Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Irish Fiction Month Interview: Claudia Carroll

Earlier this month I did a sneak peeks feature for one of the books I'm looking forward to reading this year which is Me and You by Claudia Carroll.  Today I'm delighted to be able to welcome Claudia back to the blog for a bit of a natter about the book, which Irish writers inspired her and the biggie, why has Irish fiction become so popular?...

Why do you think Irish Fiction has become so popular worldwide?
Oooh tough one! Hard to call, but I always think it’s because we’re a desperate nation of talkers. Yak yak yakking the whole time. In this country, trust me, in this country, it’s tough having a phone call with your mother that lasts less than an hour. So I think maybe the huge input of Irish lady authors is a natural follow-on to that. Would love to know what everyone else thinks though!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
It was always something I’d just done automatically, without ever a second thought of publication. Even as a kid I was forever scribbling away short stories and at one point co-wrote a sitcom for telly which I know would make a holy mortifying show of me if it were ever to see the light of day! But I have to say, never with any thought of publication. Honest.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
I was an actress and appeared in the Irish soap Fair City for around fourteen years. I played the horrible old cow that everyone loves to hate. So chances are, I’ still be at that, if I wasn’t lucky enough to be writing books for a living.

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I’m a bit of an early bird, so I’d tend to start in the morning, write about 2000 words (at least, that’s always the aim!) then take a bit of time off in the afternoon to clean my manky house, get to Tescos, etc. all the normal jobs, you know yourself. Then in the evening, I’d go back over the day’s work…and more often than not end of cutting chunks out of it. As a rule of thumb; I have to write 2000 words to end up with 1000 useable words. Big difference!

Which of the characters that you’ve created is your favourite?
I loved writing Kitty in ME AND YOU. She’s wild and whacky and fun and I wish I could be more like her. Less of a worrier.

Which Irish authors, if any, inspired you to become a writer?
I love them all and am a huge fan in particular of the late great Maeve Binchy. Also Marian Keyes just walks on water as far as I’m concerned as well as the fabulous Sinead Moriarty, Melissa Hill and Trisha Scanlan.

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Oh God yeah! I reach for a jar of Nutella, which is forbidden food in this house, barring I deserve a major treat.

Where would be your idyllic Irish location for a writing retreat?
My kitchen table…if I could only stop the phone from ringing all day!

What was the first book by an Irish author that you can recall reading?
I think it was probably Light A Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy. I remember being astonished that you could actually write a book in Hiberno-English and it was absolutely magical. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your current book?
Sure! It’s called ME AND YOU and just to tell you a little bit about it, it starts with our heroine Angie being stood up on her birthday. No hang on, keep reading, it gets worse. By her best friend, Kitty. So of course Angie does what any of us would do…does a ring-around of just about every mutual pal they know, but it’s nothing but dead ends everywhere. No matter who she talks to, to a man everyone says, ‘oh, I thought she was with you!’

Now she’s a bit of a flake-head, Kitty; you know, the type of character who could fall in with a load of strangers in a pub, then wake up the next morning on a sofa in Holyhead, not having the first clue how she got there. Which means, initially no one panics, everyone just keeps telling Angie, ‘Ah, Kitty’ll turn up when she’s good and ready to…you know what that one is like!’

But she doesn’t. So Angie and Kitty’s lovey boyfriend really start to get panicky, go to the cops and file this as a missing person case. And of course, the search gets wider and wider with absolutely nothing turning up…until one night the police come calling to report a major breakthrough. So just how well, they ask Angie, did you really know this girl Kitty anyway?

Part two is Kitty’s story. It’s two years on now and we learn why she did what she had to do, why she had to walk out on the best pal she ever had and the only man she really ever loved. She’s abroad now, but suddenly her circumstances change dramatically and she finds herself having to come home for a funeral. 

What she doesn’t know though, is that in the intervening two years, Angie and Kitty’s old boyfriend have grown closer and closer, almost bonded by the shock they went through…and are now…wait for it…a couple.

So there you go! It’s essentially a love triangle story with a missing girl at the back of it and I’m hoping against hope you’ll all like it. I’m often asked where do you get the ideas for your books from and this one of all things, came from an interview I just happened to be reading with the head of the Missing Person’s Bureau here in Ireland. He said that well over 90% of people who go missing do so voluntarily, often because of financial worries, or maybe depression. But in a frightening amount of cases, it’s because they just want to check out of their whole life.

Which got me thinking. What is it that could possibly make someone just walk out on everyone and everything they ever loved? 

Not telling you any more, but don’t worry, I’ll be back with more updates very soon. And in the meantime, if you’d like to read some little snippet-y extracts from the book, it’s all there on my Facebook page…hope you’ll like it and enjoy!

Can you describe your latest book in 20 words or less?
Essentially a love triangle involving a girl who goes missing, then comes back years later to find her boyfriend is now dating her best friend. Hope you like it!

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