One of our favourite interviews yet!
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I so want to fib here, but I'll be honest. My average writing day involves far too much noodling about on the internet, far too much tea drinking, far too much Jeremy Kyle and far too much looking out of the window 'thinking'. Somehow, in amongst these various activities, I write. I take my daughter to school, then return to have breakfast and do what my Mum used to call 'putting the house to rights' i.e. make beds, beat cushions, throw things in the dishwasher. Then I settle down at my laptop. I have a study at the back of the house, tiny but pretty, and I'm usually in situ by 10 or thereabouts. I write all day. It's as simple as that. Some days I have to shop, or meet a friend, or go to town for publishing-y reasons, but mostly I just write and write and write. It's how a book gets done.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I wouldn't call it inspiration, but I do tend to cast my male love interest in my head. In my latest book, Why Do We Have To Live With Men?, I fashioned Will in to a convincing copy of Matthew MacFadyen. The character of Hugo, an older, rakish man, had a look of Bill Nighy. In the book I'm working on now, the male lead isn't based on anybody famous. Having sunday lunch at my best friend's house the other day, I realised my male love interest was her husband, Steve. I went a bit red then confessed. He was flattered, I think. And just a little scared.
What is your favourite Irish Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
The Queen, nay Empress, of Irish fiction is Edna O'Brien. She manages to combine earthy poetry with compelling human characters who are frail and who fail and who inspire great love in the reader. The Country Girls is a mighty book, one that was famously burned in her home town. When I was younger I ran barefoot through all Maeve Binchy's work. She has such an easy, unruffled style that sometimes you forget the formidable intellect click clacking along beneath it. Marian Keyes is outrageously talented, I think, and a gifted natural storyteller. I can rely on her to make me laugh, which is my number one requirement of a human being, but I also admire her liberal stance on, well, just about everything. She's positive about being a woman, and I like that.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
Even hearing the words 'dive in' makes me hyper ventilate. I plan, then I rewrite the plan, then I cry over the plan, swear at it and start another plan. When I'm happy with the plan, I create a 'Character Sheet' for each of the main characters, setting out in order all their plot points. I'm extremely disciplined about this, as I can only let rip within the confines of a sensible plan.