We are very sad to announce the death of our author, Gretta Mulrooney. She will be missed by her many readers as well as by everyone lucky enough to work with her at Joffe Books. She was a brilliant writer who dazzled both in psychological insight and at the level of the sentence. She was a wonderful person who brought laughter and warmth wherever she went.
Gretta Mulrooney (1952–2023) was born in London to Irish parents, Hugh and Peg. She took a degree in English at the University of Ulster, Derry, and lived for a few years in Dublin, working various jobs. Gretta returned to England to teach before taking up social work and started writing in her thirties, publishing for children and young adults with Poolbeg Press, Dublin. She was commissioned by BBC Radio Four, who broadcast her short stories. These were followed by five novels of literary fiction, published by HarperCollins, Robert Hale and 4th Estate. The first of these, Araby, gained critical acclaim for its accurately observed characters and pathos. Margaret Forster wrote, ‘I loved it. It’s such a sweet story, without being in the least sentimental. There are moments when the reader is absolutely there, so acute is this novelist’s ear and eye.’
It was when Gretta began working with Joffe Books in 2015 that her focus moved to crime fiction and psychological thrillers, which had long been her passion. She developed Tyrone Swift, a detective who appeared in a series of books, in parallel with DI Siv Drummond in another series. Tyrone allowed her to explore a character with a complicated personal life, while Siv is grieving and lonely — a fighter, but smart. She introduced a new character with Daisy Moore. These books excited her, and, like many authors, she spoke through her protagonists. Her commitment to both character and plot was testament to her skill as a writer.
Gretta died suddenly but peacefully in January 2023. She leaves behind four siblings — Mary, Jim, Kath and Hugh — who, in her own words, were her very own diaspora. The space she leaves behind is mischief-shaped, adventurous and caring. Gretta loved a stomp along the coast (but never beaches) and spent time with family in Ireland, Wales and Cornwall. She was acutely perceptive in her understanding of people and never lost her good sense of fun. With her son, Darragh, she was a part of every corner of a large and scattered family.
Gretta — never Margaret — was a remarkable person; she shaped so many lives for the good and she will be much missed. To use her own words, spoken by Tyrone Swift, “May you live as long as you want to, and want to as long as you live . . .”