Arts Q&A: Author Muriel Bolger on Bob Marley, Oscar Wilde and André Rieu

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Dublin writer Muriel Bolger

Dublin writer Muriel Bolger

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

I can't remember ever having an ambition to write – I think I just knew it would happen some day, and it did, after a very sudden and totally unexpected marriage break-up. Never having worked outside the home, I got on to a state-sponsored Women into Writing course. This necessitated getting work experience and I got this with the Irish Press Group and was hooked. I became a travel writer and this definitely has influenced settings in my novels.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Neil Diamond in the RDS, and Placido Domingo in the Point Depot, both a long time ago, and André Rieu in Vienna in May this year.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

That would have to be Bob Marley and the Wailers. I love reggae music and when I hear them I'm transported to sunny islands.

4. Speaking of which, what record would you take to a desert island?

I'd take André Kostelanetz and His Orchestra's Opera Without Words. I never tire of it.

5. And what book?

My well-thumbed copy of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. It covers everything from his fairy tales to his hauntingly sad Ballad of Reading Gaol.

6. Top three films?

A Night to Remember, starring Kenneth More. This black and white film created a real sense of what the passengers must have felt as the Titanic sank. Pretty Woman, because I think this is the ultimate feel-good, romantic movie. And Quartet, starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon. This is comedy at its best. It's set in a home for retired musicians. I want to book a place there.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Albert Nobbs, starring Glenn Close. It gave me the creeps. I found it sinister, dark and depressing and couldn't recommend it to anyone.

8. Favourite authors?

This is hard, but I go back again and again to Douglas Kennedy, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, and Somerset Maugham. I love the way they create a sense of place and time and how their characters really come to life.

9. Sport(s) you most enjoy and top team(s)?

Tennis and rugby are the only sports I would watch on television. I follow Leinster and Ireland in rugby.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Austria, in summer. I love the scenery, their pastries, their music and the way they celebrate their traditions.

11. Pet hate?

People who talk about their dogs non-stop, and refer to them as their 'babies' and to themselves as their mutts' Mummy and Daddy.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Stuffed pork steak with dauphinoise potatoes and roast vegetables.

Dessert? A zesty, tangy lemon tart, with loads of whipped cream.

Drink? A gin and tonic with lime and a little ice.

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

My school friend, Mairéad. We've been there for each other, through good times and bad. We became friends in secondary school and have remained so. It doesn't matter how often or how seldom we meet, we just pick up the pieces as though we'd talked yesterday.

14. Is there a God?

I haven't a clue. I used to be a devout believer in a personal god, but the older I become the more incongruous that concept seems to me. If there is one, I'll have to have a serious chat with him, her, or it when the time comes.

:: A Degree of Truth by Muriel Bolger is a captivating story of passion, betrayal and second chances. Published by Hachette Ireland, it is out now.

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