November, 2011


21
Nov 11

Finding Mr Flood, by Ciara Geraghty

The opening line of a book says a lot about what’s to come. It sets the tone, captures our attention – makes us want to read on, and the opening line of Ciara Geraghty’s ‘Finding Mr Flood’ does just that….‘Dara Flood always said that the most interesting thing about her happened before she was born.’

Intrigued? I most definitely was and read on, and on and on. In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this excellently written, brilliantly plotted book.

The issue of ‘Finding Mr Flood’ is the dilemma which runs through the heart of this book; Mr Flood being the father of Dara Flood, a father who, before she was born,  went out for a packet of cigarettes one day and never returned. With Dara’s sister Angel now suffering from ‘end stage renal failure’, Dara sets out to find her father, in a final, desperate hope that he may be a match for her sister. It’s a fascinating hook and one which is further developed through the reluctance of anyone to discuss Mr Flood, let alone find him.

Dara Flood isn’t your usual heroine. She isn’t a ‘girly-girl’, lives at home with her mother and sister, works at a dog-pound and likes cooking, salsa dancing and pizza with her two work colleagues. That is about as exciting as Dara’s life gets, being somewhat consumed with worrying and caring for her sister.

‘Finding Mr Flood’ is mainly set in Dublin, but with scenes which take us to other parts of Ireland and eventually to Paris. With brilliantly observed dialogue and accent and meticulously observed character traits, Ciara Geraghty creates an impressive and credible cast list – not only in her principal characters of Dara and the unsuspecting, unexpected romantic male lead, Stanley Flinter, but also in those who surround Dara and Stanley’s lives: Mrs Flood, Angel, the next door neighbour Miss Pettigrew, Dara’s work colleagues Tintin and Anja and even the numerous dogs who each have their own starring roles. Everyone has a unique voice, a unique appeal and a part to play in the path Dara eventually takes to start to track down her father.

This is by no means a predictable novel, with the author taking the reader on several twists and turns, yet constantly (and very cleverly) reminding us of what is at stake here and what it is that drives the main characters to act as they do. With enticing snippets of first person dialogue from an unknown character dotted throughout the book, we are never quite sure what the outcome is going to be and of course, with Angel’s condition worsening all the time, there is an ever-present sense of frustration and urgency.

Ciara Geraghty has been hailed by some as the new Marian Keyes. With this excellent novel, she is definitely a worthy contender to that crown.

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Ciara Geraghty lives in Dublin in a house with one husband and three children and an imaginary dog called George (who can roll over, play dead and shake paws with visitors). It is a noisy house which is why she had to become a writer. Writing is a perfect excuse to leave the noisy house and hole up somewhere quieter (like Dublin airport) to get some work done. In this way, she has managed to write three books and some short stories. Hobbies include giving up cigarettes, looking at the pictures in recipe books and reading brilliant books, mostly because they’re brilliant but also because they make her want to be a better writer.

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Finding Mr Flood is published by Hachette Books Ireland. Ciara’s previous novels are ‘Saving Grace’ and ‘Becoming Scarlet’, also published by Hachette Books Ireland.

You can contact Ciara on Twitter @ciarageraghty and on Facebook


7
Nov 11

Any Dream Will Do, by Maria Duffy

Sometimes, a novel comes along which is timed perfectly to tap into modern culture. Maria Duffy’s debut novel ‘Any Dream Will Do’ is one such novel, exploring our obsession with social media and how we can sometimes be fooled by what we are seeing on those screens in front of us.

The novel is told through the honest, witty voice of single thirty-year-old Jenny Breslin. With an emotionally distant/deranged mother (who acts more like a teenage rebel than a mother), a boring bank job, an awful boss, a lacking love-life and friends who seem to be living the perfect family life, Jenny turns to Twitter for company, where she establishes stronger friendships and a better social life than she has in the ‘real’ world. Far from fiction, this is something which happens every day and through her characters, Maria Duffy explores the implications of social networking on our relationships and friendships.

When Jenny drunkenly invites three of her Twitter friends to spend a few days with her in Dublin to meet up in person for the first time, her assumptions about the people she has got to know ‘virtually’ are turned completely upside down, leading her to re-evaluate her own life and realise that perhaps it isn’t that bad after all.

Any Dream Will Do is a funny, heart-warming novel which sparkles with rich Dublin wit throughout. With Jenny Breslin, Maria has created a Bridget Jones for the social networking generation – Jenny’s disastrous love-life, endless, toe-curlingly embarrassing incidents, the brilliant Mammy Delaney and the anticipation of a white Christmas keeps the pages turning and the plot building to a surprising climax.

From the seasonal, eye-catching cover to the touching personal acknowledgments at the end, this is a debut of which the author should be very proud.

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Maria Duffy

I spoke to Maria about the novel and how it feels to be a debut novelist.

Where did you get the inspiration for ‘Any Dream Will Do’?

Any Dream Will Do was born from my ever so slight… okay, okay… my massive addiction to Twitter! Since I joined the Twitterverse two years ago, I’ve been hooked. I love the brevity of the tweets and the immediate interaction with others. I knew that I wanted to write a book that had a connection with twitter as I am fascinated by the relationships we form on social network sites and I find it interesting that we can be whoever we want to be. So, I suppose I’d have to say that Any Dream Will Do is a twitter inspired book.

This is your debut novel – can you describe how you are feeling about becoming a published author?
I feel wonderful, fabulous, excited,delighted, terrified – there’s a myriad of emotions running around in my head at the moment. I worked in a bank for fifteen years, got married and had four children and adore being a mother, but still dreamed of writing a book. Now that the day has come when I can hold my book in my hands, I feel overwhelmed. My publishers can confirm that, as they have to follow me around with copious amounts of tissues as I blub tears of joy every time I see the book!

Can you describe your main character Jenny – what do you love about her most?
If I had to describe Jenny in three words, I’d say she’s fun, feisty and fabulous! She’s the quintessential girl next door –  not glamorous or fashionable, nor is she politically correct. She spends half her life with her foot in her mouth and the other half trying to get it out again! On the surface, she’s far from perfect, but as we begin to dig a bit deeper as the book progresses, we find she has layers and layers underneath.

Are your characters and plot purely fictitious, or are any elements based on real people or real experiences?
The plot and characters are completely fictitious, but real life experience definitely comes into it. I think that writing about something you’ve actually experienced will always come across as more authentic. For example, Jenny in Any Dream Will Do has a spectacular, knickers-on-display, fall in a restaurant. I was that soldier!

Writing your ‘Stars in the Twitterverse’ blog for Hello has led to some interesting encounters. Which celebrities have you been most excited to meet, and why?
Oh that’s a difficult question because I’ve honestly loved every single interview I’ve done for various reasons. Mikey Underwood and Angellica Bell stick in my mind because they were the first ones I interviewed and were just so lovely and willing to give of their time. Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were fantastic too and have been really supportive. Oh and I’d have to mention the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Jedward. It was the most crazybut strangely enjoyable interview I’ve ever done!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading something that’s a little different for me at the moment. It’s a book called ‘Click, Click’ by Joyce, June and Paula Kavanagh. It’s a true story of three sisters whowere abused by their father throughout their childhood. It’s a harrowing story but also inspiring, heart-warming and even peppered with humour.

What can we look forward to next from you?
I’m just finishing my second book at the moment,which should hit the shelves in time for summer next year. I’ve loved writing it just as much as Any Dream Will Do so I hope readers will enjoy it too.

And finally……all Jenny wants for Christmas is some snow. What’s on your Christmas wish list?
My dream wish-list would consist of things like an extra 12 hours in a day or to grow an extra hand! But realistically, all I want for Christmas is to have time off to relax with my husband and children. The last year has been a whirlwind for me and I’ve been non-stop busy. I try to get the balance right between home and work but sometimes, when there are deadlines to meet or the words aren’t coming quick enough, something has to give.We didn’t have a family holiday this year so I’ve just booked for all six of us to go toNew York in February. I can’t wait! So Christmas this year will be lots of sleep, lots of family time and gearing myself up for another busy year! Here’s hoping!

Any Dream Will Do is published by Hachette Ireland. Thanks to Joanna Smyth for sending the review copy and images onto me.

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