Today I’m delighted to feature Anne Griffin the author of the bestselling novels Listening Still and When All Is Said. Anne’s third novel The Island of Longing was published yesterday.
Anne received the Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year 2019. Her work has also been longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and shortlisted for the John McGahern Annual Book prize and the RSL Christopher Bland prize. Anne’s books are published in twenty-five territories. Anne’s short works have featured in, amongst others, The Observer, The Irish Times and The Stinging Fly and read on BBC Radio 4.
Born in Dublin, Anne now lives in Westmeath, Ireland.
Over to Anne :
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Banana Republic – The Boomtown Rats. The first record I bought. I love it as it was written by Bob Geldof about the ridiculous conservatism in Ireland that is now thankfully, mostly, a thing of the past. And, of course, Bob is such a hero.
Wonderful Life – Black. Apart from the very eighties opening sequence, this was the song I loved the most in my teens. Interesting, Colin Vearncombe moved to Ireland later in life but unfortunately died aged fifty-three in a car accident in 2016.
Eve, the Apple of my Eye – Bell X1. This band and this song were the sound track to when my son was born. Their work evokes special memories of getting to know this wonderful new little person in my life. Also, I think this band write the best lyrics going, very quirky and original.
Midnight Gospel Choir – The 4 of Us. Another great acoustic band whose music I would listen to before sitting college exams. Two brothers who to this day write beautiful music and thankfully tour incessantly.
Without You – Oh Wonder. These guys are the soundtrack to my travels as a writer. I have played them over and over as I have travelled the roads of Ireland and on planes heading to international book festivals. The combination of their voices is simply bewitching.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My book collection, obviously.
My polytunnel. I love growing my own vegetables. I’ve gotten into this in the last three years and this year, I’ve begun to feel so much more confident with it but am still very much a learner.
My noise cancelling headphones. I use them not to keep out the music I listen to but the noises of the world around me as I write. I’m like Maggie O’Farrell who says even the noise of the fridge can disturb her.
My earplugs at night so I can’t hear the cat trying to get in or out of the house at 5am.
My laptop. I don’t write long hand so I need the keyboard to be able to create.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
It’s OK not to know things.
It’s OK to keep eavesdropping on the conversations around you, one day they’ll come in very handy.
Being shy is actually a really nice attribute.
You aren’t ugly.
And your stomach is supposed to stick out like that.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I complain, a lot.
I have an amazing son who is a bookworm and wants to make movies.
I constantly doubt myself.
And I’m obsessed with interior design makeover shows.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d like to be able to keep writing for as long as my brain will allow.
I’d like to learn how to live with doubt.
I’d really like to delve into screen writing.
I’d like to truly, honestly believe I am good at my job.
I’d love to become a beekeeper and also have chickens.
Many thanks for joining me today Anne, and for bringing such fabulous music. I think you might have won the best ever compilation for including some of my favourites and introducing me to some new music. I’ve spent half the afternoon listening online to BellX1 and Oh Wonder who are both new to me, they’re wonderful! I’m also an earplug wearer largely in the spring/summer due the birds. As much as I love our feathered friends if I happen to wake up and hear them that’s all I tune into and I can never get back to sleep. Being shy, is definitely a nice attribute, it got this introverted bookworm through life and I still flourished. I’m almost very fond of interior design shows, I’m not sure I’ve picked up any inherent skills as a result or maybe I still haven’t watched enough. My current watches are Interior Design Masters and Banjo: Designing the Hebrides. I hope that you’ll learn to live with your doubt, but never doubt how good you are at story telling, you’ve got lots of happy readers to vouch for that.
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The Island of Longing
One unremarkable afternoon, Rosie watched her daughter Saoirse cycle into town, expecting to hear the slam of the door when she returned a few hours later. But the slam never came.
Eight years on, after an extensive investigation into her disappearance, Rosie is the only person who stubbornly believes that her child might still be alive. When Rosie receives a call from her father, asking her to return home for the summer, she is forced out of her limbo. Life on the island of Roaring Bay revives old rivalries, but it also brings new friendships and unexpected solace.
Yet, when a sudden glimmer of hope appears, Rosie is forced to face an impossible question: is she right to think that Saoirse is still alive? Or will her belief that her daughter will one day return to her come at the cost of everything she has left?
From the bestselling author of When All is Said comes a delicious new novel about a young woman who can hear the dead – a talent which is both a gift and a curse.
Jeanie Masterson has a gift: she can hear the recently dead and give voice to their final wishes and revelations. Inherited from her father, this gift has enabled the family undertakers to flourish in their small Irish town. Yet she has always been uneasy about censoring some of the dead’s last messages to the living. Unsure, too, about the choice she made when she left school seventeen years ago: to stay or leave for a new life in London with her charismatic teenage sweetheart.
So when Jeanie’s parents unexpectedly announce their plan to retire, she is jolted out of her limbo. In this captivating successor to her bestselling debut, Anne Griffin portrays a young woman who is torn between duty, a comfortable marriage and a role she both loves and hates and her last chance to break free, unaware she has not been alone in softening the truth for a long while.
When All is Said
Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime.
‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
Starting The Island of Longing later today!!
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