Mar­ian Keyes

Mar­ian, 55, is the best­selling au­thor of 13 nov­els and is a guest on The Tele­graph’s new My Life in Books pod­cast. She lives in County Dublin with her hus­band, Tony Baines

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - MY BOOKSHELF -

When I was 15, I wrote what I thought was an in­ter­est­ing es­say that poked mild fun at the Catholic Church, but I was kept be­hind after class and shamed so much that I gave up writ­ing. Ire­land in the late 1960s and ’70s wasn’t in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing chil­dren’s cre­ativ­ity or in­de­pen­dent thought.

Dur­ing my law de­gree at Dublin Univer­sity, I man­aged a wob­bly bal­anc­ing act be­tween drink­ing and study­ing, then spent week­ends in bed read­ing Mills & Boon. After a week of law text­books, the ‘throb­bing man­hoods’ were a stress-re­liever.

It never oc­curred to me that I could be a writer, but one day I sat down and wrote a short story, which won a prize. Four months later, I crashed and burned with al­co­holism, end­ing up in re­hab, but af­ter­wards

I had writ­ing wait­ing for me.

My first novel, Wa­ter­melon, was born out of pure panic. I’d told peo­ple I was work­ing on a novel (I wasn’t, but wanted to ap­pear se­ri­ous), so when a pub­lisher asked to see it, I quickly wrote four chap­ters. Panic can be a great mo­ti­va­tor.

Once I had an episode of de­pres­sion that was so cat­a­strophic I was cer­tain I’d never write again. It lasted four years. On the less bad days, writ­ing was a help – it re­minded me that the per­son I once was might still be in­side of me.

My new novel, The Break, was in­spired by re­search that said our ex­tended life ex­pectancy in­flu­ences our at­ti­tudes to long-term re­la­tion­ships. It seemed a timely sub­ject to ex­plore.

Ev­ery day I write from 9am to 1pm, although a lot of that time is just me sit­ting star­ing at the screen in de­spair. My lunch break is meant to last an hour, but of­ten I fall down a Twit­ter hole, or I end up look­ing at shoes on Net-a-Porter or vil­las in Greece. I can be dis­tracted by any­thing. Lis­ten to Mar­ian Keyes talk about her life, loves and favourite books on The Tele­graph’s new pod­cast se­ries My Life in Books, also fea­tur­ing in­ter­views with Jojo Moyes, Ruth Jones and Louis de Bernières; mylife in­books.pod­cast.tele­graph.co.uk

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