"I didn't want people to read in the same way they might eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, but because I wanted them to know the mind-expanding privilege of walking a mile in someone else's shoes." Cathy Rentzenbrink
A writer’s life
Multitasking

Multitasking

Catherine Steadman is a woman of many parts. A celebrated actress, novelist and screenwriter, best known as Lady Mary’s love rival Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey, her two novels to date, both tightly wound psychological thrillers, have been huge bestsellers. We catch up with her as her second novel Mr Nobody is released in...
To do or not to do

To do or not to do

The Irish Times features writer, failed rock star and author of OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea reflects on some significant life, career and reading choices, names some of his literary, comedy and comic-book influences, and grapples with organising a writing regime and grasping an idea before it breaks free. Where are you now? In...
A new normal

A new normal

Rose Tremain’s latest novel Islands of Mercy is a daring exploration of sanctuary and identity that ranges from the genteel tearooms of 19th-century Bath to the rainforests of Borneo, via the slums of Dublin and the non-conformist nightlife of Paris. She tells us what makes her tick through trying times. Where are you now? At...
Plagued

Plagued

Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars tells the story of overworked nurse Julia Power, her eager young helper Bridie Sweeney, and the real-life figure of Kathleen Lynn, a Sinn Féin politician, activist and medical doctor, as they battle the Great Flu of 1918 in the emergency maternity ward of a Dublin hospital. The intense...
Down by the river

Down by the river

Louise Candlish was credited with creating a new genre of ‘property noir’ with Our House and Those People, and now brings murder to the river commute in her latest novel The Other Passenger. She tells us about her writing schedule, books and authors she admires, and a never-ending TBR pile. Where are you now? At...
Playing God

Playing God

Nikita Lalwani’s latest novel You People poses the tantalising question: in a world where the law is against you, how far would you be willing to lie for a chance to live? Set in London pizzeria where half the kitchen staff are undocumented immigrants, it is a witty and humane snapshot of undervalued lives and...
Myths, monsters and the misunderstood

Myths, monsters and the misunderstood

Monique Roffey’s latest novel The Mermaid of Black Conch is set on an imaginary Caribbean island where a mermaid is returned to land and falls in love with a local fisherman. Their story is intertwined with that of benevolent but formidable local landowner Miss Arcadia Rain, and tackles themes of unconditional love, friendship, community, identity,...
Spirits and stimulations

Spirits and stimulations

Rosanna Amaka’s The Book of Echoes is a searing debut novel about hope, redemption and the scars of history, narrated by the spirit of an enslaved African who journeys to 1980s Brixton and a sun-baked village in Nigeria, drawing together and transforming the lives of two youngsters who are struggling to hold onto their dreams....
In body and soul

In body and soul

Jane Rogers’ latest novel Body Tourists imagines a secretive, privately funded clinic in a near-future London that is experimenting with the digital transfer of the minds and personalities of the dead into young, supple bodies. The poor and healthy are recruited from the grim estates of northern Britain, compensated with hard cash for their brains...
All through the night

All through the night

H.M. Naqvi’s The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack draws a portrait of modern Karachi via the crumbling body and soul of a 70-year-old man who is pondering the city’s past from the viewpoint of a dilapidated family estate. His wistful daydreams of jazz clubs, cabarets, Sufi festivals and visiting Soviet officials are broken when...