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Thursday, August 9, 2012

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Cathy Kelly, Author Our Coverage Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, Official Dentist of Whom You Know

Cathy Kelly

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Cathy Kelly is a highly successful international bestselling author who is published globally in many languages.  
Born in Belfast but raised in Dublin, Cathy initially worked for thirteen years as a newspaper journalist with a national Irish Sunday newspaper, where she worked in news, features, along with spending time as an agony aunt and the paper’s film critic. However, her overwhelming love was always fiction and she published her first international bestseller, Woman To Woman, in 1997. She did not become a full-time writer until she had written another two books (She’s The One and Never Too Late) and finally decided to leave the world of journalism in 2001, moving to HarperCollins Publishers at the same time.

Someone Like You and What She Wants followed in successive years. Her sixth novel, Just Between Us, was her first Sunday Times number one bestseller, while her eighth novel, Always and Forever, topped the UK bestseller lists in October 2005, displacing Dan Brown and J. K. Rowling. In 2007, Past Secrets in was also a number one paperback bestseller.

Lessons in Heartbreak was shortlisted for the Eason Irish Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in April 2009. In September 2009, Once in a Lifetime topped the UK bestseller lists for three weeks. In March 2011, Homecoming achieved the same feat. Her recent short story collection, Christmas Magic, was a Christmas number one in Ireland.  
In Autumn 2011, Cathy headlined a search for a new writer on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show.  
Her thirteenth novel, The House on Willow Street, was published in March 2012 and Whom You Know highly recommended it:

Cathy’s trademark is warm story-telling and she consistently tops the bestseller lists around the world with books which deal with themes ranging from relationships and marriage to depression and loss, but always with an uplifting message and strong female characters at the heart.

Cathy also has a passionate interest in children’s rights and is an ambassador for UNICEF Ireland. Her role for UNICEF is a Global Parent, which means raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDs.

She lives with her husband, John, their twin sons, Dylan and Murray, and their three dogs in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. We are thrilled to present Cathy Kelly as our latest Mover and Shaker. Peachy Deegan interviewed Cathy Kelly for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first writing memory and how did it affect you? 
Cathy Kelly: I have a very clear memory of writing in an A4 spiral notebook when I was about eleven, sitting in bed at night. I can’t remember what I wrote that first time but later, I wrote lots of poetry in that book.

In writing your masterpieces, what process do you follow if any? Do you use an outline?
Thank you for saying masterpieces! Am thrilled! I come up with the characters first and then weave the story around them. I try to have an outline but find that a) the characters take over and the outline becomes obsolete and b) half way through the book, I end up with an entirely different idea for it anyway.

Are your characters based on yourself or people you know and how do you develop each so successfully?
I NEVER base my characters on real people and am astonished that anyone does. I’ve been told I’m an empathic person, I certainly feel for people and that certainly translates into my characterisations.

We strongly believe that Ireland has produced some of the best storytellers in history, regardless of whether each kissed the Blarney Stone or not-both in the written sense and oral storytelling-which do you admire the most and why?
I love Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes and MJ Farrell (Molly Keane) to name but a few. All write with wit, clarity and wisdom.

Do you try to emulate any writers? If so, who?
I think emulating anyone is the kiss of death. If you don’t write in your own voice, you’re in trouble.

What did you enjoy most about being a critic and while you were a critic, what did you like best that you critiqued?
I loved sitting in a large, mainly empty cinema on a Monday morning, coffee in hand and watching a movie. I mean, that was my job…great. I honestly can’t think of a stand out movie, which is probably testimony to the way my memory is going. If memory is a computer, my hard drive feels full.. What I liked least was having to say a film was bad. I somehow knew it hurt somebody – I had no idea how much, though!

What should everyone know about Ireland that they don't know yet?
That we do not sit around drinking whiskey all the time, saying ‘Begorrah’ in hideous accents and looking bewildered at shiny new things.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Probably my own head, which is a critic harsher than any other.

What are you proudest of and why?
My children. They make me smile every day.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I’d like to write a book for teenagers and a screenplay.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I was appointed a UNICEF ambassador which is a huge honour and I am recently back from a trip to Mozambique where I got to witness first hand the work being done to save children from malaria. I have received two writing awards, which were lovely. I once won the office lottery for the Grand National race and won a hundred quid. 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
The Shakespeare Garden in Central Park, which I love because of the beautiful plants, all of which are mentioned in the Bard’s plays.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Bloomingdales – but do those crazy shops on Canal St count?

What is your favorite drink?
Java coffee.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you but for the sake of proprietry, let’s go with my old favourite of saying ‘hello, lovely to meet you,’ to someone I’d met about four times before. This happens to me a lot.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Used to be an Italian off Hudson – the name entirely escapes me but the wife of the guy who runs it, drew a fabulous cartoon novel about her experiences with breast cancer - but am open to new experiences.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
Not wanting to sound all delighted with myself or anything, but I don’t want to be anyone else. That way madness lies. I am flawed in many ways but trying to be the best me I can takes all my time and brain power. The power grid would be entirely wrecked if I went off to be someone else.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
A garden somewhere, maybe in an area with disused old buildings and rubbish, and I could help restore it, so kids would have somewhere to play.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
None, sorry.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Walk around soaking up the wonderful atmosphere that is NYC. Can I just say that answering all these questions is really making me want to go to Manhattan RIGHT NOW!!!

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
I do have a yen to have dinner with Nelson Mandela. Why – because Madiba is amazing.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Going to MOMA is wonderful. I love art and used to paint, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to walk around looking at glorious artwork.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I’ve been a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador for seven years. This means that I travel to places UNICEF Ireland fund and then write and talk about it to raise funds. I’ve been to Mozambique twice, most recently a few weeks ago to focus on malaria prevention. Every fifteen minutes in Mozambique, a child dies of malaria. A simple mosquito net costing about 6 dollars can save lives. I’ve also been to Rwanda, a wonderful country where the people are working so hard to recover from the horror of the genocide. This work pretty much takes up all my time, although whenever I’m asked to help out other charities, I can’t say no.

Have you drank The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not? 
We haven’t got The Peachy Deegan here in Ireland although it looks impressive on your website.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I love hearing from readers and meeting them if I am on tour. I consider it a privilege to be able to do what I love for a living (writing) and work it around my family life (e.g. I get to bring my twin sons to and from school). I also knit badly. One day, I am going to join up all the long, aimless bits of knitting and make a throw…. Yeah, right.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Impossible question to answer as sadly I don't know Manhattan as well as I'd like to as I don't live there and don't get to visit as often as I'd like to.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
It would have to be 'For the Literary Set' as it covers areas that are of interest to me professionally.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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