Anna McPartlin Interview

Anna McPartlin is a best-selling Irish author of four novels to date. After reviewing her 2006 debut novel Pack Up The Moon, I caught up with Anna for a chat about her work then and now.

Q. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer, and how did it come about?

A. I’ve always been a story teller but because I’m dyslexic I thought I’d be better off working as an actress. I quickly discovered that telling other people’s stories didn’t really thrill me so in my mid twenties I decided to start trying to tell my own.

Q. What authors did you read growing up and who has most inspired you?

A. I was obsessed with Virginia Andrews when I was a teenager, she was the Stephenie Meyer of my day; although having said that instead of writing books promoting abstinence her characters had sex with the most regrettable of partners. Which actually explains a lot about my youth. But the author that inspired me to write was Roddy Doyle. I read ‘The Snapper,’ and I immediately wanted to put pen to paper.

Q. On to your own work – generally what do you find to be the easiest and most difficult aspects of writing a novel?

A. Characters come very easily to me and by the time I put pen to paper they are completely formed in my mind. I know them inside and out. My biggest flaw is overwriting. I need to be very strict when editing myself and I need my editor to be even stricter.

Q. Going back a few years, your first novel’s title, “Pack Up The Moon” stands out as having a particularly distinct poetical reference compared to your other novels. Why W.H. Auden?

A. Auden’s ‘Stop All The Clocks’ and Pack Up The Moon are all about the profound effect of the loss of a loved one. I’d always loved the poem and when I mentioned Pack Up The Moon as a possible title for the book, my publisher wasn’t sure a lot of people would understand the reference so we added a few lines of the poem to give the title context.

Q. What did you hope to achieve, as a new novelist, with that first book, and do you think you succeeded?
A. I wanted my voice to be distinctive and I think I’ve achieved that. At least I very much hope so!

Q. Do you feel your writing has developed or changed over the course of four years and four novels? Is there anything you’ve accomplished or which you still want to develop?

A. I can’t really say if anything has changed over time. I certainly hope I’ve developed and that I’ll continue to do so. My biggest accomplishment to date is getting published in the first place; it took 10 long years of working down the back of my kitchen to get that deal. As a writer what I want is to continue to tell stories that entertain.

Q. Your latest release, So What If I’m Broken, is unusually inspired by the songs of a particular music artist, Jack Lukeman – how did this come about, and why did you want to do it?

A. All my books have soundtracks. I put together music at the start of the book and that is the only music I listen to until the book is completed. In this case the book came from the music. I watched Jack perform one night and the character of Elle came to mind and she wouldn’t go away. After receiving Jack’s consent I took his music and listened to it for 6 months solid before putting pen to paper and the story came from that.

Q. Your novels overall are hugely character driven – do you draw any influence for them from anyone you know, or yourself? Any favourites?

A. Every character is inspired by the people close to me but that’s where it ends. I build a character the same way a contractor builds a house, brick by brick. Each personality trait given to my characters has to be in keeping with the others. They have to feel real even if the reader doesn’t know people like the people in my book or even if they don’t like them – I work really hard to make them absolutely believable.
I suppose if I had a gun to my head I’d say my favourite character is Emma from Pack Up The Moon, not because I like her the best, in fact, I find her quite annoying but then she’s in her twenties and thinks she knows it all so she’s supposed to be annoying. She’s my favourite because she was the main character in my first book, because she tells her story in first person and it’s the only time I’ve done that and because she grieved in the book as I have grieved in life.

Q. Have you ever considered writing a novel in a completely different genre?

A. I have and I will. I would love to write a book aimed at teenagers and I think I might have a children’s book in me too. I’ve already written for TV and loved it. So I’m really open to telling my stories in any and all genres.

Q. Lastly, can you tell us a bit about any plans you have for the future, be they novels or other projects?

A. Next up, meeting with Grand Pics about a pitch for ITV. I’m writing a short film this weekend for a pal of mine who has just started up his own production company. I’m also writing a feature film which I hope to have finished by the end of January. Then I’m starting book five and after that I might try my hand at a children’s book.

Find out more about Anna and her other work at her official website.

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