Arts Q&A: Novelist Andrea Carter on U2, Jackson Browne and CJ Sansom

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Irish author Andrea Carter

Crime writer Andrea Carter studied law at Trinity College Dublin and is the author of the Inishowen Mysteries novels

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

I started writing while still running my law practice in Donegal. It was a way of relieving stress; I’d write in the middle of the night when I was worried about some work issue and my protagonist Ben (Benedicta) O’Keeffe was little more than a braver (or more reckless!) version of myself. When I moved to Dublin to practise at the bar, I did some courses and began to take writing more seriously. When I had some success in competitions, I started to look for an agent.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

U2 in 1985, at Croke Park, Dublin, was my first proper concert. The support bands were The Alarm, In Tua Nua and REM. Radiohead played an outdoor concert at the RDS, in 1997, and it rained relentlessly the whole time. It didn’t seem to affect the quality of the music, though – they were wonderful. Jackson Browne, who played in a room at the back of Jackson’s Hotel in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, in the mid-90s. It was a tiny gig, and my memory is that he was alone and acoustic, and brilliant.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Depeche Mode. I love that they are still touring.?

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

I’d take a collection of Motown Classics. The songs would keep my spirits up when I needed and accompany my tears when I wanted a little cry.

5. And the book?

The Wind in the Willows. I’ve read it countless times and every time I see something new in it, most recently adult themes of depression and addiction. It’s a book about loyalty and friendship, about respect for nature and other creatures, about adventure and home, and it’s gorgeous.?

6. Top three films?

The Irish film Sanctuary is wonderful. I went to see it on my own, laughed the whole way through it and cycled home in tears. The original Swedish version of the horror film Let The Right One In is both moving and terrifying, and the child actors are phenomenal. If I ever need cheering up, the animated film Ratatouille will always do it. I like Paris, food and wine, and rodents, and they’re all in there.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I hated Marriage Story while most people I know loved it. I couldn’t wait for it to end; I thought it was utterly tedious.

8. Favourite authors?

This is an impossible one for a writer, since it changes all the time, but I love PD James and I’ve read almost everything she has written. Then if I could take the Bronte sisters as a unit (slightly cheating, I know). And I’m always delighted when a new CJ Sansom comes out. His books are huge tomes, and I know I’ll have many hours of pleasure ahead.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I’m not really a sports fan, though I do run. And I will cheer on Irish and Northern Ireland teams, whatever game they’re playing.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Probably somewhere I haven’t yet been. I love travelling on a shoestring to far-off places. In past years, favourites have been Guatemala, Uganda and Laos.?

11. Pet hate?

Cruelty, particularly to someone more vulnerable.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? My husband’s courgette pasta (not courgetti, proper pasta with courgettes, garlic and Parmesan).

Dessert? Homemade ice-cream. My aunt used to make a gooseberry ice-cream with fruit from her garden, and I’ve never tasted anything like it since.

Drink? Fizz. Champagne, cava or prosecco. I’m not fussy.?

13. Is there a God?

God knows.

:: Andrea Carter is the author of the Inishowen Mysteries. Her first three books are in development for television. The fifth in the series, The Body Falls is published by Little, Brown and is out now.

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