Saturday 25 May 2019

Write side... with novelist Felicity Hayes-McCoy


Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Novelist Felicity Hayes-McCoy on living between London and Dingle, and having Maeve Binchy as a teacher

How did you end up living in two places - London and Dingle?

I came to Corca Dhuibhne as a student studying Irish. Immediately, I loved the physical beauty, the people and the culture. But I was always going to be an actress - and that meant going to London. I came back to Dingle with my husband, who is English, and bought a site with a tumbledown house. We spend two weeks here and two weeks there.

What was it like having Maeve Binchy as a teacher at school?

She taught French, Latin and history, and was a great teacher. She was tall and imposing, and at that time she didn't suffer fools - she had a mind like a steel trap. By the time I knew her in adulthood, she was one of the kindest women I'd ever met. She was extremely disciplined - and I learned from that.

What is your new novel, The Month of Borrowed Dreams, about?

It's about my librarian character Hanna Casey who has started a club showing films based on popular novels. People project on to books and works of art in their own lives. The underlying theme is: what is real and what is not real.

Is women's fiction taken seriously enough in Ireland?

The publishing industry packages the books written by women in ice-cream colours. It doesn't recognise that we are writing about real social conditions. We are not writing about victimhood. People shouldn't assume that women's popular fiction has lesser value than literary fiction.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

God forgive me, I could have been a politician. I have always been interested in how societies and communities work.

Which books would you take to a desert island?

I love biographies - so I would take Claire Tomalin's biography of Samuel Pepys. I would also take The Best of Myles by Flann O'Brien. I can laugh at that stuff for the millionth time.

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