Arts Q&A: Irish crime writer Olivia Kiernan on Kylie Minogue, Maeve Binchy and Enya

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, crime writer Olivia Kiernan

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

I've written for most of my life. I think I was about seven when I started really writing stories and using journals. Most of my efforts were about two sentences long but the curiosity in creativity was definitely there. It wasn't until my late twenties when I began taking some serious steps to becoming a writer. I signed up to a creative writing short course which really fanned the flames for me when it came to writing.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

When I was a student in Wales, I worked part-time at the Cardiff International Arena and therefore was lucky enough to see many really great gigs in the early noughties. These included Stereophonics, Super Furry Animals, Counting Crows and even a Slipknot concert but my favourite for entertainment and bling factor was a Kylie Minogue concert. The atmosphere was unforgettable.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Traditional Irish music of some sort, seeing as we're all inclined to try a sing-song at the end of the evening.

4. The record you would take to a desert island?

At the moment, I'm very grateful to Enya's music. I re-discovered it last year and there's a reason her music is sampled so much - it's incredibly atmospheric and emotionally stirring. When writing last year, and approaching the finale of my book, I must have listened to Enya's Boadicea a hundred times.

5. And the book you would take to a desert island?

This is difficult. As any writer will tell you it's hard to choose favourites with books. It would be a tough whittling the list down between Wuthering Heights, Silence of the Lambs, or Stephen King's Misery. Oh, and any of Tana French's or Donna Tartt's. I'll accept the extra baggage fees.

6. Top three films?

Presently, much of my film watching is PG, as I watch with my young daughter. We loved the 2018 animated Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse. The storytelling, concept and animation were all incredible.

I think The Shawshank Redemption has to be up there with regards to re-watchability and Scorsese's The Departed for suspense.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Gosh, I can't think of one. Maybe I'm very good at avoiding bad films. Sometimes, I might find myself watching something with a questionable plot but there's usually something that stops me changing the channel and in that way, even the bad ones are getting something right.

8. Favourite authors?

I enjoy reading from a wide selection of authors so I'm not able to name favourites but I'm enjoying Colin Barrett's Young Skins which is a short story collection, Barbara Vine and Peter Swanson. And I find I re-read Maeve Binchy's Circle of Friends often. She is a master at characterisation, setting and voice.

9. Sport you most enjoy?

I used to do athletics a lot when I was younger and competed up to national level, so I love to watch athletics if it's on TV.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

We holidayed in Thailand many years ago. We stayed in a resort near Khao Lak that had been badly affected by the 2004 tsunami. It was amazing how they had rebuilt the area after such loss. The people and the scenery were captivating and we've always intended to return.

11. Pet hates?

Voicemail and people who leave voicemail messages. Why?

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Any meal that's cooked for me rather than by myself.

Dessert? I'll take the cheese platter please.

Drink? Red wine.

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

I have many valued friends in my life but I'd say if I had to name a best friend, it would be my partner. He's supportive, a great listener and, importantly, fun.

The Murder Box, the fourth book in the acclaimed Frankie Sheehan series, by Olivia Kiernan is published by Riverrun and is out now.

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