What is your latest book about?
It focuses on strong, imaginative, and fearless women, Irish and Irish-American women like Veronica Guerin, Maud Gonne, Mary Brosnahan, Sinead O’Connor, Edna O’Brien, Mary McCarthy, Rosemary Nelson, Margaret Sanger, Georgia O’Keefe, Nell McCafferty, Mairead Farrell and Dorothy Day. It was my idea that even though “The Daughters of Maeve” features women from varied backgrounds and time periods, it would also have a narrative thread that connected all of these women, and show how they have influenced each other in some way.
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
I always listen to music when I’m writing. It’s the one thing that blocks out all the other noise. It really helps me focus and gets me energized. I write during the day as a copywriter, which also helps keep me disciplined.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I would say that the best way to ensure success is to branch out. When you have a gift for different types of writing, whether it’s short stories, plays, or journalism, you will have a better shot at gaining exposure. Also, it’s really important to read – and write – about what you love. The more passionate you are about what you write, the more others will be too.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
“The Country Girls Trilogy” by Edna O’Brien. This is the book that made me want to become a writer. “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh. The most beautiful book ever written, in my opinion. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera.
What book are you currently reading?
“Do Penance or Perish: Magdalen Asylums in Ireland,” by Frances Finnegan. It’s a harrowing, but great book that reveals what was going on in the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Probably “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie. That book is pure genius. Or maybe “White Teeth by Zadie Smith.” It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years.
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Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
“Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. I read that book in two sittings, and was absolutely riveted by it. Even though it’s non-fiction, it reads like a great novel.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Maeve Brennan. She wrote for the New Yorker and was the author of the most incredible short stories. She was a beautiful, brilliant woman, but her life took a tragic turn in the end, and I’ve always been fascinated by her.
What book changed your life?
“The Country Girls Trilogy” by Edna O’Brien and “The Rose Garden” by Maeve Brennan.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
Probably Stephen’s Green in Dublin. It’s just so lush and completely serene. I absolutely love Dublin. It’s my favorite city of all.
You’re Irish if . . .
You’re passionate, you’re lyrical, and you’re constantly fascinated by life.