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Q&A with chick lit author Cathy Kelly

Cathy Kelly has brought us eight novels filled with fun and friendship. Her books focus around the friendships and relationships in various womens? lives and her latest offering, Always and Forever, is no different. Mel is realising having a career and caring for her two young children isn?t all it?s cracked up to be. Daisy is dreaming of being a mother when her boyfriend sends her world crashing around her. Cleo is young and spirited and armed with a hotel management degree, is hoping to help run her family owned hotel, however her parents have other ideas. We closely follow their three independent stories in the picturesque town of Carrickwell until a mysterious newcomer, Leah, opens up the Clouds Hill spa on the outskirts of town. RRP $29.95 but only $26.96 if you buy from the SheSaid bookshop


Why did you always want to be a novelist?
I loved escaping into the world of books when I was a kid and then, one day, it dawned on me that I could be a part of that magic and actually write. I can?t pin-point when that happened but it stayed with me through school and college, right up to the point when I finally got the courage to write in my late twenties.

What do you think the secret is to your success?
On one level, I?m still so stunned that I have success that I find it hard to analyse ? perhaps that?s a very Irish thing. I hope my success is because I can make people laugh. I adore jokes and one-liners, and in my books, no matter what happens to the characters, they can laugh at both life and themselves. If there?s any secret, I guess that?s it

Your characters always seem so real. Where does the inspiration come from?
From watching real people. I?m watch, listen and try to work out where people are coming from ? that inspires me. When the person behind you in traffic honks their horn at you, I find myself wondering what happened in their day to make them do that. Sounds corny, but true. All writers are asked if they model characters on real people, and most ? including me ? say, with total honesty, that they don?t. I use my imagination to create people and use a combination of intuition and people-watching to round them out.

Is there a character in one of your books that is based on you?
No. There?s a part of me in all of them in that somewhere, deep in each one, they probably share my core beliefs, but none of them are me. Sometimes I write characters and give them abilities I?d like to have, just to see what it feels like.

If you were speaking to someone who hadn?t read one of your books, how would you describe them?
Aagggh, hard question… They?re books about real modern women faced with modern dilemmas. They?re not perfect, model-type-women; they have fat days; problems with kids and men; and they do not own wardrobes full of Gucci. My books deal with relationships, life, your girlfriends, and, in the case of Mel in Always & Forever, how to cope with juggling kids and work.

Describe your typical day
I get up when my twin sons, Murray and Dylan, decide they?ve had enough of bed. I guess this will change when they?re able to climb out of their cots and into our room, when that last five minutes in bed will disappear. I spend a lot of time with the boys, despite having somebody come in so I can go into my study and write. Instead of doing that, I take the boys out every morning and promise myself to write in the afternoon. I used to write eight hours a day ? now I manage perhaps four, but waste less time on my emails. In the evening, myself and my partner, John, and the boys chill out together, have dinner, and then we put the boys to bed, by which time I?m ready to collapse in front of the TV to watch CSI or Desperate Housewives.

Out of the books you?ve written, which is your favourite?
Always & Forever. It?s the first book I?ve written since becoming a mother, and it?s been such a wonderful time for me.

Where do you hope to be in five years time?
Still enjoying life with my family, still writing, and hopefully, doing more work for UNICEF. I?ve just been appointed one of UNICEF Ireland?s Global Parenting Ambassadors, which means highlighting the plight of the world?s 14million children orphaned by AIDS. I?ve just come back from a trip to Mozambique to see what being an AIDS orphan really means and it was both a heartbreaking and an uplifting trip. Statistics can be bewildering but imagine three quarters of the population of Australia as orphaned kids and that gives you an idea of the size of the problem. They literally have nothing when their parents die and UNICEF support them, try to keep them in the educational system, and give them hope. Go to www.unicef.org.au to help.