January 2015


Anna McPartlin's novels include Pack Up the Moon and So What If I'm Broken and she also writes for BBC's Holby City. Her latest novel, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes, was recently selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. She lives in Wicklow, Ireland, with her musician husband. (Interview by Jade Craddock)

Return to interview list

photo by Evan Doherty
  1. 1. How would you describe The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes?

    It’s a story about the last eight days of a 40-year-old woman’s life. It’s about her family’s struggle to come to terms with letting her go and Rabbit’s fight to make every last moment count. It’s filled with love, joy, celebration, laughter, tears and all the complexities of letting a loved one go.

  2. 2. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for readers, so what was it like to write?

    I laughed and cried my way through the entire process. My husband thought I was having a breakdown at various points.

  3. 3. Did you ever get writer’s block on the novel?

    I have days where the words don’t flow but when that happens I don’t push it. I just take the day off and then I pick up the slack the next day. I’ve yet to hit a brick wall.

  4. 4. You manage to make the novel at once heart-breaking and heart-warming, and this is summed up beautifully in the final paragraph of the book, how did you manage this?

    I don’t know! I suppose I spend a lot of time working with characters to make sure that they are completely authentic and believable people. If my readers recognise and empathise with these characters then I’ve been successful. It’s all about character.

  5. 5. You’ve written the novel so that we get to see the perspectives of all characters not just Rabbit, what was the most important factor in including these voices?

    When someone is dying it’s not just about them - it’s about the impact on everyone around them so it was really important to include all perspectives. To only tell this story from Rabbit’s perspective would have been tragically limiting. A tiny universe is rocked every time a loved one dies. I needed to tell Rabbit’s family members stories just as much as her story.

  6. 6. In many ways Rabbit’s daughter Juliet is perhaps the bravest of all the characters. Where does she find her strength and did you imagine her future beyond the book?

    Juliet is the character most like me and it’s funny but I don’t see her as brave at all. My mum had MS and she had to be put into a home when I was eleven. I remember worrying about her all the time, fussing a little too much and obsessing over the smallest things like her medications and food intake. If she had a fall I’d become almost apoplectic because I was so sure that if I had been there it wouldn’t have happened. Juliet is where I was, she’s a little girl inhabiting an adult world, her concerns are great but they are all she knows and understands. She is surrounded by love and so she has adapted because that’s what kids do. When we leave her she will be forced to adapt to a whole new world once more and she will. I see a future for Juliet, in fact I see a future for all the Hayes family left behind.

  7. 7. There will be many people who have gone through or will go through what Rabbit’s family go through. What do you hope readers take from the novel?

    I hope to provide a little quiet relief from whatever troubles them and to remind them where there is love there is joy.

  8. 8. You’ve had some wonderful praise for The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes and it was recently nominated for the Irish Book awards. When you were writing it, did you feel that you had something special?

    No way, I freak out the whole way through every book, even if I love every second of writing. My constant worry is that no one else will like it. I hand it over to my agent and/or publisher and curl into a ball until the phone rings…

  9. 9. What’s been the best feedback you’ve had?

    There has been so much love for this book but honestly the day someone compared me to Roddy Doyle I flipped out.

  10. 10. This is your sixth novel, has anything changed about how you write, why you write or what you write about from your first novel?

    No, it’s all the same, in fact going back to my first novel Pack Up The Moon, while the story is different the themes are remarkably similar. All my books can be broken down into four themes - love, loss, family and friendship.

  11. 11. You also write scripts, does any of that cross over into writing novels or are they quite separate disciplines?

    They are completely different disciplines and I’m still new in the scriptwriting game but I’ve just completed my third Holby City script. It’s been a massive learning curve and I couldn’t have had a more supportive team behind me. I am loving it.

  12. 12. What are your writing resolutions for 2015?

    Work, work, work and then work some more.

  13. 13. What books are you looking forward to in 2015?

    A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt and Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan.

  14. 14. What can we expect from your next novel Somewhere Inside of Happy?

    It’s the story of a mother’s love and a misunderstood action that led to a chain of events that changed her life forever.

Back to top