, how they think and what they like. I think Phil is my favorite, but not by much.

I feel bad that I missed Belfast Girl’s run up to the desk here. But I loved the sample chapters so much, I just went out and bought the Kindle edition. I wish McCullough every success. As a debut novel, Belfast Girl’s is stellar.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

Eunice Attwood wrote 1309 days ago

A fascinating read. Believable characters, and a well thought out story line. Happy to back. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

SusieGulick wrote 1331 days ago

You are totally fantastic, Gerry! :) How can I ever thank you enough for backing my 2 memoir books? :)
God bless you. :) Love, Susie :)

Kate Buchanan wrote 1389 days ago

I love a good Irish story - have it on my watchlist for now - Kate

name falied moderation wrote 1415 days ago

Very good read Gerry, colorful characters and engaging story line. Not what I expected when I read your pitch, much more to the book. CONGRATS on a well crafted book You readers will be wide as this book has great appeal. BACKED. I would really appreciate you reading some of my book, it is totally different and genre different however this is the joy of this site. BEST of luck again Gerry
The Letter

gillyflower wrote 1420 days ago


Robert Sherwood wrote 1421 days ago

this is fantastic. I am backing this book for sure. Please take a look at my book, I think you will like it.

Vanessa Darnleigh wrote 1431 days ago

Great to come across another writer from the oul sod. Smooth and effortless with great dialogue and descriptive detail...just my pint of Guinness!
Good luck

villette wrote 1433 days ago

I enjoyed the first chapter, and found it very descriptive and interesting.

gillyflower wrote 1435 days ago

Thanks, everyone, for your support and comments. I'm really grateful to everyone who supported me and brought me to my current position with a gold star. You're great!
Now that the book has gone to Harper Collins to be read, I really don't need either backing or comments any more, so please don't be wasting your valuable time by continuing to do this, as quite a few people new to Authonomy have done. I'm unlikely to be on the site, except for a very occasional quick check in, and I can't guarantee to return either. In fact, it would be wise to assume that I won't.
I've already left a message about this on my profile, but this is just an extra way of letting new members of the site know.
All the best,

Michael Polansky wrote 1435 days ago

After reading your first chapter, I discovered something that needs to be addressed ASAP. It's called TRANSTITION.
This is where you shift from one scene to another or to another character. I was getting confused even though your describing of things, etc, is excellent. To correct this problem, start a new chapter and now the confusion will cease. If the new scene is small, a paragraph perhaps, draw a line accross the page to show transtition and another line to end that scene. Of course you must go back to the original scene.
Hopefully this makes sense.
Lots of luck on your novel
Michael Polansky

Michael Polansky wrote 1435 days ago

After reading your first chapter, I discovered something that needs to be addressed ASAP. It's called TRANSTITION.
This is where you shift from one scene to another or to another character. I was getting confused even though your describing of things, etc, is excellent. To correct this problem, start a new chapter and now the confusion will cease. If the new scene is small, a paragraph perhaps, draw a line accross the page to show transtition and another line to end that scene. Of course you must go back to the original scene.
Hopefully this makes sense.
Lots of luck on your novel
Michael Polansky

C.I. Crenshaw wrote 1439 days ago

I enjoyed this chapter very much and look forward to the rest of the story :) Well done!

Bamboo Promise wrote 1439 days ago

Please le me know what do they say?

paulette wrote 1445 days ago

One of the most important aspects for readers........real characters, personally if characters haven't become real to me by the end of the first chapter, I won't waste precious time reading the rest of the book.
However, I am looking forward to reading Belfast Girls cover to cover !

Good Luck

Simon Law wrote 1446 days ago

Good on you.
Always thought your book deserved ...
Been away from a while so glad that you have made it through the waters.
Simon Law

D.C. Grace wrote 1447 days ago

I love the Irish flavor and the story-telling. Very lovely! I wish you well with being reviewed by Harpers, your work certainly deserves it! If you get a chance, I would love to hear your comments on my piece.
Write on! :)
D.C. Grace
The Sacred Oath

LRM wrote 1448 days ago

Congrats, Gerry!
Finding Beth

Pete M wrote 1448 days ago

Congrats, Gerry! Well done. I look forward to a glowing review.

Mark B. McCaffery wrote 1448 days ago

Congratulations on being selected for review. I read a few of the opening chapters. Certainly you paint a vivid picture with words and being Irish I could relate very easily to the dialogue and characters. Yet I had a "strange" view regarding your book. It felt like a "slow burner" in the sense that it would suit people (the majority) who like to gradually "get into" a book. There are plenty of hooks and characterisation to engage readers eg Sheila's interest in the guy who wants to be a priest ,John. The slight problem for an impatient person like me is that I prefer "sharper" writing and I honestly believe that your lovely prose might benefit from more crisp/succinct sentences. This might make it "edgier" but perhaps it would lose something in the process. I'm not sure! Gerry, I'm trying to be helpful here and the fact that you are being reviewed means that you are doing something right but I have to give an honest view, especially as I would like you to "maximize" the interest in Belfast Girls. The title is great and the writing as I said, is engaging but you can improve it still further!

Congratulations again


eloraine wrote 1448 days ago

You deserve it Gerry, good luck. E.Loraine

Lynne Ellison wrote 1448 days ago

interesting insights into Northern Irish life

gilbertmartin wrote 1448 days ago

congrats ! Finally :)

FMKnight wrote 1449 days ago

Gerry you did it! So what did they say???

Elizabeth Wolfe wrote 1449 days ago

Congratulations! And best of luck with the editorial board - I hope it leads to publication for you.

Elizabeth Wolfe (Memories of Glory)

Sandra Hamer wrote 1449 days ago


Bamboo Promise wrote 1449 days ago


Acorok wrote 1449 days ago

Hello, Gerry.

The short pitch was a bit abbrassive, but I'm wordy and hell, you've actually explained a lot in a short time, even if it doesn't quite marry to the synopsis.

I'm glad to help out and back this book, as I like your presentation, it's well written and your characters are engaging. I love your names - Fat Barney!? It was fluid reading and nicely paced. It also delivered the humour promised.

I hope your place is secured and good luck with it.

Kind regards


S.C. Thompson wrote 1449 days ago

Engaging! A great opening set piece, aglitter with high fashion . . . and intrigue most foul! "Belfast Girls" reveals with insight nuanced characters struggling with contemporary challenges as the gritty plot unfolds. Backed, of course.
(Viene La Tormenta)

SunShyne wrote 1449 days ago

Gerry, I really like the premise of your book, it's very catchy and the speech is intriguing. keep up the good work. :)
Adair (Don't Forget)

Rhornud wrote 1449 days ago

Hey, just letting you know that you are most definitely backed. I've really enjoyed your opening chapters. The prologue in the fashion show have a great attitude in the writing that just fits so well.
Then kicking the story of from her childhood! Excellent. I'm loving how this girl is viewing the world and seeing where all her attitudes come from.
I'm going to keep reading this one. Well done - I'm hooked!

blond girl wrote 1449 days ago

Wima asked me to read your bok -Its excellent I'm so pleased to back someone whoes made it to number 5 only 24 hours to go?

Blonde Girl

Cherokeeknight wrote 1449 days ago

I find the book interesting and well written. A story unlike what I usually read to be for sure. A few minor glitches but nothing that really hinders the read. A little fine tuned edit will take out the problems I'm sure. You don't need me telling you how to do what you have already proven you know how to do. Does that make sense? I hope so. It is very late and my eyes are starting to sag. So in closing let me say I find it backable to say the least and have done just that.

celticfiddle wrote 1450 days ago

Congratulations on the book. Nice to have the Irish background in there too.

jenlynn wrote 1450 days ago

Hey - just put you on my bookshelf...I'll email my friend Solo1 as well..good luck here at the end!!! We are cheering for you! Jen (Bridges)

ian_fleming wrote 1450 days ago

Hi Gerry,

I only heard about the authonomy website a few weeks ago when I attended the John Hewitt Spring Festival, also I'm a long-standing acquaintance of Bill Jeffries. This morning I heard you speaking on the Gerry Anderson Radio Show, and that inspired me to check out your book on the site. I'll come back to you with further comments when I get to read more of your book - but I've enjoyed what I've read so far and hope that it gets read by HarperCollins.

Regards Ian

Roger Thurling wrote 1450 days ago

Gerry ... I'm returning to your book after a week, discovering that though I read and backed it, I didn't comment. Only time for short comments now, perhaps - you don't need advice as to how to write a book.
Let's just say it then; this is one that should be put on paper now, so that people can walk in and pick it up in their local bookshop. Best of luck, Gerry; I hope that every little bit helps.

HarrietG wrote 1450 days ago

Great story. Your writing is fluid and easy to read but think about point of view - it dances about all over the place within a scene. Fine to tell it from the viewpoint of several main characters but if the current pov character is Sheila (for example) she shouldn't be able to see her red gold hair falling over her shoulder. Also lots of telling us what happened over a period of time rather than focusing attention on a few key scenes to show us.

Just my opinion - congratulations on rising so high, and getting your grant. Good luck with the editors.

Jim H wrote 1450 days ago


I wasn't too sure about this when I read the prologue, which seemed me to be mainly a parade of characters. However I went on to read the first 4 chapters and got drawn into the story, which cracks on at a good pace. I think it's worth backing.

Please don't feel compelled to back my own effort (Devil's Brew) simply because of my support for your book. If, however, you do happen to have a look at it and decide it is worth backing on its merits, I wouldn't be upset.

Jim H

Dan Hardy wrote 1450 days ago

Interesting story with good character development and just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Well done! Backed.

Ismay wrote 1450 days ago

I'm terribly sorry, I mixed up your book with another authors! But anyway, I like the pitch, it sounds like an epic, absorbing saga, and the characters, dialogue and setting of the first chapter add to this impression. I didn't have time to read on, sorry, but it deserves backing.

CJ Cronin wrote 1450 days ago

It's been a while since I read this book, but I'll say as I look back I still think this is a great one. The story is moved along a nice clip: depictions of the characters set against an Irish cultural background, blend well with the tone of the narrations. Quite on the surface, something uneasy is lurking underneath and taking readers to move on. Backed.

Rich Feitelberg wrote 1451 days ago


sirhardbody wrote 1452 days ago

Took a look at tyour book and was drawn in quickly.
that is important. The narration is magnificent. I fell like I can see each scene vividly and understand the surroundings. I really liked the way you switch between the thoughts of Sheila, John Branagh and Montgomery Speers. Belfast Girls places the reader square in the middle of a city torn by differences. Great Story telling backed.

Taliesin wrote 1452 days ago

Very interesting! Readers love reading about Ireland in Australia. I quite enjoyed the first chapter. I don't have much time but i will try and read more.

tomkepler wrote 1452 days ago

I admire how you move from character to character. I find in the three novels I've written that I tend to stick to one character. You have three in the first chapter! And the background--interesting yet "everyday"--provides a perfect set-up for the exciting end of the chapter.

I have backed Belfast Girls--and hope to read more to analyze your multi-character point of view.

Tom Kepler
The Stone Dragon

Elizabeth Wolfe wrote 1452 days ago

I like the "Now what?" ending to the pitch. It leaves me wondering if there could possibly be more hardship than what's already described in the pitch. Makes me want to read it. Best of luck in the rankings. - Elizabeth Wolfe

Kaicee wrote 1452 days ago

I like the time swap after the first chapter, it has a great effect on hooking the readers. I laughed out loud about the rabbit and it's mysterious disease, it's something that people would actually tell their children haha. I really like this and I'm going to keep reading, backed with pleasure :)


Njoy14u wrote 1453 days ago

Gerry, I was drawn in easily by the well written flow of the dialog. It has a wide range of appeal.
The book has a good pace and has a narative that introduces the main characters quickly.
The story captures important aspects of Northern Ireland, the children, unaware of religious difference until school. I love the tension between the girls.
Good luck I see this one going places beyond here!

Kristen Stone wrote 1453 days ago

I was captivated. This is another world to me and you painted it in a way that took me there. I wanted to continue and want to know what happens in the end. Who are these people who come into the fashion show with guns? Will there be a happy ending? I hope this does well. Definitely backed.
Kristen Stone
Kianda Mala - The Monkey Man