| SYDNEY, April 1
SYDNEY, April 1 (Reuters Life!) - She's topped bestseller
lists all over the world, but it's her home country, Ireland,
that excites and inspires popular fiction author Cathy Kelly.
Born in Belfast and raised in Dublin, Kelly started her
writing career as a journalist in an Irish newspaper.
Her first book, "Woman To Woman", was published in 1997 and
became a bestseller almost overnight, and 12 years -- and 11
books -- later, her writings, which tend to focus on women and
relationships, are as popular as ever.
Kelly, who is an ambassador for the U.N. children's fund
UNICEF, recently spoke to Reuters in Australia, where she was
promoting her latest novel "Once in a Lifetime".
Q: What started you writing novels?
A: "I've always wanted to write, but I just never thought I
could write about our life and the world we live in. But while
working as a newspaper journalist, I interviewed the then "new
girl" on the Irish writing scene, Patricia Scanlan, and she
changed it for me. I remember thinking that her book, "City
Girl", was such a contemporary book. Maeve Binchy also
influenced me. She wasn't writing about old Ireland either, but
about contemporary women."
Q: Ireland has a rich literary tradition, but now we're
seeing a lot of successful Irish women authors on the scene
such as Marion Keys and Cecilia Ahearn. Is there any rivalry?
A: "I know it would make a much better story to say we are
all rivals, but no, we're not rivals we're friends. We go out
for lunch, we have meetings. I sent my latest book to Marion
Keys in the very early stages and she loved it and that gave me
great confidence. I think the pie is big enough for all of us.
Q: Where do you get inspiration for your characters?
A: "Ideas come from the weirdest places. It's very rare
that I can pinpoint exactly where an idea came from. There was
one book where I got the character after listening to the
Scissors Sisters' song "Take Your Mama Out". I thought wouldn't
it be great to have a character who was absolutely wild in her
youth and now she's incredibly settled and everyone thinks
she's this little square person but actually she has a big
Q: In your latest novel, you go back to pre-Christian
Ireland. Is that something you want to explore further?
A: "Absolutely, I love that stuff! I loved writing Star's
character in my latest book. I'd written half the book and
didn't like it and then she came to me. I love that
pre-Christian era, it's very powerful. I think we're ready to
hear about it more too. Maybe the difference is with this
global meltdown we are ready to look at something deeper."
Q: Do you intend to weave threads of ancient Ireland into
A: "It's happened a lot more because I love ancient
Ireland, we've got a wonderful history and a wonderful culture.
People say how can books set in Ireland work around the world,
but I think I talk about things that work everywhere: life,
relationships, grief, whatever. But, it's lovely to have little
things that are intrinsically Irish."
Q: How does being a writer help you in your role as a
A: "Writers fame is very different to Hollywood or music
fame, but it's brilliant thing to be able to give something
back. In my previous book I mention "if it takes you four days
to read this book, by the time you've read it 5,000 children
will have died from HIV." I write books that gives me a certain
platform to talk to people about something they may not have
heard about. UNICEF is just an incredible organisation to work
(Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Miral Fahmy)