Sunday 21 October 2018

Irish author Keggie Carew: 'It's very hard to live off being a writer...My advice is to have a second job'


Keggie Carew
Keggie Carew Business Desk

Keggie Carew is the author of Dadland, which won the 2016 Costa biography book award.

The story is a memoir about her father Tom Carew, who was born in Dublin. Carew herself was born in Gibraltar and brought up in Hampshire, England. She has lived in West Cork and Barcelona and now lives near Salisbury.

The film rights for Dadland have just been optioned for a TV series. Carew also has a new book - about toe-curling stories - coming out in early 2019. Visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career has taught you?

It's very hard to live off being a writer. My advice is to have a second job which is different to writing. A lot of writers end up teaching creative writing - but you should conserve your creative writing energy for writing.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

I never go to expensive countries as the expensive countries are often the cold ones. My husband went to Sweden and the taxi from the airport cost a fortune, whereas I hired a taxi and driver in Myanmar for the day and it cost $30.

What's the best advice you got on money?

My dad said you can use money well or use it badly - and that it's easier to do bad things with money than good things, but that the good things you do with it make you happier. Whenever dad lent money to anyone who was in trouble, he always said not to give it back to him - but to pass it to someone else who needs it, and to tell them to do the same.

What's your favourite coin?

Some of the pre-euro Irish coins from when I lived in West Cork. The old punt coin with the stag, the woodcock 50p, the 10p salmon, and the older coins with hares and harps.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

Our camper van, which we kitted out to our own specification. We go off for as long as we can in it. We try never to plan or book anything.

What was your worst job?

Being a waitress. I was a terrible one, and in one week, I got sacked three times. You can read about it in my next book of terrible true stories.

What was your best financial killing?

We bought a burnt-out wreck of a warehouse in London in 1992 which was 3,000 sq ft and a 10-minute walk from Liverpool Street Station. It cost £70,000 (€78,500).

Are you better off than your parents were?

Yes, but only because we were lucky enough to have bought the old warehouse.

If you won the euromillions, what would you do with the money?

We would buy as much land as we could and turn it into a nature reserve. We already have a small 16-acre nature reserve near where we live where we try to make kids aware of nature.

iTunes or Spotify?

I love Spotify. Before, I had to go into over-heated music shops for hours with headphones and ask the assistant to play me things - and then come out with a crashing headache

What was the last thing you bought online?

I have been buying a lot of books about beavers for a new book which I'm working on about our relationship with the natural world.

Would you buy property now?

I would if I could buy a nice converted eco-warm barn - surrounded by a nature reserve with a pond in which I could swim every day.

Do you ever haggle?

Not in poor countries - I once saw an ugly scene in Sumatra where a tourist battled down a young impoverished woman to her rock-bottom price and then walked away. I asked her what was she doing; she said she was only having a bit of fun. I was so disgusted I never haggled again.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Our campervan, books, and decent wine and food.

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