“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

Red - - READS -

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)

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