Big Girl, Small Town goes into a 3rd reprint

Times are challenging and it’s been a tough couple of weeks. It’s not been easy coming to terms with going into isolation to avoid catching covid-19 (underlying health conditions put me at high risk of being a severe case). Though my kids love being home schooled and it’s been a joy seeing more of them, it’s been a lot of extra work to have them home all day. I’m worried about vulnerable friends and relatives in the UK, Ireland and France. And I’ve been incredibly sad to hear that the lovely book events I’d been asked to attend have all been cancelled. 

But earlier this week my editor told me that Big Girl, Small Town has gone into its third reprint! That means the first edition has sold out (though you can pick up the odd copy here and there) and the second edition has disappeared from the publisher’s warehouse and is out there in the wild. The third edition is now being printed to meet demand. 

This is an incredible achievement for a debut novel in its first month – a month where the world has changed forever. So I want to thank absolutely everyone who has bought the book, or shared a review on AmazonGoodreads or Waterstones, or contacted me to say Majella made you laugh out loud, shed a wee tear, or eat a big dirty sausage supper.  

Reading is more important than ever right now. It reduces stress and is clinically proven to:

decrease blood pressure, lower heart rate, and reduce stress to significant degrees. According to a 2009 study at the University of Sussex, stress is reduced up to 68% just by reading! Only six minutes of reading can slow down the heart rate and improve overall health

World Literacy Foundation

Not all reading will reduce stress. Binge reading the news right now makes me more anxious and less able to cope. So I recommend books.

If you’d like to read Big Girl, Small Town, or gift a copy to a friend, you can get the book from one of these independent shops: 
@gutterbookshop have signed 1st editions for sale 
@KennysBookshop offer free shipping on Big Girl, Small Town
@DubrayBooks – have copies in stock

You can also order from WaterstonesEasons and WH Smith.

You can visit Amazon for the hardbackebook and audible version (narrated by Nicola Coughlan – Clare from Derry Girls).

And don’t forget BBC Sounds are broadcasting the abridged version (also read by Nicola Coughlan).

I’m not the only debut author with a book coming out at a tough time. If you’d like to support new authors, check out this list (not exhaustive! – and ping me with your recommendations or if you’d like to be added):




Big Girl, Small Town abridged BBC Sounds series

The BBC chose to record Big Girl, Small Town as an abridged BBC Sounds audiobook series. Not only is this quite the honour for a debut book, but they managed to secure Nicola Coughlan to record this version. I got to speak with the series producer Ciaran Bermingham while I was over in London for my Radio 4 interview, and he explained to me it was quite the feat to produce a version of Big Girl, Small Town that was true to Majella’s voice, while complying with BBC Sounds – a task completed by professional abridger, Sara Davies. You can listen here and judge the results for yourself (spoiler: I’m pretty pleased – and so was Nicola Coughlan).

Nicola Coughlan AKA Clare from Derry Girls reads Big Girl, Small Town

More great reviews of Big Girl, Small Town

Delighted with the reviews so far for Big Girl, Small Town!

Northern Ireland is currently producing more exceptional writers per square inch than possibly anywhere else . . . Michelle Gallen will most certainly earn her place in the honours list. Big Girl, Small Town is even funnier than Derry Girls, while being just as fraught as Anna Burns’s Booker Prize winner

Sunday Independent

What a voice: I felt as though I knew Majella intimately by the end . . . Big Girl, Small Town is a darkly hilarious novel about small-town life, which manages to be wildly entertaining despite being mostly set in a chip shop – a fine place in which to loiter with such a filthy, funny, clever companion


A winning evocation of a small Irish community whose people burst from its pages. Engaging and satisfying

Daily Mail

Captivating . . . a confident debut with a very memorable protagonist in Majella

Irish Times


Irish Examiner

Darkly funny

Mail on Sunday

Featured in the Irish Independent

I was really worried about how I came across when I spoke with Maggie Armstrong from the Irish Independent, in a long interview that I barrelled through on my fifth cup of coffee. I ended up sick in bed for a few days after (unrelated to Maggie’s deft interviewing skills – I was just coming down with something). I shouldn’t have worried. Maggie’s feature is insightful and kind. You can read it in full here.

Big Girl, Small Town – early reviews are good

It’s that fingernail biting time when early reviews are starting to come in…but so far so good!

[A] small masterpiece . . . Gallen’s observations are brilliantly accurate, the dialogue and the experiences utterly authentic
Digital Fix

A winning evocation of a small Irish community whose people burst from its pages. Engaging and satisfying
Daily Mail

You can preorder the audiobook, ebook or hardback on Amazon or a real live book from real live people in bookshops like the following:

Gutter bookshop
No Alibis

Winter Debut Fiction Showcase: Deepa Anappara, Tomasz Jedrowski & me

I had a blast at the Waterstones Winter Debut Fiction Showcase where I shared the fancy chairs with Deepa Anappara and Tomasz Jedrowski. The event was elegantly compered by literary critic and Bitch Lit host Lucy Scholes. There was wine before, questions and answers during and my very first book signing after.

You can get Deepa’s wonderful book Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line here.

And Tomasz’s atmospheric book Swimming in the Dark is available here.

Derry Girl Nicola Coughlan to read Big Girl, Small Town

And not just for fun – Nicola Coughlan agreed to voice the unabridged audiobook of Big Girl, Small Town! The news was announced by the Bookseller today. I have to say, my family – who weren’t terribly moved by the idea of me being published – are suddenly interested in my book. And proud! And if that wasn’t enough for one day, Nicola herself tweeted that she ‘loved’ my writing…!

You can listen to a sample here.