July 2013


Miranda Manning has had a number of stories and articles published in magazines and newspapers both in Ireland and the UK. Her debut novel Who is Alice? was published in May. She lives in Galway and has three adult children all of whom have flown the coop. (Interview by Shirley Benton-Bailey)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your first book.

    Who is Alice? started out in my head as a short story and just grew. I wondered initially in what circumstances a person (a man) could get away with leading a double life and I chose a T.D. (the Irish equivalent of an MP) because they’re away from home so much. I don’t want to give away the plot of the story but it’s about what happens when the T.D. suddenly is presented with the prospect of becoming Taoiseach (the Irish equivalent of a Prime Minister). He dumps his mistress (Alice) unceremoniously and things get really nasty after that. The story is about how Alice deals with this.

  2. 2. What was your journey to publication? Were you writing for a long time, or was there a particular impetus for you to write this book?

    I have been writing for a very long time but I have mainly been writing short stories and general interest articles for magazines. I have had some of these published both in Ireland and the UK. A long time ago I wrote a novel and I think I submitted it to all Irish publishers but didn’t have any luck. I was delighted when Poolbeg accepted Who is Alice? because they had told me they might be interested but if I didn’t hear within a specific period of time it would mean that they weren’t going ahead. When I didn’t hear within that time frame I was considering self-publishing on Amazon Kindle but then Poolbeg rang me and said they were interested so I was delighted.

  3. 3. What is your daily writing schedule?

    Up until recently I worked as an office manager so I wrote at night. If I was working on something in particular I would write for about two hours a night but there were always gaps where I wouldn’t write at all. Since I left my day job I have been working on the publicity for Alice and also finishing my second novel. However, the weather was been unusually good so I have taken advantage of that and have spent less time writing than I would normally.

  4. 4. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel?

    Coming up with a convincing plot and engaging characters. You need to keep the reader’s attention and there is so much to choose from it is difficult to come up with something really original though I am delighted that two of the reviewers have described Who is Alice? as ‘different’ and ‘highly original’. If everybody thinks that, I think it would be great.

  5. 5. Which contemporary writers do you admire?

    Marian Keyes, Kate McCabe, Joanna Trollope, Penelope Lively and Emma Donoghue.

  6. 6. What's your favourite book?

    Strumpet City by James Plunkett and of the more contemporary books The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue.

  7. 7. There's been much talk of the demise of chick lit. What do you think about that? Will it ever die off or will there always be a place for it?

    I think most women read chick lit or commercial women’s fiction as an escape. It’s lovely to lose yourself in a book, which is fast paced and glamorous but which may have little to do with real life as you know it so I think there will always be a place for it. You only have to look at the bookshelves in bookshops to see how much of it is being published and I doubt publishers would publish it if there wasn’t a market. Another good barometer is when you go on holidays and watch what people are reading on the beach or on the plane – not many are reading War and Peace!!!! I’d say chick lit will always have a place.

  8. 8. The world of publishing has seen a lot of changes over the past few years. Where do you see it all being in five years time?

    I think publishers should actively target the ebook market. While I don’t ever see the end of the book – most of us love the feel of a book in our hands - most readers have an ereader (such as Kindle) and an ebook is much cheaper. I think that paperbacks have become very expensive and that is an issue.

  9. 9. What are you working on at the moment?

    I have just finished my second novel and must now turn my mind to a third. However, I have recently written a short story and a piece of flash fiction which I am pruning and rewriting at present.

  10. 10. What is your greatest strength as a writer?

    I’m not sure. I think the fact that I had a full-time job until recently helped as going out to work and the travel that involves can give you inspiration. I get most of my inspiration by just watching how people interact. I have a lot of ideas for new work so I am hoping that they don’t dry up now that I have given up the day job.

  11. 11. As a recently published writer, what's the most interesting thing you've learned about publishing so far?

    That the editing process is very interesting and collaborative. My editor offered me lots of help and while she made a lot of suggestions she left it up to me whether I took them on board or not. I also learned that there is still a lot of work on publicity to be done when the book has been published.

  12. 12. What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?

    The most difficult thing is to find time if you have other commitments, which most of us have. But you can always put aside even half an hour a day and write something. Writing every day, for however short a period, is the best way to keep the juices flowing. Give yourself a target, in terms of time per day or number of works per day, and stick to it.

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