'Gardening leave' in the Ahern household

Cecelia Ahern tells Róisín Ingle about her dad’s pumpkin growing, her new book deal and her secret wedding

Cecelia Ahern wrote her first book at just 21 and recently released her 11th novel: The Year I Met You. An astounding 22 million copies of her books have been sold around the world.

The film adaptation of her book Where Rainbows End is about to be released, and it’s called Love, Rosie.

Her latest novel is about a workaholic who gets fired and put on “gardening leave”, which means she can’t work anywhere for a year. The character decides to take it literally and grow a garden.

“The more she digs into the ground, the more she digs into herself, and the garden very much reflects her own character and her development,” she said.


The Ahern family have become gardeners themselves; they share an allotment. “I do the watering, and it’s for the kids. We plant it, and my dad’s kind of the boss of it all.”

She says her dad has green fingers, which he is currently using to grow pumpkins for Halloween.

Róisín asked how difficult it is for her to listen to her father being criticised.

“When he was in politics, I found it very easy…but now, I find it very difficult and hurtful because he’s out of it and he’s moved on and he’s older. I think it’s tougher to hear now.”


Cecelia talked about her unconventional relationship with her husband, film producer David Keoghan. They can choose their own hours and share responsibilities for their two children Robin (4) and Sonny (2). "So it's not traditional."

Róisín asked her about job pressures, being the breadwinner and the support she must get from David.

“He’s very cool, very understanding. I know a lot of men might have a problem with that, but he doesn’t. He helps me very much, and I need that. I’ve managed to find someone who’s not threatened by it. He doesn’t care.”

Secret wedding

Cecilia invited 20 family members to her daughter’s christening and surprised them with a wedding. She and David carried their daughter down the aisle.

“I didn’t want my dad giving me away because he never owned me to give me away in the first place…There was no cutting of cakes and no speeches,” she said.

“I don’t want to do what people think you should do. I want us to do what we’re actually happy doing.”

Accidental book

She usually writes one book a year, but this year she accidentally wrote a second one over the summer.

“This book, I don’t know where it came from.” It’s a young adult novel called Flawed that she wrote in six weeks. She got a two-book deal a few weeks ago. The second book will be called Perfect.

“It’s about a world that does not tolerate imperfection, which I believe is our world.” The main character makes a mistake, and she’s immediately considered “flawed” and has to wear an “f” on her sleeve and is branded with the letter “f”.

The message? “These days, you make one mistake and you’re gone. You’re really branded as being flawed,” she said.