Most of the book was written over about 18 months. I started it properly in March 2020 and finished at the end of last year, but it's probably been buzzing around in my head in one way or another since I was a teenager.
I love that review! Anguish and love are definitely two of the tones of voice that are in there. It wasn't until I was finished writing that I felt them properly.
I think I've probably always been aware of that. Upheavals caused by drinking, or the aftermath of drinking, are part of my memories from a young age.
There's something on the way alright, but whether it's going to end up being a book or just words in another ruinously overpriced hardback notebook, it's still too early to say...
Can I say all of it? I love my family, I love my work, I love my friends. Without wanting to invite disaster or minimise the usual daily travails, I feel very lucky in my life.
Probably my mother Caroline. It took writing a book to find that out.
My taste in music (country and western) and an interest in nature from my dad, and a certain chippiness and tendency towards hyperbole from my mother.
It's a hard one because there are so many greats to choose from – Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard and of course Johnny Cash would all be up there in the pantheon, but I think for sheer songwriting prowess, plus amazing intelligence, charm and grace, not to mention her philanthropic goodness, you just can't go past Dolly Parton, can you? Queen of style, queen of country, forever telling women's stories and telling them true, never taking herself too seriously, but such dignity too. She's a force for good in this world. I feel better just looking at her some days.
It's a toss up probably between my friend Bridget's house, a little cottage in the middle of the countryside, looking out on the Atlantic in West Cork, and falling about in the surf with my family at Ocean Beach in Hawke's Bay.
I bought a really nice pair of men's pyjamas with the money from a writing prize a couple of years ago. I then had to spend a bit more money getting the flap in the pants sewn up. But it was worth it, they're great.
That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry; Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft; and Marian Keyes' Again, Rachel – I'm loudly sobbing as I come to the end.
So many! But I think I'd probably rest very happy if I had produced something of the calibre and scope of The Stand. Stephen King was barely 30 when it came out too! What an absolute prodigy. Equally, I read Meg Mason's Sorrow and Bliss, aching to be able to do what she did, write a character so alive and so precisely her own self, as Martha is, but I knew I never could, so I guess that's not quite the same thing, is it?
Kingdom is a Korean zombie series set in the 16th century that is shot like the most sumptuous feature film. It's completely addictive – the violence is graphic and the production values are insanely good. They deserve all the Oscars for the hats alone.
Banana cake, or blueberry and lemon cake, is about the limit of my reliability in terms of feeding people. With a pile of Ottolenghi-derived couscous to start with if they insist.