Saturday, 17 June 2017

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Roisin Meaney

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, going to aim to read books that have been out for at least 6 months, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

I was born in Kerry, in the south west of Ireland. Since the age of eight Limerick city has been my main home, but I’ve also spent long stretches in Zimbabwe, London and San Francisco. I came late to writing: I started life as a primary teacher, because I loved children and because both my parents had also taught – but after two years in an Irish classroom, despite loving the job, I decided I wanted to see the world, so I ended up in Africa where I taught High School English for two years. In the early nineties I took off again, this time to London where I worked as an advertising copywriter for three years. This gave me my first taste of writing for a living and I loved it. Almost a decade later I took my final break from teaching to attempt my first book, The Daisy Picker (in San Francisco) which was published by Tivoli Books Ireland in 2004. In 2008, after four publications, I gave up the day job to write full time. My fourteenth novel, The Street Where You Live, has just been published by Hachette Books Ireland, and I’ve also written two books for children, published by The O’Brien Press.  

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

I’d always been a reader, but never considered writing as a career. Then when I was 18, I won a Ford Fiesta, simply by completing the sentence “I would like to win a Ford Fiesta because…” (My ending was “…my father won’t let me drive his.”) After that, I entered every competition going, and won several other prizes. This love of playing with words led me to look for work in advertising when I needed a break from the classroom. This work gave me a taste for writing, but it took many more years before I acted on the desire to write a book – and of course bringing a novel into being was very different to knocking out a 20 second radio ad, so The Daisy Picker was an exercise in optimism. I had no clue what I was doing – all I knew was that I wanted to give it a try. (I’m good at giving things tries.) I sat at my laptop every day and hoped for the best – and miraculously, a book came out after about seven months.  

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

To date I’ve had fourteen novels published:
The Daisy Picker (2004)
Putting Out the Stars (2005)
The Last Week of May (2007)
The People Next Door (2008)
Half Seven on a Thursday (2009)
Love in the Making (2010)
The Things We Do for Love (2011) 
One Summer (2012)
Something in Common (2013)
After the Wedding (2014)
Two Fridays in April (2015)
I’ll be Home for Christmas (2015)
The Reunion (2016)
The Street Where You Live (2017)

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

Very tough question to answer – but if I had to choose, I might go for Something in Common, because it proved to be the toughest, with the widest time span (which  necessitated lots of research – not my favourite thing). 

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

Not sure why, but I think One Summer was. Maybe because it was a little quirkier than the others, and I didn’t have to follow the usual rules of logic so much…

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I love Audrey from The Things We Do for Love. She’s the eternal optimist, and I’m always drawn to people with a positive outlook. And Florence from The Reunion, who seems so intimidating when Caroline first encounters her but who turns out to be very different. And Lizzie O’Grady from The Daisy Picker holds a special place in my heart, simply because she was my very first leading lady. 

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

The only thing I’d change would be to start writing earlier. I feel like I learn a little more with each book I write, so if I’d begun in my twenties I’d be soooooo accomplished now! 

7) Which of your covers is your favourite and why?

I loved Half Seven on a Thursday’s cover the minute I saw it: I think that was the first time that had happened.  I loved that it was a mix of illustration and photography, and there was great life to it. And a close second would be Something in Common: I felt it captured the flavour of the story perfectly. 

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I’d love to try something darker. I’d use a pseudonym so my regular readers wouldn’t be confused….I actually have something that’s been sitting on the back burner for a few years. One of these days I’ll get back to it. 

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

I’ve begun plotting the next. It’s the story of a thirtieth wedding anniversary with a difference. If I told you any more I’d have to kill you. 

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

Anne Tyler. I discovered her in Zimbabwe, of all places, all those years ago, and I think to this day she remains my favourite author. I’ve loved some of her books more than others – and a recent one was quite disappointing – but on the whole I really, really enjoy her writing.  I was compared to her once: it made my day. 

11)  Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

I rarely open any of them! I’m terrified that I’ll find something I want to change, something that seems terribly amateurish now – particularly in the first few – so I tend to leave them on the shelf. But I think that’s par for the course with authors, who generally improve with each new offering – I like to think so anyway! Thankfully, most of the back catalogue has travelled out of Ireland – two of them were published in the US, I’ve been translated into Italian, Danish, German and Norwegian, and Hachette Australia have taken the last four. I’ve recently signed a three-book translation deal with a Russian publisher too, so world domination is getting closer….

Thank you so much Roisin for chatting about your Back Catalogue with us. I have every intention of working my way through it in the future!

Follow Roisin:

Twitter: @roisinmeaney

Check out Roisin's latest book, The Street Where You Live which was out earlier this month. 

Amazon UK
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