Prolific novelist CECELIA AHERN has sold nearly 25 million books worldwide, and two new FILM ADAPTATIONS in the works. Here she talks life in Malahide, inspiration from Anne Frank and her FAVOURITE JO MALONE SCENT …
Dubliner Cecelia Ahern is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of Ireland’s great success stories. Her books have sold over 25 million copies worldwide and have been translated into many languages.
Cecelia’s writing journey started at just 21 years of age with her debut novel, PS, I love You, in 2004. To date, the bestselling scribe has published a phenomenal fourteen novels in twelve years and a generous handful of short stories, as well as writing and producing material for television.
Cecelia’s relationship with Hollywood began with the big screen release of PS, I Love You in 2007, starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. In 2014 Love, Rosie was released, starring Lily Collins; the cinematic version of second book Where Rainbows End (2004). It seems that Tinseltown cannot get enough of Cecelia, as more film adaptations of her work have been optioned.
Earlier this year fans met the author’s darker side; with her first young adult (YA) novel, the hugely popular Flawed. The sequel, Perfect, is already set to hit bookshelves in March next year. Cecelia’s stunning new novel, Lyrebird, is out now.
I live in Malahide, Co. Dublin. I’ve lived here all of my life and love it because everyday I wake up and I see the sea, I breathe the fresh air. It is an idyllic village to live in. The seascape means that the view can be anything from calm to wild and I’ve learned, on my travels that I’m not the same person without this air or view. There are over forty restaurants in Malahide, but I’ve narrowed it down to three favourites; Kajjal, Bon Appetit and Seabank. All three are sublime.
When I’m writing I work outside of my home. My office is in Malahide village, a short walk from my home. I feel it’s important, with a family to take work outside of my house. I have a lovely view of the sea. I’ve a great space that feels like a very creative environment. I light Jo Malone candles when I’m writing; the scent is like a trigger, which gets me into the zone. I like Blackberry and Bay, Lime Basil and Mandarin, and Grapefruit. I also have a few pieces of art that I adore, some sculptures by Orla de Bri who hugely inspires me as she puts thoughts and feelings into 3D pieces, photography of Ireland by Peter Cox and an Eoin O’Connor painting.
On essential reading
I’m a fan of contemporary fiction and so people should just read whatever they want to read. Some of my favourite books are The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang. The authors I look forward to most each year are Karin Slaughter and Lee Child.
Kerry is the only place that I feel that I truly switch off. Something about the environment, the air, the mountains, lakes and sea just recharges me. I feel like I plug myself into the earth and am revived after a trip there.
On Young Adult fiction
Because my earlier novels were also read by a younger audience, I had been asked for years if I would write YA. I was always open to the idea of it but my style of working is that I have to wait for the idea to come to me, I can’t force it. And that’s what happened. Flawed arrived with a bang. It took over my mind. I wrote the first draft in six weeks, faster than I’ve ever written a novel before. I felt the adrenaline pumping as I wrote and loved every second of it. I had a lot to say and for that reason it’s a faster thriller-like read. Perfect, the sequel will be published in March 2017.
I’m very proud of my work in the past and if you read PS, I Love You and then Flawed or Lyrebird, you would think that I’ve jumped drastically from one novel to the next. But if you’re reading me all along then there’s a natural evolution in the fourteen novels. I look back and think perhaps my language would be better, but my heart was in those stories at those times and I wouldn’t be able to capture the same emotion as I did then because I have to write what I’m feeling at that particular time in my life.
I’m incredibly proud of both PS, I Love You and Love, Rosie. It’s overwhelming to meet the actors who will play my characters. It feels like they’ve leaped from the pages of my book. It’s quite a feeling to stand in a set that was first created in my head, and then is plucked from my imagination. I find it all so surreal and I get very emotional about it. I enjoy seeing somebody else’s interpretation of my story – as long as they keep the heart of the story, the core characters and they don’t change the ending then I’m happy. I was hugely moved by both productions. The exciting news is that Flawed and Perfect have been optioned by Wendy Finerman productions and WarnerBros, who are the same team behind PS, I Love You, so I’m hopeful we’ll see that on our screens too.
On what’s next
Lyrebird is about a young woman with a remarkable ability to mimic the sounds around her. Having grown up in isolation, she processes her emotions by repeating associated sounds. When she’s discovered by a documentary crew she’s catapulted from a quiet life into an international reality TV sensation. I wanted to tell an enchanting quirky love story that is also a meditation on sound.
Flawed (€9.99) and Lyrebird (€10.99) are published by HarperCollins and available nationwide.
Sophie Grenham @SophieGrenham
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