Novelist Siobhán MacDonald: I defy anyone not to sing along to Go Your Own Way

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, novelist Siobhan MacDonald

Cork author and full-blooded Pink Floyd (and Fleetwood Mac) fan Siobhan MacDonald

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

Probably in school, where I was encouraged to enter scripts I’d written into the Irish language arts festival Slógadh. With an engineering degree in tow, I developed a career as a technical writer, all the while writing creatively. With positive feedback on a first novel, I persevered, got an agent, and found a publisher for a second novel, my first thriller.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

The last gig I remember going to was a Pink Floyd tribute band playing in Dolan’s in Limerick. As there is no such thing as a half-hearted Floyd fan, with the buzzy atmosphere and great light show, it was the ultimate feel-good night in an intimate venue.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I’ve been very taken with some online lockdown performances, and one band in particular sticks out in my mind. I’d love to have Irish band Picture This play at a wedding or a birthday party. And nothing beats a Strip The Willow or a Dashing White Sergeant to get a gang up on the dancefloor at a wedding, so a céilí band it would be. Maybe I could encourage Runrig, the Scottish Celtic rock band, to come out of retirement for one last gig.?

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

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, because it puts me in mind of long, hot summers. I defy anyone not to sing along to Go Your Own Way and Don’t Stop.

5. And the book?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier because it stands up to repeated reading. Though the language is ‘of an era’, it’s a satisfying, full-bodied, twisty mystery. Mrs Danvers doesn’t get any less scary over time.?

Guilty, the latest novel by Siobhan MacDonald

6. Top three films?

Firstly, a summery film. A Good Year. Not that I ever worked in finance in the city, but who wouldn’t eschew a stressful life, as does the main character, in favour of noodling about a French farmhouse, looking after a vineyard, with interesting company over dinner on the terrace of an evening?

Secondly, a film for a winter’s night. What better to keep you awake on the edge of your sofa than The Woman In Black? I’ve seen it at least three times and those opening scenes are still as chilling as ever.

Thirdly, is a family favourite – one that has an obligatory airing every Christmas. That film is Withnail And I. As every year passes, more and more lines are committed to my memory. A favourite is, “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.” Not something many of us will be in a position to say this year.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

Room. Not because it has cult status as an appalling film, but because I was outvoted on a family film night and was cajoled to watch it under duress.

8. Favourite authors?

Kevin Barry, Sebastian Barry and a series of crime novels I enjoyed immensely was the Lewis trilogy by Peter May. Starting with The Blackhouse, it is a dark, brooding, twisty with a tangled web of romance. I notice he has a thriller out with a timely title, Lockdown. Worth a look, for sure.

9. Sport you most enjoy?

Tennis, along with the chat and cup of coffee afterwards. Roger Federer is such a joy to watch. What a graceful athlete and all-round class act.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Having just mentioned the Lewis trilogy, don’t the Hebrides sound nice? Although, perhaps another summer. I expect islanders would like to preserve their disease-free status for as long as possible. Staying on the island of Ireland, Donegal or thereabouts is high on my list. Some of the posts on social media make it look like Barbados. (I’ve never been to either).?

11. Pet hates?

Shoppers invading personal space in the supermarket – even before the pandemic.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Seafood. Of the whole variety. So that’s fish, not mussels or squid or any alien-looking creatures at the bottom of a chowder bowl.

Dessert? Raspberries or strawberries on their own, if I’m being good. With something evilly gooey on the side, if I’m not.

Drink? G&T if you’ve got one. ?

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

Whoever’s sitting on a socially distanced chair, having the craic and a cup of coffee with me.

14. Is there a God?

I’d like to think there is. That guy in the White House is definitely an imposter.

:: Siobhan MacDonald’s latest novel, Guilty, is a dark tale, centring on a heart surgeon whose seemingly perfect life spirals out of control over the course of one weekend. It is published on June 11 and available to order online and on ebook. Follow her at and @SiobhanMMacD on Twitter.

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