26 April 2012
Author Interview: Sinead Moriarty
Q1. Please tell me about your latest book Me and My Sisters.
Me and My Sisters is the story of three very different sisters all going through difficult stages of their lives. There is quite a lot of friction between them and it is only when faced with life-changing challenges that they come together. They realize that they are all vulnerable fragile people who need the love and support of each other to deal with the long road ahead. I wanted to explore the theme of identity - particularly the loss of identity when you have children and how lonely and isolating it can be as a mother. I also wanted to look at the issue of having your identity tied up with what you own/wear/drive. What would happen if all your riches were suddenly taken away - who are you without your car/diamonds/designer clothes? And finally I wanted to explore what happens when you have a child that you don't really want and feel nothing for. How do you deal with having a baby you have no love for, a baby that is interfering with your career - the career that means everything to you.
Q2. I read the book last summer and really loved it. I really liked that all the sisters were so different, and how events through the book changed them. Did you like writing about a family of characters, and do you base your characters on anyone in particular?
I love writing about families because I believe that the family is the most fascinating of subject matters. No family is the same, no family is 'normal'. Every family has skeletons in its closets. Every family has a story to tell. Relationships within families have always fascinated me, especially the relationship between siblings. I really like the dynamic of three sisters because you have three women with very different personalities, minds, desires, aspirations and lives. How these three women interact and behave towards each other under duress was really interesting to explore.
Q3. The new cover look for Me and My Sisters is very different from the original release - do you get much say in the cover style, and are you happy with the fresh new look?
I do have a say in the covers but I usually let the creative department at Penguin do their thing and unless I really dislike it, I tend to go with it. I really like this new cover as I think it's evocative and has a brightness to it that hopefully people will be drawn to.
Q4. Your stories are always very realistic and about women that could easily be someone we all know. Do you prefer writing realistic stories, and where do you find your inspiration for them?
I like writing about real people. I find life and people endlessly fascinating. I get my inspiration from daily life. I listen, observe, read and soak in everything around me and then, usually in the middle of night, I wake up with an idea for a book. My novels always start with an idea - I've written about anorexia, breast cancer, infertility, mixed marriages... this one started with the idea of exploring how mothers lose their identity when children come along, how they become invisible women. The story then began to take on a life of its own and other characters appeared and I began to weave a story around this main theme.
Q5. You write a trilogy of books starring the character Emma Hamilton and her struggle to conceive and become a mother. Are you planning on bringing those characters back, or do you think their story is finished now? Do you prefer writing a series of books or stand-alones?
Actually, I am currently working on a book about Emma and James. I decided to go back and revisit them and it's been really lovely getting to know them again and meeting all the old characters from those first books. I like to write stand alone books too, but I do feel that there is scope with all my books to write sequels at some point.
Q6. Female-written Irish fiction seems to be ever-growing in popularity at the moment, authors such as yourself, Melissa Hill, Colette Caddle, Martina Reilly, Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes and more are hugely successful and popular. What do you think it is about Irish writers that make us want to keep reading your novels, and make them so popular?!
I think Irish people generally have the 'gift of the gab'. We are storytellers by nature. I think Irish women in particular know how to mix humour with darkness which is what I try to do in my books. It's a very Irish thing to find humour in difficult situations. The best humour can often stem from the darkest of places and I think people respond to that.
Q7. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I read a huge amount and I spend time with my family and friends. I like switching off, I think it's important as writing can take over your life and all of your head-space. So, I'm very grateful to have three small children who need my attention and draw me away from my desk.
Q8. Who are some of your own favourite authors, and could you name your top three books of all time?
I like so many authors the list is endless. But my top three favourite books would probably be: The Dead School by Patrick McCabe, Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Q9. Finally, your new novel is out this summer, can you tell us about it please?! I can't wait to read it!
The new novel is about an eighteen year old girl called Sophie who lives in London with her mother Anna. One night, something happens, and Sophie realizes that her mother - the only mother she has ever known, the mother she loves and adores - is not her mother but is actually someone who abducted her seventeen years ago. The book then goes back in time and we find out why Sophie was taken and who her real mother is...
Thanks so much, Sinead!
You can buy Sinead's latest book Me and My Sisters as a paperback or an eBook now.