Anna McPartlin on Barbara Cartland, Enid Blyton and the Barrytown Trilogy

‘When I was 20 I was hit by a car. I read the book during a stay in hospital, and by the time I was released I knew I was going to be a writer’


What was the first book to make an impression on you? The first book to really make an impression on me as a teenager was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It was like the curtain was being pulled back, terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

What was your favourite book as a child? Enid Blyton’s The Twins of St Clare’s. I was obsessed, reading the entire series back to back, and when they were done I mourned for a week before discovered Mallory Towers existed and a whole new love affair began.

And what is your favourite book or books now? The Book Thief and Broken, both are brilliant, moving, page turners.

What is your favourite quotation? “How do you know he was Spanish? Or a sailor? He could’ve been a Pakistani postman if you were that drunk!” Dessie Curley – The Snapper.

Who is your favourite fictional character? Sophie’s choice – just can’t pick one . . . too many greats, but Dessie Curley is up there.

Who is the most underrated Irish author? My agent says me! but I think Clare Allen.

Which do you prefer – ebooks or the traditional print version? Print, both to look at, feel and read.

What is the most beautiful book you own? Being from Kerry I love the imagery from Parklands.

Where and how do you write? In my bed like Barbara Cartland, with a laptop on my lap and my three dogs sleeping around me.

What book changed the way you think about fiction? Birdsong. I don’t know why that book affected me so much, but reading it was an unforgettable experience.

What is the most research you have done for a book? My latest novel The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes. It was important to get everything right.

What book influenced you the most? Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy. When I was 20 I was hit by a car. I read the book during a stay in hospital, and by the time I was released I knew I was going to be a writer.’

What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday? As everyone has different tastes, I think I’d buy a kindle and let them chose for themselves

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Talking isn’t writing. Don’t be afraid of the delete button and never take no for an answer.

What weight do you give reviews? Very little, positive press reviews are flattering, but ultimately the only ones that matter are from the people who’ve put their hands in their pockets.

Where do you see the publishing industry going? I don’t know. That’s a terrifying question.

What lessons have you learned about life from reading? Human nature is extraordinary.

What has being a writer taught you? Life teaches me, writing is just my way of regurgitating what I’ve learned.

Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party? Roddy Doyle, Oscar Wilde, JK Rowling, Dawn French, Sidney Sheldon and David Walliams.

What is your favourite word? Currently it’s “tuppence”.

If you were to write a historical novel, which event or figure would be your subject? It would be a story of the Irish men and women involved in the first World War.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is out now published by Transworld Ireland.

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