Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Irish Fiction Month Interview: Clare Dowling

Today I'm delighted to welcome Clare Dowling to my blog for a bit of a chat.  

I've read all of Clare's books apart from her last book, Would I Lie To You, which I have to confess is still sat in my backlog of review books... BUT I'm definitely planning to read it in the next week or so as part of this Irish Fiction month.

Why do you think Irish Fiction has become so popular worldwide?
I think it’s possibly because Irish writers approach most things with a sense of humour, even issues that are quite dark and bleak. And there is real heart at the centre of the stories.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a ballet dancer originally – I think it must have been the pink frilly outfits – and then I wanted to join a circus. I fell into writing by accident, having trained as an actress and discovering that there were really very, very few parts for young actresses. I rather naïvely thought I would write one, and embarked upon my first stage play. It turned out to be best thing I ever did.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?

If I had the choice now, I’d love to be a hospital doctor. Maybe it’s too many episodes of ER, but so many important things happen in hospitals; births, deaths and everything in between. And I’d really love to shout, ‘Stand clear!’ 

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I write in the mornings, when my children are at school. Then I’ll write again at night if I need to catch up, which always seems to be the case. I sometimes bribe myself with a modest glass of wine.

Which of the characters that you’ve created is your favourite?
Each of my female characters is my favourite at the time I’m writing them – I think they have to be! But Clara in my new book is particularly strong, as she has quite a lot to contend with, and shows real spirit in trying to claim back her life. With each book, I’m finding myself drawn more and more to characters who face big dilemmas. Then you find out what they’re truly made of.

Would you say that any of your characters are like you? If so, which one(s)?

I don’t think I’d recognise myself! I’m sure there are bits of me in each character I create. On the other hand, am I really that interesting …?

Have you ever had writer’s block?
I believe getting stuck – if that’s what writer’s block is – is a normal part of writing. It usually means that you need to work some element of the plot or characterisation through. I take forever to write the first 30K of a book, simply because I need that time to get to know my characters.

Which Irish authors, if any, inspired you to become a writer?

Maeve Binchy. I read ‘Light A Penny Candle’ and over when I was a teenager. Such a warm and wise writer.

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?

I’m usually so relieved to get it delivered, normally wildly beyond deadline, that I just have a takeaway and a decent night’s sleep. But two weeks in Bali would be nice….

Where would be your idyllic Irish location for a writing retreat?
I once wrote a book in a Travelodge hotel. This was when my daughter was very young, and my husband gave up work to look after her. But even though I was supposed to be upstairs writing, at the first whimper I’d dash down in full Mammy mode, until in the end I had to go across the road to our local Travelodge, and write there during the day to meet my deadline. For me it worked!

Can you tell us a little bit about your current book? 
It’s about Clara, who moves back home from London with her fiancée Matthew after ten years away, only to find that her ex-boyfriend hasn’t quite forgiven and forgotten. Things take a decidedly sinister turn when she finds herself followed and watched. But who will believe her? As her dreams of happily-ever-after are shattered, Clara decides it’s time to fight back.

Can you describe your latest book in 20 words or less?
What happens when your ex decides that the unpleasant past isn’t over as far as he’s concerned?

If you love the sound of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You as much as I do then you don't have to wait too much longer to get your hands on a copy as it's being published in Hardback and Kindle format this Thursday, 14th March. This is definitely one book that I do want to read but I'll more than likely wait until it comes out in regular paperback later this year.  

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