In The Lounge

‘I’d love to learn how to flatten someone’: A Q&A with Cathy Kelly

Sunday Times bestselling author, Cathy Kelly is published around the world. She is loved for her warm Irish storytelling, always with an uplifting message, sense of community and strong female characters at the heart. We sat down for a chat with Cathy ahead of the publication of her wonderful new novel It Started With Paris.

Who is your favourite author?

Impossible to name one but I do come back again and again to the incomparable Maeve Binchy. Her books just make me happy with their kindness and warmth. Plus, she was the most wonderfully skilled writer: easy to read is very much not easy to write. She could nail a character in one line. This is a combination of both gift and huge skill. A joy to read

What book do you most often recommend to friends?

Oooh, usually something I’ve just read. Right  now, I keep telling all my thriller friends to read Becky Masterman’s novel, Rage Against the Dying.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I make filter coffee, try not to add too much sugar (failing at that one!) and then reread what ever I wrote the day before. I spend ages editing and then, I can launch myself into writing something new.

 If you weren’t a writer what job would you liked to have gone into?

I used to want to be an artist as I loved art but would never have been original enough. I would have been a penniless artist for sure. Now, I think I’d like to be a psychoanalyst.

 What is the best thing about being a writer?

As a working mother, the absolute best thing is that I can bring my sons to school, pick them up and help them with their homework – although the maths is getting weird… They do sums differently these days. It’s a huge privilege to be your own boss and structure your day around your family.

 What one item could you not live without?

Probably and shamefully my phone. I am panicked in case I am not reachable for the children or my husband.

 Tell us something that will shock your readers?

OMG, where would I start…!! Only kidding. I long to write a crime novel (when I finish writing a teenage one!). I know this is a pipe dream but I so love crime and that’s probably why I love the Becky Masterman novel so much – she has written about a female detective and I’d long to do that. I may be only five foot nothing but would love to learn how to flatten someone with Tae Kwan Do (like my fabulous niece, who is only a bit away from being a black belt).  You’d need to know how to flatten someone in order to write about it, wouldn’t you?

 What makes you happy?

Being with my family.

 What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

In Irish families, advice comes flying from every angle, so there is so much of it to recall!! But one of my favourites is actually from Groucho Marx, who was one of my teenage heroes, and his advice is ‘be yourself, everybody else is taken.’

 The members of my dream book club would be . . .

Probably all my writer friends like Marian Keyes, Emma Hannigan, Patricia Scanlan, Fiona O’Brien, Ella Griffin, Kate Thompson and Sheila O’Flanagan. The only way for authors to talk about books is probably with other authors because we’d be coming at it from a different angle, I think. Although chances are, we’d be so busy chatting, we might not get much time to talk about the book!!

Cathy’s funny, emotional and heart-warming new novel It Started With Paris is out now.

Cathy Kelly

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. A No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia, her trademark is warm Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.

She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland.