Hey, Author!

Hey, Author! is my very own place to find out things about my favourite authors that other blogs just don’t ask. The nitty-gritty. The dirt. The skinny.

Not stuff about their forthcoming books, or their writing process, none of that high-brow shenanigans thank you – no – Hey, Author! is about getting to know the person behind the bestseller.

So let’s get to it.

One of my ABSOLUTE favourite books of 2016 was The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, so when Cynthia graciously agreed to take part in my Hey, Author! blog, I was more than a little delighted. I love to feature authors from outside of Ireland (if only to get tips for where to eat when I’m on holidays), but with a name like Sweeney, I’m thinking this girl fits right in here.

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So, Ms. Sweeney. We like the look of your book. (In truth, I’ve been banging on about it for months.) But before my readers press download on their kindle devices, there are some things they really need to know.

What is your:

Favourite night out in your hometown?

The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles is a truly magical place. The first time I went there the summer after we moved to Los Angeles it was to hear one of my idols, Etta James, open for a young lady whose debut album I quite liked but didn’t know too much about: Adele. Etta James was sick that night, but Adele was magnificent and she’s done pretty well since then. When you see a concert at the Bowl, if you’re lucky enough to sit in one of the boxes, waiters bring you food and drink throughout the evening. The weather is always sublime, the air fragrant and the wine flows freely!

Favourite skincare/haircare product?

Is there such a thing as a product slut? If there is, I’m it. I don’t swear allegiance to anything and am particularly susceptible to packaging that borders on institutional and costs a fortune. The hair conditioner I’m using now is in a plain white bottle that says “CONDITIONER” in a plain black font. I bought it a fancy salon and it was ridiculously expensive, but smells great.

beauty

Illustration by Jennifer Melchi

 

Favourite book of all time? (Just one!)

This is a terrible question for a writer! But I’ll lean Irish and say that James Joyce’s story “The Dead” is one of my favorite pieces of writing and something I read again and again.

(Interesting fact – the house at 15 Ushers Island on the river Liffey in Dublin where Joyce’s aunts lived and where The Dead was purportedly set, is currently up for sale for any Joycians with €550,000 in loose change… -Ed.)

Joyce

Favourite clothes shop?

I have a new favorite clothes shop although it only lives on the Internet. Everlane is based in San Francisco and the clothes are classic, well-made, affordable and ethically produced. I did an enormous closet clean-out in the spring and basically started rebuilding my wardrobe using the Everlane site. I really love their stuff.

(Me too! Hurry up and deliver to Ireland, guys! -Ed.)

Favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?

This is almost as hard as picking a favorite book. I’m going to make it easy on myself by choosing the place I ate last night: Lucky’s in Montecito, California. It’s a classic little steak and fish place right outside of Santa Barbara and the local sand dabs—which I guess are a little like Dover sole—are sublime. The martinis aren’t shabby either.

Favourite bar anywhere in the world?

I’m old enough to remember when McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City allowed women in the bar (they were finally forced to by law), but didn’t provide restrooms for women (their little protest). My friends and I would spend long Saturday afternoons drinking one of the two kinds of beer they have on tap—light or dark—and eating plates of cheese served with sliced raw onion and the house mustard. When it was time to go to the “ladies” room, you’d recruit a few male friends to usher you past the line of urinals and stand guard at the stall. As you can tell, it was very fancy. I still love an afternoon at McSorley’s and it’s still “light or dark,” but the ladies have their own loo now.

McSoleys

Favourite movie?

Casablanca. Always and forever.

CasablancaPoster-Gold

Favourite band/musician?

I have a soft spot for the classic jazz singers, especially the women, and Ella Fitzgerald is the queen. The person I’ve seen in concert most often is Elvis Costello and one of my favorite recent concerts was the Diana Ross at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. That woman is 73 years old and descended onto the stage on a swing while belting out “I’m Coming Out.” She was fantastic.

Favourite meal?

My mother is 100% Italian. She was born in the United States but all of her grandparents came over from Italy. Our family Sunday Sauce, a tomato sauce with pork and sometimes sausage and meatballs will always be my most comforting comfort food. When we move into a new apartment or house, one of the first things I make is that sauce. My husband calls it “seasoning the house.” As good as burning sage for getting rid of lingering bad spirits and summoning good ones.

Favourite tipple?

Summer: Gin and Tonic. Winter: Manhattan with rye whiskey, straight up with a luxardo cherry.

 

Well, it’s always winter weather over this neck of the woods, Cynthia, so as The First Lady of Song herself might say, we’ll have Manhattan!

To those of you who haven’t yet read Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s  The Nest – you are in for a treat – a therapeutic read for those with siblings, and a reminder of the dodged bullet for those without!

nest cover

Cynthia, it’s been wonderful finding out more about the places to go in LA and beyond. Come visit your Irish relatives soon, and perhaps you can pick up some local culinary ideas to rival Nonna’s.

Pint of Guinness, anyone?

Until next time on Hey, Author!

Sheena x

 

 

 

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Hey, Author!

Hey, Author! is my very own place to find out things about my favourite authors that other blogs just don’t ask. The nitty-gritty. The dirt. The skinny.

Not stuff about their forthcoming books, or their writing process, none of that high-brow shenanigans thank you – no – Hey, Author! is about getting to know the person behind the bestseller.

So let’s get to it.

My own second novel The Lake was published by HarperCollins on their Killer Reads imprint. I was lucky enough to be part of the first group of digital-first Killer Reads authors back in 2015 along with the fantastic Chris Curran, whose second novel Her Turn to Cry is out now, much to the delight of her many fans who raved about her first novel Mindsight.

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And wait for it – Chris will be launching the paperback of her new book at Hastings Pier Shop on Saturday 26th November 2016 between 12 and 3pm! Sure where else would you be?! You can grill her on her answers to the questions below in person there, and see the beautiful sights of Hastings while you are at it. Fantastic!

So let’s get started!

Hey, author. We like the look of your book. We might even buy it and read it. But first, there are some things we need to know. What is your:

Favourite night out in your hometown?

Drinks at sunset on Hastings Pier. Then a wander down to the Old Town for dinner in one of the many wonderful fish restaurants. Webbe’s is my favourite just now. It’s opposite the fish market and you can see the boats drawn up on the shingle so you know everything is just out of the sea. Then we might take in some live music at Porters wine bar.

Favourite skincare/haircare product?

I’m a bit of a cheapskate so I usually go for anything on offer, but I do like Olay because my mum used when it was called Oil of Ulay. I always thought that sounded like something from The Arabian Nights and that it might have magic powers. On evidence collected to date however it doesn’t!

ulay

Favourite book of all time? (Just one!)

Oh no, that is too hard! Rebecca was the novel that made me want to write psychological crime, but my oldest and still my best love is a children’s book: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. For me it has more profound things to say about love, time, growing up and growing old than many a Booker or Pulitzer Prize winner. Each time I reread it I find new things to savour.

tom-mid-garden

Favourite clothes shop?

I have a dilemma because I don’t much enjoy shopping of any kind, but I do like clothes. Zara’s stuff often appeals to me and seems to fit me pretty well and I buy the occasional posh dress from Hobbs. Oh, and I do like rummaging for something vintage in a nice charity shop.

charity

Favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?

Crannog in Fort William, overlooking Loch Linney. They smoke their own fish and serve fabulous Scottish cheeses and puddings to die for.

Favourite bar anywhere in the world?

Dry Martini, Barcelona. Old-fashioned style par excellence. White coated waiters, comfortable armchairs, mellow jazz in the background and of course the best cocktails ever.

dry-martini

Favourite movie?

Nothing beats the oldies for me and if I could write a novel with a storyline as brilliant as Hitchcock’s Rear Window I’d die happy. However Some Like It Hot is an unbeatable joy. Hilarious Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis in his handsome youth channeling a great Cary Grant accent and some sublime shimmying from Marilyn Monroe, achingly vulnerable as the gorgeous Sugar.

some-like-it-hot

Favourite band/musician?

It’s mostly oldies again and moody for preference. Billy Holliday, Dusty Springfield, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Amy Winehouse and, to help me stay calm and cheerful when I’m driving and improve my French at the same time, I keep a Charles Trenet CD in the car.

Favourite meal?

My own lemon and black pepper roast chicken with crispy potatoes followed by homemade crème caramel. Ideally eaten with family and friends in the garden or in front of a lovely fire.

Favourite tipple?

Grey Goose vodka with Fentimans tonic, ice and a slice of lime.

grey-goose-vodka

Well, that makes a change from all those gin-swilling authors I’ve interviewed! I like your style, Ms. Curran.

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You can get your mitts on a copy of Chris Curran’s latest Killer Reads thriller Her Turn To Cry here, and do follow her on twitter here.

Thanks you for sharing your secret hideouts with us Chris! I can’t decide if I want to visit Hastings or Fort William more. After Barcelona, of course. As Charles Trenet might say,

BOUM!

 

Until next time on Hey, Author!

Sheena x

Hey, Author!

Hey, Author! is my new place to find out things about my favourite authors that other blogs just don’t ask. The nitty-gritty. The dirt. The skinny.

Not stuff about their forthcoming books, or their writing process, none of that high-brow shenanigans thank you – no – Hey, Author! is about getting to know the person behind the bestseller.

So let’s get to it.

The next writer on my Hey, Author! list is the lovely Ava McCarthy from Dublin in Ireland, whose new thriller Dead Secret is out now. When Ava isn’t writing crime fiction, she’s busy doing whatever it is nuclear physicists do, so I’m going to take her beauty products tips very seriously.

Ava-McCarthy

So, Ava McCarthy! We like the look of your book. We might even buy it and read it. But first, there are some things we need to know. What is your:

Favourite night out in your hometown?

Drinks in a cosy Dublin pub, followed by a good dinner. Favourite restaurant of the moment is Toscana in Dame Street.

 

Favourite skincare/haircare product?

John Frieda Frizz Ease – stops the hair turning into a chrysanthemum on the walk from the pub to the restaurant.john_frieda-656x478.png

Favourite book of all time? (Just one!)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It started a world of story-telling for me and my children, and the shared memories are a huge part of their childhood.

Favourite clothes shop?

Oasis on Stephen’s Green. Miraculously, there’s always something that fits!

Favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?

My local pub, The Wishing Well in Blackrock, Dublin. Perfect for family outings: nice food, good value; always sport on the TV for husband and son, while myself and daughter talk books & film.

Favourite bar anywhere in the world?

The Horseshoe Bar in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. Someone once handed me an engagement ring there… (Awwww…..! Ed.)

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Favourite movie?

The Bourne Identity. Great thriller, and Matt Damon can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

Favourite band/musician?

Adele. Very talented lady. Singers are one thing, but singer-songwriters are artists that create something special.

Favourite meal?

Scampi and chips. It’s been my official birthday meal ever since I was seven years old.

scampi

Favourite tipple?

That’s easy: a big warm glass of fruity Merlot. Oh, and leave the bottle…

wine

A lady after my own heart, Ava! And thanks for some great ideas for places to eat in Dublin!

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Ava’s new novel Dead Secret is out now, and if you enjoy that (which I know you will) don’t forget to check out her other books including her Harry Martinez series of thrillers.

You can follow Ava on twitter and on her website too.

Keep watching out for more Hey, Author! posts right here, very soon!

 

It’s Here!

This writing business isn’t big on instant gratification.  I started writing my second novel The Lake back in 2012, and it’s only today, three years later, that I can finally share it with the world, thanks to my agent Ger Nichol, my editor Sarah Hodgson and the Killer Reads team at HarperCollins in London.

I loved researching it, I loved writing it, and I truly hope you love reading it.

Now I’m off to write number three.  See you all in 2018…

One Day To Go….

So tomorrow, my novel THE LAKE will be published by HarperCollins Killer Reads.

I feel a little like I should be doing something constructive, but what I’m not sure. Housework, maybe? I’m reminded of what it felt like being pregnant the day before my due-date, although at least I know the book won’t be two weeks late and weigh over 11lbs.

If you’re reading this, the nicest thing you can do for me right now is go on to Amazon and pre-order, or if you already have (THANK YOU) tell your friends to.

I’m going to hoover the sitting room.