“There’s no black or white in RELATIONSHIPS”
Irish author Marian Keyes is loved by her readers and fellow authors alike. This month she returns with a new novel The Break. Cyan Turan is captivated
The Break is about a married Irish couple, Amy and Hugh, who go on a break! Why?
I read about a woman who was married for 20 years and had an open marriage on weekdays. I realised we’re living longer, and so marriages are longer. I also thought about those in long-term relationships, who wanted to stay in them but experience single life. I wanted to show there’s no black or white in relationships, except in cases of abuse. When I was younger, I thought once you fell, you’d always be in love, but I’ve been married for 21 years and at times we’ve been very close, and others, less close. It’s the most realistic portrayal of a relationship I’ve written.
In the book, one of the characters has an abortion and posts about it online. Why was that storyline important to you?
In Ireland, abortion is illegal. Women don’t have agency over their bodies. And it struck me as not just wrong but hypocritical; everyone knows it happens anyway. No one is happy to have one, but the fact Irish women face the financial expense and emotional hardship of having it done far from home is awful. Now, more so with Trump, there’s a pushback to women’s rights, so we have to be more vigilant.
What is the toughest part of being a well-known writer?
The thought of disappointing people. This is a dream job, but now the book is out there in the world and
I have no power over it, it’s hard. I feel a kinship with my readers and want them to enjoy it. Guilt and shame are in my DNA, but I write a gratitude list each
night and it makes me get a grip again.
What’s your writing routine?
I write in my spare room from 9am until 1pm. Then I’ll either write an article, or do research or publicity. I finish at 6pm and take weekends off. I’m phenomenally lazy, and wouldn’t get anything done if there wasn’t a routine.
Do you have a favourite of your books?
Writers say their favourite book is the one they’re working on, because that still has the possibility of being perfect! I wrote The Mystery Of Mercy Close when I was ill with depression, and it was a great friend to me. It reminded me the person I wanted to be was still inside me.
What’s your next book about?
It’s an ensemble piece about three brothers, but mostly about their wives, girlfriends, and ex-wives. One of the women is a neo-marxist. I’m really heartened by the resurgence in socialism. I’ve got big hopes for those in their twenties and thirties.
The Break by Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph, £20; out 7th September)