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Sunday 21 January 2018

My cultural life: Novelist Anne-Marie Casey

Anne-Marie Casey's latest novel The Real Liddy James is published this month
Anne-Marie Casey's latest novel The Real Liddy James is published this month

Anne-Marie Casey is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. Her film and TV scripts have been produced in the UK and Ireland and her stage adaptations of Little Women and Wuthering Heights enjoyed sell-out runs at the Gate Theatre in recent years. An Englishwoman in New York, her first book, was an Irish bestseller. She is married to the novelist Joseph O'Connor. They live in Dublin with their two sons.

Art: Opus 40

I've just come back from a trip to Woodstock, New York, the most famous small town in America, because of a music festival that didn't happen there. It's a wonderful place of incredible natural beauty and a thriving cultural scene (there have been artistic colonies there since the early 1900s). One of the highlights was our visit to Opus 40, an outdoor sculpture park and museum created from bluestone rock quarried on the property by one man, the sculptor Hervey Fite. He planned to finish in 40 years, hence the name, but died in an accident three years before. It's a very special place - a monument to a life devoted to one gigantic piece of art.

Film: Ghostbusters

I have seen the original Ghostbusters movies innumerable times ('I collect spores, molds and fungus' is one of my favourite lines of dialogue in any movie - ever!), so I was delighted that the current reboot is just as good. Kate McKinnon steals the show in the mad scientist role, and it is fast, freewheeling and funny - a perfect family film. Of course, with hindsight, what I most enjoyed about it was taking my sons to a commercial movie where the four lead characters are women. They drive the action and tell jokes. Their gender neither defines them nor becomes a plot point.

Book: Fates and Furies

I first heard about Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff when Barack Obama named it his favourite book of 2015, but I didn't read it until this summer. It's the portrait of a marriage told in two halves, from the perspectives of the husband and wife, and is as much about what they conceal from each other as what they reveal. Character is most certainly action in this. I found it compulsive reading and very memorable.

TV: Madame Secretary

For those of you who, like me, have gone into television mourning because of the end of The Good Wife, try Madame Secretary. Two series in, I'm hooked. I love Tea Leoni (inset) as the US Secretary of State, juggling her day job hunting terrorists and preventing wars with the demands of her three children and her husband, who happens to work undercover for the CIA. Her level of multi-tasking makes me want to lie down in a darkened room.

Album: The Melody at Night, With You

I bought this album over 10 years ago and it was my introduction to the incredible jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. It quickly became one of my all-time favourite recordings - and then my default music to get myself in the mood for writing. It's no surprise that it found its way into the background of my new novel. Joe and I were lucky enough to see Jarrett in concert at the National Concert Hall in 2013.

Anne-Marie Casey's new novel, The Real Liddy James, is published by Hodder this month

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