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My Money: 'I feel very lucky to have a secure roof over my head and a family around me'



Irish Author Niamh Boyce. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.

Irish Author Niamh Boyce. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.

Irish Author Niamh Boyce. Copyright Miguel Ruiz.

Award-winning Irish writer Niamh Boyce grew up in Athy, Co Kildare. She now lives in Ballylinan, Co Laois, with her partner and three children, Rosie, Joshua and Donagh.

Her debut novel, The Herbalist, was a critically acclaimed bestseller. Her second novel, Her Kind, was published a few weeks ago. For more information, visit penguin.co.uk.

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

In most careers, putting in the hours, working hard and creating good work results in financial reward. In the writing world, it's not always so.

I conducted research a while ago and the results were quite harrowing - many excellent writers, who would be viewed as established, were earning far less than they did at the beginning of their careers.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The old hexagon-shaped 50p coin. You could get a lot of sweets such as Fruit Salads and Blackjacks with it.

Has the current coronavirus crisis taught you anything about money?

All of my writing work has been cancelled, so that income went overnight. However, I feel very lucky to have a secure roof over my head, a warm house and my family around me. Others aren't so lucky - and we are much more interdependent than we think. We must be kinder - and when this is over, we must review our way of living.

The most expensive city you ever visited?

The food in Reykjavik was shockingly expensive.

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

My first car. I bought it after winning the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award. It had generous prize money.

What was your worst job?

I worked as a cleaner in a luxury nursing home in Germany when I was 20. Each patient's room was furnished like their own home - down to wallpaper, carpets, mahogany furniture, oil paintings, armchairs and ornaments. Stepping from the sterile white hall into each room was like going from black and white to colour. Far from being soothed by their surroundings, the patients were irritable and easily outraged. Staff received a lot of verbal abuse. It was a surreal, unhappy place.

Are you better off than your parents?

We have similar lifestyles - though I've had more freedom to travel thanks to Ryanair.

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

I've always fancied a house by a river surrounded by trees. I'd also help with my children's further education, housing or travel. And I'd donate to a housing charity or similar project - the level of homelessness in this country is heartbreaking.

The best advice you ever got about money?

It probably sounds archaic, considering how society operates nowadays, but it's the old chestnut of neither a borrower nor a lender be. It's something my grandmother often said.

iTunes or Spotify?

I don't have Spotify but my kids do, and they DJ when we're driving. I love hearing the bands they're into. They have great taste. Otherwise, I listen to radio or podcasts.

What was the last thing you bought online?

We're social isolating from the coronavirus, so I bought an Adidas pull-up bar for the kids. The world and its mother seem to be learning languages and completing projects, but I've no interest in being wildly productive. As far as goals go, staying sane will do fine. We take walks and have a laugh in the evening (we're watching Cuckoo). Most importantly, we haven't killed each other yet. Chocolate helps.

Would you buy Irish property now?

That house by a river would be a runner if I won those EuroMillions.

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

Books. Wi-fi. My car.

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