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Making headlines herself

Cecelia Ahern's dad is Ireland's prime minister. She's a popular novelist.

March 04, 2004|Shawn Pogatchnik | Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland — In Ireland, a first-time author is reaping bucketfuls of publicity, six-figure deals and Hollywood interest for her new tear-jerker novel. She's also the prime minister's daughter.

Cecelia Ahern, 22, who recently spent time signing newly minted copies of "PS, I Love You," for several hundred fans at a Dublin bookstore, has rebuffed claims that her success is due to the high profile of her father, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

"I think it's very flattering for Dad, actually, to think he has all this influence with Hollywood and all over the world," she said.

She may have a point. The novel has already proved exceptionally attractive to publishers in countries where, as the young author puts it, "the reaction is, 'Bertie who?' "

"PS, I Love You" has been snapped up by publishers in 23 countries, including a $1-million deal with Hyperion Books. Hollywood producer Wendy Finerman, who shared an Academy Award in 1994 for "Forrest Gump," bought the film rights for $100,000.

Ahern has made enough money, she says, to buy her first laptop and move out of her mother's house.

The author's lineage is the major talking point in Dublin, where an initial print run of 50,000 copies has made "PS, I Love You" an immediate bestseller.

The novel tells the story of Holly, a 30-year-old Dubliner whose husband, Gerry, dies unexpectedly of a brain tumor. Holly discovers he has left her 10 sealed envelopes containing monthly tasks Holly must complete or challenges she must face, each designed to help her come to grips with her grief and embrace life again.

Reviews have been mixed, with some critics quoting particularly wooden bits of dialogue. But Ahern said her political pedigree means she's tough enough to take it -- and she's already written her second novel.

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