Rebecca Hardiman’s debut novel Good Eggs was inspired by a chance encounter in a retirement home, as well as memories of her Irish family …
Irish-American writer Rebecca Hardiman worked as an editor on a design magazine but now writes full-time from her home in New Jersey which she shares with her husband, children and several pets. A chance encounter in a retirement home and memories of her Irish family provided the inspiration for her debut novel, Good Eggs (Simon & Schuster, €14.29) featuring wayward grandmother Millie Gogarty.
ON HOME I live with my husband and children in a Victorian house in South Orange, New Jersey. It’s cosy and chaotic. We have three teenagers who are invariably tromping through, rooting around the fridge for a second meal one hour after dinner. My favourite spot is the upstairs porch – it has a kind of Moroccan vibe with twinkly lights, candles and plants. When our friends come over on summer nights, we hang out there and drink wine.
ON MY NEIGHBOURHOOD We live in a small suburb, 30 minutes from New York City, but because we’re in town, it doesn’t feel suburban. From our house, you can walk to a sort of Main Street with coffee shops, restaurants, an ice-cream store, a little park, even a movie theatre. You can’t pop into the post office or library without seeing a friend or neighbour.Many people move here from Manhattan and Brooklyn, as we did once we started having kids; the houses have a lot of character and it’s a liberal bastion, known for being inclusive and diverse. The people are, by far, the best thing about my town. You might come home one day to find that your neighbour has shovelled your driveway, offered your son a summer job or left freshly baked bread on your doorstep for no good reason.
ON MY DESK I wrote my novel on and off over years while I was raising my sons. I rarely worked at a desk or any specific area – it was more a case of wherever I could snatch time – the kitchen table, the car, a coffee shop. It was a totally portable undertaking. Since then, I’ve set up a little office with a real desk. Having a dedicated writing space, separate from everyone, is amazing. I have a kettle and a coffee machine, plenty of light and a tiny painting my husband gave me of a girl on the Brooklyn Bridge playing a violin.
ON ROOTS My mom is from Dublin and my dad was American. When I was four, my parents moved from Europe to the US and divorced soon after. My mom stayed in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised my older brother and me there. I’m sort of a hybrid – born in Italy, fully American, but reared on a steady diet of all things Irish – food, sensibility, habits, tea. Friends and family from Dublin would come and stay and marvel at the Ohio snowbanks and the rollercoasters, and, in turn, my mom would take us “home” to visit our grandmother, whom I adored.
ON WRITING I always kept journals. I filled one entire journal with my Irish “adventures” – burning toast, going to mass, shopping in town with my mother. I loved Dublin – the city centre, the buskers, The Diceman. Years later, I drew upon my time there as I wrote Good Eggs, though the idea started as an American story. At school, a friend and I performed our mandatory community service at a nursing home where we met a woman called Dorothy. Dorothy sang dirty ditties and asked us to sneak her in some beer. Later, I happened upon an item in the local paper about two elderly ladies who planned an escape from their nursing home. Their destination? Burger King! I merged Dorothy’s rebellious nature with the idea of a nursing home breakout and wrote it as a screenplay, but it was a disaster. Then I started thinking about all the time I’d spent in Ireland and the script eventually morphed into a novel about an Irishwoman who embarks on a madcap adventure, not with her nursing home friend, but with her teenage granddaughter.
ON WHAT’S NEXT On a sort of lark, two old friends and I started writing a TV pilot. Writing a novel is so solo, every decision, for better or worse, is yours. In a group, you’re not remotely in charge, you have to compromise and fight for the joke you think is funny and relent when it’s a dud. I’m also developing an idea for a novel about a boy who never gets picked up from summer camp. A horrible jerk has locked him in the pool shed and his parents are on their way when …
Hardiman’s novel Good Eggs (Simon & Schuster, €14.29) is available in booksellers now.
Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.