Claire Allen is an author and former journalist from Derry. Up until 2016, she wrote women's fiction before deciding to swap genres and now she writes psychological thrillers. She has published 12 novels so far, and her latest title The Liar's Daughter is out now and published by Avon/HarperCollins (avonbooks.co.uk). She lives in Derry with her husband, children, two cats and a dog.
When Harry Met Sally retains the title of my favourite movie of all time. The ensemble cast is exquisite, the script is razor- sharp and it has an incredible feel-good factor. Nora Ephron is a genius and this is never more evident than in When Harry Met Sally. I will frequently quote from it.
The soundtrack to the musical Jagged Little Pill, based on the music of Alanis Morissette, is currently my favourite listen. The songs bring me back to my student days - and all that late teenage angst over trying to fit in and trying to be cool. The musical arrangements of the songs in the musical are brilliant and I find it brilliant to sing along as loud as possible. It's a definite mood enhancer.
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh has always struck me as particularly beautiful I love the colours, the nightscape and I have always been drawn to stars. I think it also touches me because of the artist's mental health problems. Having lived with chronic depression myself, I find it really inspiring that even in a dark place the mind can still create such beautiful things. The Starry Night was painted from van Gogh's room in an asylum, and represents his view from the window, with the addition of an idealised village. In that context it is exceptionally moving.
Austins of The Diamond building in Derry. Now closed, Austin's was a prestigious department store, the oldest in Ireland, in the heart of the walled city. The architecture of the building is exquisite and intricate - having been rebuilt in 1906 in an Edwardian/Baroque style. The building is an iconic piece of Derry history, and was made even more beautiful during the 2013 UK City of Culture year.
I, like many people, have fallen hook, line and sinker for the binge watch culture. There is no greater joy than finding a series that hits the spot and makes you itch to get back to watch more. Call the Midwife is that lovely security blanket of a show which has a strong feel-good factor, but it has also proven itself to be a very powerful record of social history.