Arts Q&A: Derry author Claire Allan on Nile Rodgers, Foy Vance and Marian Keyes

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Derry author Claire Allan

Following the success of her last novel Her Name Was Rose, former women's fiction writer Claire Allan's new book is another psychological thriller

1. When did you think about a career in writing what were your first steps into it?

I've always loved writing, from a very young age. I decided to finally write my first novel when I was 29 and the big 3-0 loomed. I think because I had been mulling it over for a while it came quite easily.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

The best was Chic with Nile Rodgers at The Venue during Derry's City of Culture year in 2013. I went with very few expectations and it was just an infinitely joyous experience. Foy Vance at the Ulster Hall in December 2016 also stands out. He is such a consummate performer and amazing lyricist. My final choice would be Michael Buble at the Odyssey in December 2014. He is a brilliant showman.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I think a combination of all the above would work quite well, but forced to choose, it would be Nile Rodgers and Chic.

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

Foy Vance's Live at Bangor Abbey. It takes me on an emotional journey every time I listen to it.

5. And the book?

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes – funny, poignant, raw and honest. It broke the women's fiction mould when it was published and I still think it's incredibly relevant and a brilliant portrayal of addiction.

6. Top three films?

When Harry Met Sally. A brilliant observation of love with first-rate dialogue and brilliant direction; The Princess Bride – it's a classic for children of all ages; and Star Wars, A New Hope – because it's Star Wars at its purest.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone. Awful, cheese-filled nonsense.

8. Favourite authors?

Marian Keyes, Anna McPartlin and Fionnuala Kearney. All three woman push the envelope and improve their genres with each and every book.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I don't do sports but for the sake of marital harmony and to keep my son happy, I will say football and Liverpool FC.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

A villa in Tuscany would be my absolute dream. Preferably with a group of my best girl friends and no children.

11. Pet hate?

Rudeness. Being kind takes so little effort, just do that.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Anything Italian.

Dessert? Apple crumble with ice cream.

Drink? An ice cold glass of Pinot Grigio.

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

I have a number of best friends, one from every decade and every life stage. So I have my best school friend Julie-Anne, my best mummy-years friend Vicki, and my best writer friend Fionnuala.

14. Is there a God?

It's hard to believe in God in the world we live in.

:: Claire Allan's new novel, Apple of My Eye, a psychological thriller, which explores the lengths women will go to become a mother and stay a mother. It is published by Avon and is out now.

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