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'The world, both the real one and the one I had invented, wobbled so horribly that I made a different choice entirely'

This week, five writers share the moments that changed their lives, here, Emily Hourican remembers the devastating bereavement that shaped the course of her life

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Emily Hourican. Photo: David Conachy

Emily Hourican. Photo: David Conachy

Emily Hourican. Photo: David Conachy

I have an obsession with the road not taken.

It’s what drives me to write novels: ‘What if…?’ ‘What if the ‘if’ was just as real as the ‘what’? What then?’ It’s the heart of each novel I’ve written; possibly the heart of every novel.

Once upon a time I was Irish in name only. I had one Irish parent — my father — from Roscommon. My mother was a complicated mix: born in Jerusalem, brought up all over East Africa, came to Dublin for university. I was born in Belfast, lived in Dublin for a couple of years, then did all my schooling in Brussels, coming to Dublin and UCD when I was 18.