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.
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.