Category: Archive

Gemma shines light into literary corners

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

For everyone else however, the name Gemma will soon be synonymous with more earthly pursuits – thanks to one woman.
Iowa native Trish O’Hare is the head of GemmaMedia, an independent company designed to publish Irish fiction and memoirs, as well as other cultural wares.
During her university career studying literature and medieval studies, Trish spent a year at Trinity College, Dublin. She says it lit the fires of her subsequent interest in Ireland.
“Both sides of my family are of Irish descent, going back to the famine. But I had some great teachers at Trinity who helped me enjoy reading about Irish history and writers, so I’ve had a taste for Ireland since then.”
Trish is a regular visitor to Dublin and it was an experience there that set her on the road to her own independent company.
“While visiting there a few years back, I was invited for a night out. I was told there was a Bostonian guy called Tony Glavin there who worked in publishing, so my friend’s plan was for us to meet. We did and had a great evening.
“He worked for New Island books, which I think is the one of the most innovative presses in Ireland. He eventually asked me to look at a manuscript, which is absolutely the worst thing you can hear, as you hate to reject your friends.
“But on the plane ride home I read it. It turned out to be “Are You Somebody,” by Nuala O’Faolain and I loved it.
“Because I knew people who knew people, I found an agent who got her a publisher. The book stayed on top of the New York Times best-seller list for over a year.
“A few times after that, I was able to find a sympathetic editor or publisher for books coming out of Ireland that were not seeing the light of day. But I was just doing it for friends, nothing more.” Said O’Hare.
“So I thought, what the heck. I knew a lot about publishing and the new technologies. There were these fantastic voices not getting to America, so I thought I could help them here.
A near 30-year veteran of the book industry, Trish started her career publishing textbooks, before moving west to try her hand at Jossey-Bass Publishing in California.
“I did all the international work, so I worked to develop the brand worldwide. After 12 years there I was tired and wanted to come back to Boston, because I have a lot of family here and I see it as my home.
“So for the last five years I was president of Nicholas Brealey Publishing, working to build a North American office for the company.
“But I kept coming back to having the chance to let Irish voices out that would otherwise have had a difficult time getting published. Books that were getting rave reviews elsewhere were taking years to get to America. So I thought I could close the gap, and that was the idea behind Gemma.”
In its first year of existence, GemmaMedia published six books of Irish short fiction, including a novel by Roddy Doyle, as well as Lola’s Luck, a memoir about American gypsy culture, which Trish says is about changing perceptions.

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