The Arts Interview: Roisin Meaney

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

Roisin Meaney
Although, I was born in Listowel, my father was transferred to Limerick when I was eight.

Although, I was born in Listowel, my father was transferred to Limerick when I was eight.

It has been my main place of residence ever since. I was educated variously at the Salesians, Laurel Hill, and Mary Immaculate College. Reading was always encouraged at home when I was growing-up, with both my parents being voracious readers, but no particular emphasis was placed on writing. The only other member of my family in the writing business is one brother, who is a copy editor and proofreader.

As I went through my teens and twenties I was never conscious of wanting to write.

Rather, it was something that manifested itself gradually, over many years. Before I wrote my first novel I attended a weekend writing course, but I cannot say that such courses are for everyone. Every writer I know has a different story about how they got started. I would say that you can’t be a writer without being a reader. That is a given as far as I am concerned.

My passion is for fiction, but not specifically romantic fiction.

I have always been an avid reader, and enjoy reading all sorts of fiction, from commercial to literary. My books are not just romantic reads; they are life stories, encompassing all levels of human interaction. When I write, I don’t think about who is going to read the book, or about the need to pander to the latest craze. Instead, I just write a story the way it wants to come out, and hope that it appeals to readers.

The book that I am currently writing is the only one that occupies my head at any given time.

My previous books have focused on those basic human interactions in which we have all engaged. They have examined how we deal with adversity, and how we are changed by outside influences every day. However, the book that I am writing, at the moment, digs a little deeper than the others. It is set in the aftermath of a murder in a rural Irish community where everyone knows everyone else. In the meantime, After The Wedding is due to hit the bookshelves in April and is a sequel to One Summer, which was published in 2012. The sequel continues the story of the residents of a small offshore island, and like its predecessor, spans the summer months there, detailing the ups and downs, in the lives, of its main characters.

For me, writing is simple. It involves getting up in the morning, switching on my laptop and seeing what comes out.

I start by constructing a plot, then, I develop my main characters before launching into their stories. I write most days but I do not have a set schedule. For example, I work for as long as it feels right, so it could be anything from three hours to eight. I have never missed a deadline, so I suppose that my subconscious is keeping me on track.

I am happy to go on writing in the hope that enough people will keep buying my books. If I wasn’t a writer, my dream would be to own and operate my own bakery!

In terms of sales my most recent book, Something In Common, was my most successful.

My third book, The Last Week Of May, was the only one that went to number one in Ireland. It is very hard to explain why one book is more successful than the others, because so many factors are in play. The time of the year it is published, the zeitgeist of the moment, or other new releases at the same time - all of these can influence how well or how badly a book performs. I just keep on writing stories that are grounded in reality, and hope for the best. I would love if one of my books was made into a film, but I would like to write the screenplay. I would, also, love to be in on the casting decisions, but that’s probably unrealistic. For example, it would be difficult for non-Irish actors to play my characters, as they are so intrinsically Irish.

There is nothing that I would change about my life apart from spreading the word a bit more about my books.

For example, I am doing what I can in terms of utilising the latest social media tools. I, also, enjoy doing school visits through Poetry Ireland who operate a Writers In Schools scheme. So far, I have had books published in the USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark and Italy. My children’s books have come out in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Spain and Australia. They have been, generally, well received (lots of emails from satisfied readers!) and there are more translations in the pipeline. I am fine about the solitary nature of writing, and as for motivation, all I have to do is to remember, that if I don’t produce a book, then I don’t get paid.

We are lucky to have a very vibrant arts and literature scene here, in Limerick.

There is the Limerick Writers Centre (LWC), the Kate O’Brien Weekend, the White House Poetry nights, The Belltable Film Club, monthly On the Nail readings, and lots more besides. I was in a few book clubs for a time but gave them up because I found it too frustrating not to be reading books that I chose for myself. I am a very slow reader and resented the time that I had to devote to reading books that did not particularly appeal to me.

I would not encourage or discourage anyone from being a writer.

It is a tough job with little enough reward for the vast majority. However, if you feel that you want to do it, strongly enough, then you won’t be happy, until you give it a try!

To read more about Roisin Meaney please see the following websites: and