Entertainment Books

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Write side with novelist Justine Delaney-Wilson


Justine Delaney-Wilson
Justine Delaney-Wilson
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Novelist Justine Delaney-Wilson on the 2007 furore over her first book and the solitary experience of writing fiction

You are best known for your 2007 book about Irish middle-class drug taking, High Society. What was the reaction like at the time?

I enjoyed writing it and people were very forthcoming. But then it was launched and all hell broke loose. I didn't see it coming.

Why was there such a strong reaction. Was it because of the claim that a politician was taking drugs?

It was. I don't know if Ireland is small and you can't say those things. You can't stick your head up, especially as an unknown person. If I had a strong back catalogue for non-fiction works, it would not have gone down the way it did. People attacked my credibility, because I was new.

How come your new novel Listen for the Weather is set in New Zealand?

My husband is from there and most of the novel was written there. We stayed in a coastal town, Maunganui, for seven months - and the kids went to school there.

Who gave you encouragement to write?

My parents gave me lots of encouragement in whatever I did - not specifically as a writer. They were both accountants. When I went to Trinity College, and I had lecturers like Brendan Kennelly and David Norris, it opened my eyes to the possibilities.

Can it be tough going writing novels?

Recently, I thought I am never doing this again. Towards the end, it can feel like such a long slog and you feel you are on your own. It's such a solitary, head-melting experience. Then you have the launch, everyone's lovely, you get nice feedback, and you get back on the horse.

Which book would you take to a desert island?

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright and Outline by Rachel Cusk. I also love Belinda McKeon and Amy Bloom.

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

I trained as a teacher, but I only lasted four months.

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