Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott
Maria Duffy’s fiction is making the move to America. The Dubliner has become used to reviews that describe her work as, for example, “fresh, zany and, at times, laugh out loud funny” (Irish Examiner). Here, she’s being praised for a “touch of mystery and some beautifully rendered explorations of human connection” (Publishers Weekly) in her debut on this side of the Atlantic, “A Love Like This.”
Duffy said it’s a book “about destiny and fate.”
She explained: “William and Donna are born on the same day in the same Dublin maternity hospital but their lives are very different. Will grows up in an affluent suburb with rich parents but struggles to balance what he wants with what will keep his overbearing mother happy. Donna is raised in poverty by her older sister and often wonders what life would be like without her troubled mother around. Over the years, William and Donna almost meet many times but it seems fate is trying to keep them apart. But it’s only when tragedy strikes for each of them and they head off to explore the world, that they finally meet 10,000 miles from home.”
The author added: “Their connection is very special but unfortunately the timing is wrong and they’re left with the memories of the brief time they had together and the dream of what might have been. But fate doesn’t give up that easily and maybe there’s still a chance for the two of them to find each other again.”
Date of birth: 14 April 1969
Place of birth: Dublin.
Children: 4 children – Eoin, 21, Roisin, 20, Enya, 16, and Conor, 14.
Residence: Lucan, Dublin.
Published works: “Any Dream Will Do,” “The Terrace,” “The Letter,” “One Wish,” “A Love Like This,” “Falling Softly” and “In Search of Us.” All commercial fiction and all published in Ireland, the UK and the Commonwealth. Some have been translated to German, Portuguese, French, Turkish and Italian.
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
I try to write when the children are at school and college as that’s when the house is quietest. So I sit at my desk at around 9 a.m. and try to clear my mind of the hundreds of other things I need to do in the house. Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. I often find myself emptying the dishwasher and mopping the floor when I really should be writing. But when a deadline looms, I can most often be found in my office at 2 a.m. Writing during the night works best for me when I have a lot to do but in reality, I couldn’t do it every night.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
The first thing I would say is to keep at it and believe in yourself. I had no confidence ten years ago. I was writing and keeping it all to myself because I didn’t think anybody would take me seriously. I didn’t have a degree or had never worked in a library or in the book world so I thought my books wouldn’t even be considered. Now with seven successful books published I’ve finally rid myself of that “Impostor Syndrome”! Just write a bit every day and don’t worry about editing it or making it perfect. The most important thing is to get the words down – they can always be changed at a later stage.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman; “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding; “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes.
What book are you currently reading?
“ The Trip of a Lifetime” by Monica McInerney.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Yes. I wish I’d written “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes. I pride myself on forming characters and as I’m a very visual person, I can picture every one of them in my head. When I read “Me Before You,” I connected with it and pictured the characters vividly. I think it’s a beautiful, funny and heart-breaking story and one that stayed with me for a long time after.
Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
“Girl on a Train” by Paula Hawkins. I didn’t think it would be my sort of book and I sometimes hate reading books when there’s a lot of hype surrounding them and you almost know the whole story before you read it. But I really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Without a shadow of a doubt, it would be Maeve Binchy. She was a brilliant writer and a wonderful woman. Her books are like a hug that I can pick up and re-read when I need cheering up.
What book changed your life?
If I can say my own book, it would definitely be “Any Dream Will Do.” For so long, I’d harbored the dream of having a book published but never really thought it would happen. And when I turned 40, I decided I was going to do all I could to have one published before I was 50. When I got a book deal the following year and eventually saw “Any Dream Will Do” on the shelves in the shops, it was the most amazing thing ever. It gave me confidence and made me realise that dreams really can come true.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
A little gem of a beach called Silver Strand in Wicklow. There are over 100 steps to get down to it and it has golden sand and is sheltered in a cove. I spent much of my childhood there and it holds a lot of special memories.
You’re Irish if…
“A nice cup of tea” is the solution to all the problems of the world.