Thriller writer Julie Parsons on daydreaming on the Dart, an IRA killing and working with Gaybo.
What was it like coming to Ireland as a 12-year-old from New Zealand?
I never felt that I belonged anywhere. My parents were Irish and when we were in New Zealand, we were told we were Irish. But when we arrived here we found we were different. We had different accents and we were suntanned.
You worked in RTÉ for The Gay Byrne Show. How did you get on with Gay?
He was great because he was good at everything. You would present him with material and he would bring his own style and personality to it.
And you must have come across amazing stories.
We received incredible letters from listeners. It was not like today, with Facebook. It was one of the places where people told their stories.
How did you start writing fiction?
I didn't start until my forties. I was always good at writing since school. Later, I got my ideas when I was daydreaming on the Dart. The real catalyst came when I joined a writers' group.
What inspired your new book, The Therapy House?
My grandfather was rector of the Mariners' Church in Dún Laoghaire, and I have done a project on the parishioners. One of the stories I found was about Andrew Knight, who was inspector of the Dalkey Tram. He was shot dead by the IRA in 1921 for being an informer, which he wasn't. I wanted to incorporate it into a contemporary plot.
What are your favourite books?
Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer, and If This Is a Man by Primo Levi. It's a terrifying reminder of what the break-up of the EU could lead to.
Where and when do you like to write?
I work in a south-facing study at the top of the house in the morning and aim to have 700 words by lunchtime. At the start, I spend a lot of time getting up, wandering around and feeding the cat.