While she’s not busy in her role as Arts and Media Correspondent for RTE, SINÉAD CROWLEY is the author of two crime novels that were picked up by the Irish Book Awards. She tells SOPHIE GRENHAM about escaping to Dingle, finding time to write as a working mother and her memories of U2’s JOSHUA TREE tour …
Sinéad Crowley already had a demanding journalistic career spanning the best part of twenty years before she put pen to paper. Sinéad is Arts and Media Correspondent for RTÉ, working for television, radio and online and now the title of author joins her already bursting CV. Her debut thriller, Can Anybody Help Me? (Quercus, 2014), was an instant hit in Ireland. Her second novel, Are You Watching Me? (Quercus, 2015), is Detective Claire Boyle’s exciting second outing. Both titles have been short listed for Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards two years running. Sinéad lives in Dublin with her husband and two sons.
I live in Whitehall in North Dublin but I work in Donnybrook so I travel across the city daily. I love where I live, it’s only a couple of miles from O’Connell Street, very near the M50 and the airport and only a couple of miles from Clontarf if I want to see the sea. So lots of options. As we have two young children we don’t tend to socialise at night as much as we used to, but there are lots of cafes around for day time visits – I do quite a bit of writing in cafes too. My favourite coffee shop is probably Costa Coffee in the Omni Centre as it is attached to a bookshop – Easons – and cafes and bookshops are the best combination!
When at home I write in the kitchen, at the kitchen table. At the moment I can see a clothes horse full of clothes to be put away, a pile of toys and a bookcase where Lego vehicles are blocking the view of the books. Not very romantic. To be honest I have written in my car, in cafes, in bed – anywhere I can get a spare moment. I envy writers who take weeks away in retreats but I have to face facts, I have a full time job and small children so I snatch minutes when I can. My writing style has evolved to fit the circumstances too, I tend to think about the story during the day and then write at night in short, intense bursts.
I love Chapters in Parnell Street, I literally can’t pass the door without going in. It reminds me of the second hand book shops I loved when I was a child. I was a devoted library user when I was small but we didn’t buy many books, unless we got book tokens for presents of course. But anytime we passed a second hand shop, particularly on holidays we were allowed to spend our holiday money there and I have some terrific old editions of classic children’s books because of this. I do most of my Christmas shopping in Chapters, actually. Books are easy to wrap.
The books I read as a child made me into the reader and writer that I am today, classic novels by writers like LM Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott. It didn’t matter when or where they were set, they transported the reader into the heart of the story and made the rest of the world disappear. In fact many of the books I loved featured young women who wanted to be writers – funny that. I’m also hugely influenced by the music of U2. The first proper gig I ever saw was U2 on the Joshua Tree tour in Croke Park in 1987. I was only thirteen, and very lucky that I was allowed to go. Dublin was a quiet and small place in the 1980s and it was wonderful to see a band from the city become ‘the biggest band in the world.’ I’ve been a fan ever since.
At home I love Kerry, especially Dingle, even though I don’t get to go down as often as I would like. Before we had children we loved traveling around the States and I hope we can go back as soon as they are a bit older. But for the past few years we’ve been traveling to an island called Zakynthos in Greece every summer. It’s absolutely beautiful. Like most Greek islands it has its wild side but if you stick to the smaller resorts like Alykanas and Alykes it is idyllic and very child friendly.
I’ve been a journalist for 20 years and I love my day job but writing fiction lets me use my brain in a different way which is like a break in itself. Yes, it’s difficult to find time but it’s like running a marathon or doing a degree as a mature student – if you really want to do it you’ll make space in your life. I write at night after the kids are in bed and find I can be quite productive in the space of an hour or two if I turn off Twitter. I don’t watch much TV any more, just a couple of hours at weekend but the sacrifice is worth it.
Can Anybody Help Me? (€12.65) and Are You Watching Me? (€10.99) are available from bookshops nationwide.
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