The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Dublin, raised in Dublin and schooled in Dublin. Ireland.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was 12 I wanted to be 18, when I was 18 I wanted to be a girlfriend and at 30 I wanted to be exactly who I was and have fun.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That I will never, ever get married.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
5. Why did you choose to write a novel?
I really don’t believe that I chose to write a novel. I felt compelled to write one. Ever since I was a child, I had a busy head and the only way to make sense of things was to put pen to paper, when I got the idea for my first novel, I could barely think of anything else other than the characters that had arrived and the world that had developed. I put pen to paper and it all spilled out. When I don’t write I’m a very moody, confused, unsatisfied person.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
The Year I Met You is about a woman who defined herself by her career, and when she is fired and finds herself on ‘gardening leave’ and unable to work for one year, she suddenly has to figure out who she is without her work to hide behind. She also has to deal with family issues she has been ignoring and avoiding through simply being busy.
To find a new distraction she turns her obsession from work to her unpredictable neighbour across the street who is also having a personal crisis, and together they offer each other the company they need and unexpected healing to help each other through the dark moments.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I always hope people simply ‘get it.’ That they get the sarcasm when it’s supposed to be sarcasm, that they laugh when it’s supposed to be funny, that they’re moved when they’re supposed to be moved, that at the end they feel uplifted, and when they close the book like they’ve been through something – that it has affected them. That they got lost in the world that I created and that for the time they spent in it, it was worth it. Anything in addition to that is a bonus.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I admire anyone who is unique, who doesn’t do what they’re told, who doesn’t follow rules or stick to traditional story telling. Authors like Aimee Bender, Andrew Kauffman, Mitch Albom who have very distinctive voices and quirky minds.
My goal is always to finish everything that I start, and preferably finish it right away because I can barely think of anything else until it is completed. I spend the year writing each new novel in a kind of a frenzy, feeling like there isn’t enough time to get everything done, every moment must be used, no distractions, no let up. I’m hard on myself but it’s how I get things done. Working in TV is a challenge to me as it’s a completely different way of working. It’s collaboration as oppose to solitary process, which is my natural state.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I’ve done many events where aspiring writers hang on to every word looking for the clue, the thing that will help them to finally do it, or unlock the mystery. There is no secret thing that authors know that you do not know. There is no secret way of writing, of trying to get published. You just sit down, get a pen and paper and write the story that’s in your mind and heart. Keep writing until you have finished. Stop talking about it, stop analysing it all so much that it comes apart and just do it. Be brave. Be yourself. Use your own voice and then you will immediately be unique because there is nobody like you.
Cecelia, thank you for playing.
by Cecelia Ahern
A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author
Jasmine loves two things: her sister and her work. And when her work is taken away she has no idea who she is.
Matt loves two things: his family and the booze. Without them, he hits rock bottom.
One New Year’s Eve, two people’s paths collide. Both have time on their hands; both are at a crossroads. But as the year unfolds, through moonlit nights and suburban days, an unlikely friendship slowly starts to blossom.
Sometimes you have to stop still in order to move on…
Original and poignant, The Year I Met You will make you laugh, cry and celebrate life.
About the Author
Cecelia Ahern is an international bestseller. She was catapulted into the spotlight with her hit debut novel, P.S. I Love You, which was adapted into a major movie. Her subsequent novels have captured the hearts of readers in 46 countries – her themes strike a chord with people in every continent, with over 15 million copies of her books sold.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.