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Christina McKenna  grew up in Draperstown, Northern Ireland. She attended the Belfast College of Art where she obtained an honours degree in Fine Art and studied postgraduate English at the University of Ulster. In 1986, she left Northern Ireland and spent a decade teaching abroad. Since then she has lived, worked and painted pictures in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Ecuador and Mexico.
McKenna is the seventh of nine children brought up on a farm in County Derry. Her love affair with the written word began in "a school-room of fear and foreboding" in the early 1970s when her English teacher placed Seamus Heaney's collection of poems "Door into the Dark" in her hands. She asserts that his poetry "opened a door in the fearful me and I took refuge in the wonder of his prose. When I met him on those pages at that tender age I simply knew that one day in the far future I would be a writer."
The chance to honour that pledge would not come until 2003 when she started work on her memoir, MY MOTHER WORE A YELLOW DRESS. To date she has written six books, three non-fiction titles and three novels.
- MY MOTHER WORE A YELLOW DRESS (2004 Neil Wilson Publishing, Glasgow, Scotland) charts her struggle to make sense of the hidebound Catholicism of her childhood, and how art and poetry freed her to follow a more spiritual path. In 2013 she took back the rights to this title and in the Spring of 2014 republished an updated version.
- THE DARK SACRAMENT (2006 Gill & Macmillan, Dublin) co-authored with her husband, David M. Kiely, contains nine contemporary cases of exorcism in Ireland. A special American edition was published in October 2007 by HarperOne, San Francisco. It contains additional material.
- 'IRELAND'S HAUNTED WOMEN (2010 Poolbeg Press, Dublin) is a collection of true-life ghost stories set in the Ireland of the present day. The cases range from the bizarre to the utterly chilling as Christina faithfully records the testimony of ten women visited by the paranormal. In contrast to other collections in the genre, all the cases are told here for the first time.
- THE MISREMEMBERED MAN her first novel, is set in rural Northern Ireland in 1974. It's a tragi-comic work, which charts the progress of a lonely farmer in his attempts to find a wife. All the while he is pursued by dark ghosts from a less-than-happy childhood.
The novel was rejected by every notable publisher in Ireland and the UK. "After forty rejections I stopped counting," says McKenna. As a last resort she decided to try her luck Stateside. "It was the same old story. Again I lost count of the number of houses who said 'no'. But my tireless agent at the time, Bill Contardi, would not give up and continued sending it out. We were down to the last two when, finally, a small house in Connecticut, the Toby Press, said 'yes'." In 2009 the hardback version was published.
The Toby Press ceased trading in 2010 and the novel might have sunk without trace had Amazon Encore not stepped in. They published the paperback version of the novel in May 2011.
Since 2011 THE MISREMEMBERED MAN has sold in the region of half a million copies, garnered over 3,000 reviews on Amazon, held the Number 1 slot in Literary Fiction on Amazon.com during the Spring of 2013, has been translated into German and Spanish, with Lithuanian, Norwegian and Korean translations in the pipeline. Contrary to press reports, the film rights to this book have not been sold and are still up for grabs.
Her second novel, THE DISENCHANTED WIDOW is again set in Tailorstown, the same fictional village as THE MISREMEMBERED MAN. It was published on 27 August 2013.
She has just recently completed work on her third. THE GODFORSAKEN DAUGHTER will be published on March 17, 2015 by Lake Union Publishing.
- O'Doherty, Cahir (18 September 2014). "A look at books: Travel, history and delicious Irish American history". IrishCentral. Retrieved 11 October 2014.