Arts Q&A: Author Emma Heatherington on Bryan Adams, Roald Dahl and Tyrone GAA

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Co Tyrone author Emma Heatherington

Tryone writer Emma Heatherington has had a busy year. She was ghost writer for country singer Nathan Carter's autobiography, Born For The Road, and has published Christmas romance novel A Miracle On Hope Street

1. When did you think about a career in writing and what were your first steps into it? I've been writing since I was about 11. I've fond memories of sitting in my bedroom penning lyrics to my own songs such as Mystery Man and The Boy Next Door, then tormenting the neighbours to listen and give their opinion. After school, I pursued a career in PR for many years before entering a short story competition in a magazine which I won in 2005 after my aunt Kathleen encouraged me to give it a go.

2. Best gigs you've been to? My favourite gig ever has to be Bryan Adams at the now SSE Arena Belfast about 10 years ago when he brought my sister Vanessa up on stage to sing Baby When You're Gone with him. That was magical. Everyone thought it had been rehearsed, but it was totally random. I also love catching Gareth Dunlop.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band? For my dad's entertainment, it would have to be Status Quo.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island? A self-made compilation of everything from 80s classics to American country.

5. And the book? The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I don't imagine I'd be very good at survival, so I'd need a book that gives me great hope against all odds.

6. Top three films? A Star Is Born – I love movies that touch the emotions, Dirty Dancing for pure nostalgia and anything by Nora Ephron or Richard Curtis.

7. Worst film you've seen and why? I can't do horror so any horror movie or extreme sci-fi would be my ultimate nightmare.

8. Favourite authors? Roald Dahl is my all-time favourite author. I enjoyed watching my older children take interest in his work and can't wait until my youngest gets stuck in. I enjoyed the new Claire Allan book, Her Name Was Rose and Fionnuala Kearney's The Book of Love.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? I'm the least sporty person ever, but I do love to don the red and white and support Tyrone in GAA on occasion.

10. Ideal holiday destination? My dream destination is Nashville, home of songwriting and country music.

11. Pet hate? I'm really squeamish and can't stand any talk of blood, guts or the ‘v' word (veins). When I was having a Caesarean section, the anaesthetist had to stop before he even started to tell me that he hadn't even touched me yet as I was in such a state.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Steak, with a glass of Merlot.

Dessert? Crème brulee.

Drink? Gin and tonic.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? My mum always told me and my four sisters that someday we'd all be best friends to which we responded with lots of tuts and eye rolling, but of course she was right. My partner Jim (McKee) makes me laugh a lot and is the first person I go to with good news or bad.

14. Is there a God? Yes, I believe there is. I'm probably more spiritual than religious, but I totally believe in the after-life and that my mother is watching over us.

:: Emma's new Christmas themed novel A Miracle on Hope Street (HarperImpulse) is out now. Emma will host a celebration evening on December 8 in Cafe No.47, Donaghmore, Co Tyrone. Admission is £20 and includes a Symphonia gin reception, canapés, live music and a signed copy of A Miracle on Hope Street. Booking via Emma's Facebook page.

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