Roisin Meaney on why Irish women love her characters so much
"People connect to my characters because they're normal people. I'm not writing about someone who is perfect."
Books have been a massive comfort to many of us during both the highs and lows of life. From breakups, stressful days at work, and most recently, the pandemic, opening a book and stepping away from the world is something that has helped so many of us. One legendary Irish author who has provided a constant source of warmth and reassurance through her books is Roisin Meaney. The novelist was recently shortlisted for Author of the Year at this year's An Post Irish Book Awards.
Speaking exclusively to Her.ie, Roisin Meaney said she couldn't believe it when her editor told her she was nominated. The writer admitted she never expected the nomination. "It was a big surprise. After writing 20 books and not being nominated, I decided to put it out of my head. I didn't think it was going to happen so I really can't believe it."
The nomination has given Meaney a boost, you can hear the joy in her voice when she talks about the upcoming awards, but she has always been recognised as one of our best women's fiction authors on this little island we call home. All of her books have reached the top 10 and her readers are not only as loyal as ever but growing in numbers.
Meaney believes that Irish readers connect with her stories in a special way. "People connect to my characters because they're normal people. I'm not writing about someone who is perfect. They're realistic, they have flaws, they're part of the real world." Meaney's characters feel familiar and real because they're flawed, like all of us. We can recognise parts of ourselves in her characters and that's what makes her books so special.
"They have flaws. They're part of the real world."
The writer's characters may go through hardships in life, but what keeps her readers returning, time and time again is the charm and heart in her stories. Meaney stressed that it is so important to give your readers hope. "I always inject some feel-good feeling into my books. You have to leave the reader with hope."
So many of us turned to books during the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were a form of escapism we desperately needed. All we had to do was open a novel and step away from talk of Covid cases, restrictions, and never-ending news cycles. Lockdown gave us time to stop, reflect and breathe. It gave writers like Roisin Meaney even more time to focus on exciting projects. Just weeks before the first March lockdown was introduced, Meaney was meeting with her editor to discuss her next book. She decided it was time to write a Christmas novel, but little did she know she would be penning the story during a haunting moment in history. The pandemic was a tough chapter for all of us, but there were some perks dotted throughout it.
Roisin shared, "I decided to write my Christmas book in the February of 2020. Three months went by and my first draft was complete. It felt good to stop for a while and step away from the rat race." Our lives have thankfully changed for the better but that hasn't stopped Roisin from writing. The author is currently working on another Christmas novel, but it isn't set for publication until 2023. Readers will be thrilled to hear that the story will feature characters from her previous books.
"It was a big surprise. After writing 20 books and not being nominated, I decided to put it out of my head."
As well as penning another soon-to-be best-selling novel, Meaney is also dreaming about seeing one of her books on the big screen. And I think it's only a matter of time before she joins the likes of Emma Donoghue and Cecelia Ahern. We need more heartwarming stories on screen so who better to pen the screenplay than Meaney? However, the author said she'd want Irish actors to star in the film adaption of one of her books. The last thing we need is another Hollywood star butchering an Irish accent.
As exciting as it is to think about awards and film adaptions, Meaney said she'll always be happy once she keeps writing. "I read the type of books I want to write. Books full of warmth like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Reading has to be part of my every day. I'll be happy as long as I keep writing and people keep reading."
Roisin Meaney is a best-selling Irish author and An Post Irish Book Award nominee. You can find her novels in your local bookstore.
You can vote in the An Post Irish Book Awards here. The An Post Irish Book Awards take place on November 23rd.