Arts Q&A: Dublin Emer Martin novelist in on The Clash, Iggy Pop and Toni Morrison

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Irish novelist, painter and film-maker Emer Martin

Emer Martin will be speaking at this year's Belfast Book Festival

1. When did you think about a career in writing/painting/film making and what were your first steps into it?

When I want to explain the word oxymoron to my students I write the two words 'literary career' on the board. I teach to support my writing habit. But creating has always been a necessity in my life and literature my first love. When I was a kid I had posters of Oscar Wilde up in my bedroom before I had rock stars. Without art I wouldn't be alive.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

My first gig was The Clash and it's been downhill ever since. Iggy Pop is the best performer I've ever seen. His performances were shamanistic and mesmerizing.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Ocean Wisdom. He's mesmerisingly good, more words per minuet than Eminem and great beats. My favourite song is Eye Contact.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island and why?

I'd probably shrivel up and die without Spotify these days. I'm hooked.

5. And the book?

One book? Noooooooooooooooo. If I had it would be a poetry anthology – a really thick book, but lots of different voices.

6. Top three films?

Fanny And Alexander, Santa Sangre and Time Of The Gypsies.

7. Worst film you've seen and why?

Rubber. It's about a homicidal car tire. So bad it was great.

8. Favourite authors?

Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortázar and Toni Morrison.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I don't understand this question. Lol. I do like to watch the New Zealand team do The Haka before the match. Then I lose interest once it all starts.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Bali. I've travelled all over the world and Bali is still my favourite place on the planet.

11. Pet hate?

Propaganda. Every country thinking it is the best. Americans keep calling me British. They call my husband an Arab and he's Iranian. Please get your geography and history right.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Ethiopian restaurants.

Dessert? Anything chocolate.

Drink? Guinness, of course.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I have lived in so many places in the world and have great friends everywhere. There is no best.

14. Is there a God?

Maybe, and she is probably very pissed off with us right now for not tidying up the planet.

:: Emer Martin will be reading and speaking about her new novel The Cruelty Men, with reporter Darragh McIntyre at Belfast's Linen Hall Library on June 12 at 1pm. This literary lunch event is part of The Belfast Book Festival, which runs from June 6-16. For full programme and tickets visit

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