'I wondered how on earth we ended up where we did'
In her fourth novel Claire Kilroy has recreated the type of devilish characters who were involved in the property bubble, writes ARMINTA WALLACE
CLAIRE KILROY’s publicity schedule reads like any young writer’s dream. She has recently returned from Edinburgh International Book Festival, where she shared a stage with the poet and novelist Adam Thorpe.
She was in Enniskillen for the Beckett Happy Days celebrations, she joined David Mitchell for an evening session at the Mountains to Sea festival, in Dún Laoghaire. And there have been interviews of all shapes and sizes, including one with a drive-time radio show in Australia.
She’s not complaining. But she is expecting her first baby in November. “It’s okay for me to be tired. That’s fine,” she says. “But it’s not about me any more. I came home late from Edinburgh, and I was in bed, and I could feel your man inside, going bonkers. It was like a horror film. Trying to get out.”
Maybe he was just happy to be home, I suggest. “Maybe . . . but then I Googled it, and maybe he just had the hiccups.”
Babies, eh? Kilroy is just beginning to realise how much her life is about to change. “I’m being reprogrammed,” she says. “I see things now I just didn’t see before. It was always about getting the books done – chipping away at sentences. Now I’m buying swaddles.”
Meanwhile her other baby – in the shape of her fourth novel, The Devil I Know – has been attracting a great deal of interest for its full-on re-creation of the boom-and-bust period. Set in 2016, when a tribunal finally gets around to re-examining the whole Celtic Tiger property-bubble, banking-collapse shenanigans, this romp of a book records the evidence of one Tristram Amory St Lawrence, third earl of Howth, and his unlikely alliance with the dodgiest of dodgy builders, Dessie Hickey.
The tribunal’s attempts to order the boom-bust chaos is represented in The Devil I Know by the placing of questions and answers on separate pages. Kilroy smiles guiltily. “It’s my shortest book, in terms of word count – although it looks like my longest,” she says.
But she did construct the book in terms of 10 sequential days of evidence, of which the final day, naturally, is the most dramatically outlandish.
How did Kilroy come by her unholy pair of central characters? “The book began with Hickey,” she says. “He’s based on someone I knew at primary school. He was funny, but he was a messer. Definitely not somebody you’d want to be running things.”