What is your latest book, “In Dublin’s Fair City,” about?
Molly Murphy, an Irish immigrant sleuth, is sent back to Ireland on what seems like a simple mission — to find a missing woman. A rich theater impresario had come to New York during the Famine and only recently discovered that his sick baby sister was left behind when the Famine ship sailed. Now he wants to find out if she is still alive and settle his fortune on her. But the mission becomes more complicated when Molly is asked to change cabins with a famous actress and the actress’s maid is found dead in her bed.
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
Naturally these historical novels require lots of research — every little detail has to be right. When I am writing, I go down to my computer early every morning and write. I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve done five pages. When I’ve finished the first draft, I give it to two of my daughters and my husband, who all have different insights and strengths.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write — don’t dream of doing it some day. It’s like saying you want to play a concerto at Carnegie Hall some day but you’re not currently practicing the piano. 2. Write what you truly love, not something you think will sell well.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
“Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen; “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger; “Possession,” by A.S. Byatt.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m not. I’m currently writing and I can’t do both at the same time. When I’ve finished my current book, I’ll go into an orgy of reading for pleasure.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
“Harry Potter.” And not just in terms of money, although that would be nice too. Rowling succeeded in creating a fascinating, believable world and in getting millions of children to read.
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Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
“The Lord of the Rings.” Until then I thought fantasy was not for me. When the first black rider crossed the page, I was hooked.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
I think the Brontes might have been fascinating. One author: dead Jane Austen; living Maya Angelou.
What book changed your life?
I can’t think of one earth-shattering change, but certainly Agatha Christie novels, read at a very young age, hooked me on the whodunit. Tony Hillerman’s ability to transport the reader to another place made me decide to write mysteries with a great feel for time and place.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
One place that symbolizes Ireland for me: The Rock of Cashel – that magnificent view as you approach it. Sends chills down my spine.
You’re Irish if …
you have red-headed daughter and granddaughters (one called Meghan) the sound of the traditional Irish music brings tears to your eyes and a deep longing to your heart. You play the Celtic Harp (like me). You can put up with an Irish husband without killing him — also like me!