November 2012


Ciara Geraghty is the author of Saving Grace, Becoming Scarlett, Finding Mr Flood and Lifesaving for Beginners. She lives in Dublin with her husband and three children. (Interview by Anna Bell)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your new book Lifesaving for Beginners?

    A car crash at the beginning of the story throws the lives of two families into disarray, in two completely different ways. Milo McIntyre - a nine-year-old boy from Brighton - loses his mother and struggles to re-adjust to life without her. Then his sister Faith - who is now looking after him - discovers a secret her mother never intended her to find out. Kat Kavanagh, a Dublin writer, walks away from the crash with barely a scratch and tries to get back to the life she has meticulously created for herself. But her man-friend Thomas wants things to change. He wants a commitment from Kat. Now Kat is alone with a desperate dose of writers' block. When letters begin to arrive at her parents' house addressed to her, a secret that Kat has been running from since she was fifteen, is about to catch up with her.

  2. 2.I loved that half of the book was narrated by the eight-year-old character Milo - was he a fun character to write?

    Yes, I had a great time writing Milo who is one of my favourite characters. He is inspired by my son Neil, who was nine-going-on-ten when I began writing the book. Once I started writing him, I couldn't stop. His character felt like something I didn't have to make up. He was just there. In my head, waiting to become words on the screen. I fell in love with him from the start. He was my way of telling Faith's side of the story.

  3. 3. Lifesaving for Beginners is an uplifting story yet it tackles difficult topics such as bereavement. Is it difficult finding the light-hearted side of dark topics?

    Leonard Cohen said it best when he said, 'There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.' I am interested in dealing with difficult issues - such as bereavement - and flawed characters, like Kat Kavanagh, one of the two main characters in Lifesaving for Beginners. Happiness - and happy people - write white on the page. The cracks, the flaws; here is where it gets interesting. But it can't be all doom and gloom because that can become tedious for the reader too. So I use humour to shed some light and give the story and the characters some perspective. I don't find it difficult to mix the dark and the light. It feels natural to me. It feels like real life.

  4. 4. You've got a really big book deal with Hachette (Ireland) and Hodder (UK) - what was it like when you first got the news?

    It's an endorsement of my work in a very real way. It's someone telling you, 'I think you're good at what you do'. It gives my confidence a huge boost, and confidence is a very important asset when you're a writer because you spend so much time alone, constantly asking yourself the question, 'Is this good enough?' 'Am I good enough?'

  5. 5. Who's been your favourite character that you've written into life?

    That's like asking me who is my favourite child!!! Some of my favourite characters have been bit-players in the books. For example, I absolutely adore Sissy Clarke, Stanley Flinter's flat mate and best friend in Finding Mr. Flood. She made me laugh so much and I adored the chemistry between her and Stanley. And I have a bit of a soft spot for Grace O'Brien, the main character in Saving Grace because she was the first person I created - you never forget the first one...

  6. 6. What are you working on now?

    I'm working on my fifth novel. I'm at the exciting bit which is the start where the possibilities are endless. The tricky bit for me is when I get to the 20,000-word stage. That's when the self-doubt sets in. But I'm not there yet so for the moment, I'm enjoying it.

  7. 7. What's your favourite all-time chick lit book?

    Probably Rachel's Holiday'by Marian Keyes. I'm pretty sure it's because of Rachel 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 coped with superstorm Sandy? Hope they're doing well, still making each other happy.

  8. 8. Why do you think Ireland has produced so many great chick lit authors?

    Ireland is a land of storytellers. When you meet someone, you say, 'Any news?' It's very rare someone will reply, 'No'. I think it might be because of the weather. It's either raining or threatening to rain or sodden, because of recent rainfall. It's often cloudy. Dull. So we liven things up by telling tales.

  9. 9. Which authors have inspired you?

    Too many to mention. When I was younger, two of my favourite authors were John Irvine and Margaret Atwood. I loved the strangeness of their stories, the quirkiness of their characters. Irish writers who inspired me in my 20s were Patricia Scanlan, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes. They made writing seem so easy, so accessible. Lately, I've been inspired by short story writers like Kevin Barry and Mary Costello, who are able to span the story of a life in a few pages.

  10. 10. What have you got planned for Christmas this year?

    I'm not a big Christmas fan since I found out about you-know-who not existing a few years back.... Also, I dislike Hype, because Hype heralds Expectation which leads, inevitably, to Disappointment. I almost always cry on Christmas Day, usually because something has gone terribly wrong with my over-ambitious dinner plans. I once dropped a turkey when I was lifting it out of the oven. It skidded across the kitchen tiles. I hoisted it back onto the roasting tin, brushed the dirt off it and dished it up to my unsuspecting family. They said it was 'delicious.' This Christmas, things will be different (although I say that every year). It'll be the first Christmas where it'll be just the five of us (six, if you include the dog which we do). I'm really looking forward to it (I say that every year, too; am cursed with blind optimism. Also forgetfulness).

  11. 11. If you could have any of your novels turned into a movie, which one would you pick?

    All of them!!! I wish Nora Ephron was still with us - I think she'd be the perfect person to translate the books onto the silver screen.

  12. 12. For someone who is just discovering your books, what can a reader expect from a Ciara Geraghty novel?

    My mantra is, 'A good tale, well told’.That is what I am aiming for. Readers have told me that my books have made them cry and laugh out loud. I got a lovely post on my Facebook page recently (ciarageraghty's books), about Lifesaving for Beginners: "I love the characters, they all make me feel so 'homey' , and not lonely..., they are my own friends almost , ..xx" I'll take that....

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