Interview with Ciara Geraghty
Ciara Geraghty is the author of the novels Saving Grace, Becoming Scarlett, Finding Mr Flood and Lifesaving for Beginners. She lives in Dublin with one husband, three children and a dog. Her latest novel is Now That I've Found You.
What is a typical working day for you?
I’m a full-time writer but also a full-time mother so, like many women, I try to get my work done while the children are at school. I have an office in the attic of my house and I sit there for four hours every morning after the school run, in the company of my dog. I drink a lot of tea and I write. My daily objective is 1,000 words. Some days are better than others….
What are your three favourite books of all time? And why?
That’s a terrible question to ask! Like asking someone to judge a cute baby contest…THEY’RE ALL CUTE!!! THEY’RE BABIES!!!
But if you insist, then I’d have to say that there are a few books that have remained in my ‘top ten favourite books EVER’. Here are three:
An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan. The book tells the true story of the imprisonment of Brian Keenan – an Irish writer and academic – and John McCarthy – a British journalist – from 1986 to 1990 in Beirut. While the book deals with the hostile and sometimes brutal conditions the men endured during their captivity, it also captures the essence of friendship and companionship and love and this, for me, is what makes this book sing like a song you’ll never forget.
Anne Of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. This was the first book I read that had a real impact on me. My mother recommended it and she took real pleasure in me reading it. We had something in common while I read it. She’d say ‘which bit are you at now?’ She was reading it again, vicariously, through me. When I walked into the kitchen with the tears falling down, she turned from her spot at the kitchen sink with the suds dripping from her yellow Marigolds and said ‘Matthew died.’ And she was right. Matthew had died. And I mourned his passing like he was a real, live person who I had known personally. That’s the moment I suppose. When I realised the impact books could have. The realness of them. How they made you care. Empathise. Grieve. And I grieved for Matthew. I still do. I don’t think I’ll ever get over him.
Rachael’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. I’ve read this many times and it still makes me laugh out loud. I’m pretty sure it’s because of Rachael Walsh, who remains my favourite of the Walsh sisters. Such a flawed character. So funny and vulnerable and clever and – in the end – strong. I think about her sometimes; her and Luke over there in New York. Wonder how they’re getting on? Hope they’re doing well, still making each other happy.
Which author do you admire most? And why?
Hundreds!! I would say ‘influences’ would include John Irving and Margaret Atwood. I love the quirkiness of their characters and the ease of their storytelling. I love Irish writers; Kevin Barry, Donal Ryan, Marian Keyes, Colum McCann, Edna O’Brien. All great story tellers. And great writers. Coming from such a small, insignificant island but surrounded on all sides by these talented, amazing writers, makes people like me think that....YES....I CAN DO IT TOO!!!!!
What tips would you give aspiring writers?
Show your work to somebody honest whose opinion you trust and value, but don’t show it too early. Writing is like a secret – it should be kept to yourself for a long time before you share it.
Writing is a craft as much as an art, if not more so. You need to practice, to flex that muscle. If you do, you’ll get better, I promise!
Read. A lot. Go to literary / author events. Ask questions. Join creative writing classes. Immerse yourself in the literary life as much as you can. Read some more. Treat yourself to a lovely notebook and a pen. Write stuff in it.
What’s your most memorable experience at a Literary Event?
The first time I met Maeve Binchy was at the 125th anniversary of one of our biggest bookshops, Easons. She was her usual charming, gracious, funny self and agreed to posing for a photograph with me and my daughter, Sadhbh. I sort of squatted beside the wheelchair and in doing so, accidentally pressed a button on the arm of the chair which began to simultaneously elevate and recline. I apologised – a number of times – and Maeve said it was fine, once she managed to get herself back in position. But I’d say she was glad to see the back of me all the same…..
If a movie was made of your life, what three songs would you want on the soundtrack?
I suppose the Beatles’ Paperback Writer should be in there. One song that always gets me het up and motiviated is Eminem’s Lose Yourself. And for my funeral, how about David Bowie’s Let’s Dance because I love dancing and because it’s such an uplifting song, it’ll have the punters swaying in the aisles.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry so much about what other people think or say. It’s a terrible waste of time.