August 2013


Claudia Carroll is the author of ten novels to date; including her latest release Me and You. She lives in Dublin and once used to be on TV soap Fair City. (Interview by Jade Craddock)

Read previous interview by Angela Smith

Return to interview list

  1. 1. Can you tell us about Me and You?

    Of course! Just to tell you a wee bit about the book, Me and You, centres around a heroine called Angie, who’s arranged to meet up with her best friend Kitty at a swanky health spa … only Kitty stands her up. No answer to her mobile or house phone, absolutely nothing. Which is so not like her. So Angie of course, does what any concerned pal would do, spirals off into a complete tailspin of panic. Calls just about every mutual friend they have, who all say, ‘but we thought Kitty was with you!’ Turns out though that no one has seen her in days, so Angie calls Kitty’s boyfriend Simon and between them they start searching, but yet again nothing. Just dead ends everywhere they turn. Pretty soon their initial concern morphs into full-blown panic. So in desperation, Angie and Simon go to the police and pretty soon, a nationwide search follows. But bubbling under it all is a whole other development; Simon and Angie’s ever-growing closeness. They say two people who suffer a mutual bereavement will bond so strongly you can’t imagine, and coping with the trauma of a much-loved missing person is every bit as painful. Yet the closer they grow, the more Kitty is like a constant shadow lying between them. Almost like a latter-day Rebecca. Next part of the story is the same day retold all over again, except this time entirely from Kitty’s point of view. And we learn the whole reason why she disappeared when she had to and most importantly of all, the real reason why she can never divulge the truth to her former boyfriend and best friend. Two people she still misses so much it hurts. By now, Kitty is living and working in Capetown, with a whole new name, identity, life. But the pull of home, even after all these years, is still overwhelming. So when dramatic events suddenly propel Kitty back to her old life and when she finally has to face up to her past and loved ones she’d no choice but to walk away from … then what next? And no, I’m not telling you any more!

  2. 2. Where did you get the inspiration?

    Actually, from an article I read in the paper with the head of the Missing Persons Bureau here in Ireland. He said that statistically well over ninety per cent of people who go missing every year do so electively. Which absolutely intrigued me! So I got to wondering, what is it that would make a person walk out on family, friends, loved ones, careers, the whole works and just check out of their whole lives? And the story really came from there … that was the springboard for me.

  3. 3. Angie and Kitty are very different characters - did you find one easier to write than the other?

    Angie is a sort of everywoman character really and yes, in many ways I probably found her the easiest to write. She’s down-to-earth, funny, a little insecure about herself and has absolutely no confidence when it comes to guys, on account of her past experiences. (A lot of me in there, I have to confess!) Whereas Kitty is the exact opposite. She’s everything Angie isn’t; she’s wild, abandoned, and spontaneous, one of those characters who just live for the present and don’t care about what tomorrow will bring. She has the irresistibly bright aura about her though and is one of those naturally charismatic people that everyone adores. The sort of woman that you look at and say, ‘wish I could be a bit more like her.’

  4. 4. Is there anything of you in either of them?

    Probably a lot of Angie, I think. I’m insecure like Angie and wish there was a bit more of Kitty’s sense of abandonment in me. Life would certainly never be dull if we were all like Kitty!

  5. 5. What message do you want readers to take from this novel?

    The book is a celebration really of how the pull of a truly deep friendship can overcome just about anything. And it’s very much a love story too, but where the path of true love takes a very different path to the one you’d normally expect. If you’ve ever fallen for someone you shouldn’t have, then you’ll understand!

  6. 6. Was it a difficult book to write?

    No, I absolutely adored writing it and to be honest, when I reached the end, I felt a bit sad saying goodbye to all these characters I’d been living with in my head for a full year. All part of the process though.

  7. 7. Do you have a favourite line or quote from the novel?

    Funny, but most authors say the very last line is the most difficult for them, but for me it’s getting the very first line right that really matters. It always takes me ages to come up with the perfect opening line, but I find once I have that, then the first paragraph will follow, then the first page and before you know where you are, you’ve written a chapter. So the opening line of ME AND YOU is, ‘My birthday. My actual birthday and I’ve just been stood up.’ It sort of pulled me, I wanted to know who could possibly stand someone up on their birthday? And it went from there, really.

  8. 8. What did you first think when you finally had a finished copy of the novel in your hands?

    Amazing! I always get a little bit teary to be honest, when that very first copy rolls off the presses and makes its way to me. I’m not a mother, but I imagine it’s how a mum must feel the very first time she holds a newborn.

  9. 9. Is being an author everything it’s cracked up to be?

    For me, it’s the best job in the world and I feel so privileged that I get to do something I love every day. The tough part though, is trying to keep the writing day as close to a nine to five job as possible, which is easier said than done! Trouble is, when I’m writing from home, there can just be so many other distractions. Even as I’m typing this, I’m looking at a big mound of ironing, just winking at me to be done. I constantly have to remind myself that when I’m writing I’m working, just as if I was based in an office or business setting, so I try my best not to take calls, answer emails from pals or surf the net. Believe me though, this took a long, long time to get used to! Soon enough though, my family and friends slowly copped on not to call during the day. So I suppose here’s a little tip to would-be authors who may be reading this; just ignore the door, put the phone on silent, don’t go online and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get done. Really. My mother is by a mile the worst ‘time bandit’ offender, but then she thinks I spend all day every day daydreaming out the window and that books appear on shelves by magic. Having said all that though, being a full-time author really is the single best job in the world. I’m incredibly lucky and still pinching myself that I can do it full-time now. Imagine a job where you can haul yourself out of bed and be ‘in work’ five minutes later? What’s not to love?

  10. 10. I understand you were an actress before you became an author, did you take any writing courses before becoming a novelist?

    I had done a writing course years ago but it was actually in screenwriting and not in writing a novel as such. You see, for about as long as I can remember, I’d been scribbling down stories and embarrassingly rough drafts for novels. But then like a lot of people, I just assumed that book deals were something that happened to other people so I’d just shove what I’d written into the back of a drawer and vow not to mortify myself by even talking about it. Took me a very long time and a LOT of courage to get brave and actually put a book out there. In the meantime though, as you say, I was working as an actress on a long-running soap opera in Ireland and, like so many others, had always dreamt of writing a book, but never really had the guts. Then one of our directors on the show, a good pal of mine, published her first book and advised me to get three chapters of mine to her agent who she very kindly asked to look them over. So I took a very deep breath and went for it, sent off my chapters, then spent the next few weeks down on my hands and knees praying till I heard news back. But thankfully the agent, the fabulous Marianne Gunn O’Connor, very kindly agreed to take me on and had a book deal for me a few weeks later. Nearly ten years on and I’m still pinching myself….

  11. 11. What do you think of the label chick lit?

    Labels don’t bother me, although I prefer ‘women’s commercial fiction.’ The lovely Melissa Hill says the only label you every need to worry about is ‘sh*te!’

  12. 12. How healthy do you think the women’s fiction market is today?

    For all the negativity you hear, I think it’s in rude health. You only have to look at the success of authors such as Cecelia Ahern, Patricia Scanlan, Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella to see that. And long may it continue.

  13. 13. What’s the best book you’ve read this year and which are you most looking forward to?

    I just read … and bawled … over The Girl You Left Behind by the wonderful Jojo Moyes. So fabulous. And I’m really looking forward to the new Bridget Jones … coming soon, I hear!

  14. 14. What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader?

    I love hearing absolutely anything from readers - it’s the perk of any writer’s job. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, it’s wonderful to log on and to read all these comments about my books from readers all over the world … makes my day, I can tell you.

  15. 15. If there’s one thing aspiring authors should know about the publishing industry, what is it?

    That they should persevere. Only today I read about a debut Irish novelist who’s just been long listed for the Booker prize … and he had forty-seven rejections!

  16. 16. If you could co-write a book with another author who would it be?

    Oh my God, there’s so many to choose from! I’d kill to work with the wonderful Marian Keyes who walks on water, as far as I’m concerned. But I could list you at least a dozen more fabulous authors!

Back to top
Previous Interview by Angela Smith September 2009 
  1. 1. Why did you decide to turn to novel writing and what inspired your first novel, He Loves Me Not . . . He Loves Me.

    Well, when I was very young and eejitty, I was cast in a rubbishy film, shot in a stately home in the Irish countryside, which was completely falling apart and barely held up by the wallpaper. The family, all Anglo-Irish gentry, were all deranged and I thought; here's an idea. How about a mad family down on their luck, who are forced to rent out their home to a film crew fresh from LA ... with hilarious consequences???

  2. 2. Besides your Portia Davenport books, have you ever considered writing another sequel?

    No, but it's funny you ask, as I'm often asked if I'd write a sequel to my third book, Remind Me Again Why I Need a Man. The thing is, you get a fresh idea and a fresh set of characters who come to you with every new novel and that can be addictive, just seeing where these people take you! So for the moment at least, I'm working on fully stand-alone books.

  3. 3. Was Do You Want to Know a Secret inspired by the self-help book The Secret?

    To a degree, yes. But the Law of Attraction, which the bestselling book The Secret is based on, has actually been around ever since Victorian times. So the answer is, The Secret was a touchstone, but my book is not based on it as such; it's more about the comedy which arises when three friends, who are self-help book addicts ( like myself!) try to project manage each other's lives for a year, with hilarious consequences.

  4. 4. Have you ever been tempted to write a book centred around a TV soap?

    Not so far ... but neither is that such a bad idea either ... hmmmmmm ...

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

    Oh that's easy. It's because we never shut up talking. Try getting through to my landline and you'll see what I mean. Irish women NEVER STOP YAKKING.

  6. 5. If you were an angel, who would you like to be teamed up with back on Earth?

    Ehh ... George Clooney's personal angel. There you go, I didn't even have to think about it. And I wouldn't be judgmental on him or anything. I promise. Once I got to watch over him all the time.

  7. 6. Your book I Never Fancied Him Anyway is being made into a movie. Which actors would you like to see play Cassandra, Charlene and Jack?

    Funny you should ask, but a LOT of the actors on the soap opera I worked on keep calling me to demand auditions for any of those parts. My standard, 'get out of jail free' answer is, "I have no say in this whatsoever. Kindly stop calling me at four am. I need to SLEEP."

  8. 7. Did you ever think that one of your novels would become a movie?

    Never in my wildest dreams. I'm constantly amazed and overwhelmed with deep gratitude when someone even comes up to me to say that they've even read something I've written.

  9. 8. How is the process of going from book to movie been so far?

    So smooth that I'm now thinking ... ok, where's the iceberg??? Mind you, maybe I've just seen the movie Titanic once too often.

  10. 9. What is the most exciting part, for you personally, of seeing your book made into a movie?

    Working with geniuses like Wendy Finerman (producer) and Robin Swicord (screenplay). How I'm even let into a room with them is beyond me.

  11. 10. What are you working on next?

    Can you believe it ... book number 7? I will be finished at the end of September, which scarily, is only days away. Its provisional title is Princess. Had Enough of Prince. Seeks Frog. Do you like it?

  12. 11. Out of all of your characters, which one have you enjoyed writing their story the most?

    Most definitely, the one I've just literally finished. She's a Cinderella character who loses everything and ends up having to move back in with her step mum and stepsisters who hate her. She has been hysterical to write and now I'm praying my editor says the same thing too.

  13. 12. Has picking a long title become one of your trademarks?

    Yes, although I'm often afraid they might sound a bit like country and western songs!

  14. 13. Which books have had the most influence on you?

    I read anything and everything, but am a huge fan of Marian Keyes, who walks on water as far as I'm concerned. But as for classical books, I re-read Jane Austen all the time; all commercial women's fiction plots are in there somewhere ... Jane got there first!

Back to top