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Australian-born Dublin-based Monica McInerney is the author of the best-selling novels The House of Memories, Lola’s Secret, At Home with the Templetons, Those Faraday Girls (The Faraday Girls in the USA), Family Baggage, The Alphabet Sisters, Spin the Bottle (Greetings from Somewhere Else in the USA), Upside Down Inside Out and A Taste for It, the novella Odd One Out and a short story collection All Together Now, published internationally and in translation. Her articles and short stories have appeared in newspapers, magazines and anthologies in Australia, the UK and Ireland.
Lola’s Secret was shortlisted for the General Fiction Book of the Year in the 2012 Australian Book Industry Awards. At Home with the Templetons was a number 1 best-seller in Australia and was shortlisted for the General Fiction Book of the Year in the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards and for the Eason Popular Fiction Award in the 2010 Irish Book Awards. Those Faraday Girls won the General Fiction Book of the Year in the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards. All Together Now was shortlisted in the same category in the 2009 Australian Book Industry Awards.
In 2006, Monica was the main ambassador for the Australian Government’s Books Alive national reading campaign, for which she wrote a limited edition novella called Odd One Out.
Monica, 48, grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Since then Monica has lived all around Australia (in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart) in Ireland (in County Meath and Dublin) and in London and also travelled widely.
She was a book publicist for ten years, working in Ireland and Australia and promoting authors such as Roald Dahl, Tim Winton, Edna O’Brien and Max Fatchen and events such as the Dublin International Writers’ Festival.
She has also worked as an event manager and organiser of tourism festivals in the Clare Valley; as a freelance writer/editor and in arts marketing in South Australia; a public relations consultant in Tasmania; a record company press officer in Sydney; a barmaid in an Irish music pub in London and as a temp, grapepicker, hotel cleaner, kindergym instructor and waitress. Her first job out of school as a 17-year-old was as wardrobe girl (and later scriptwriter) for the children’s TV show Here’s Humphrey at Channel 9 in Adelaide. She is now a full-time writer.
For the past twenty years she and her Irish husband have been moving back and forth between Australia and Ireland. They currently live in Dublin.
Facebook:www.facebook.com/monicamcinerneyauthor Twitter:@MonicaMcInerney Website:www.monicamcinerney.com
Books by this Author
Monica McInerney/Dymocks Q&A
1. What is the inspiration behind Hello from the Gillespies?
The story was sparked by my lifelong fascination with Christmas round robin newsletters. My parents used to receive quite a few when I was a child and I was captivated by how much people would say about their families and also how perfect their lives seemed to be. My own family certainly wasn’t like that. One year we received a newsletter that was so boastful my sister and I felt compelled to write a parody version. We called it The McInerney Report and filled it with completely over-the-top, breathless descriptions of what each of us – Mum, Dad, we seven children – had done that year: our exotic international travel, our selfless charity work, our dazzling sporting achievements… All lies, of course, but we amused ourselves so much we wrote an annual newsletter for the next ten years. (In one of them we were awarded the bid for the Olympic Games, holding it on our local footy oval, with Mum doing the catering.)
I know that planted the seed to somehow use Christmas letters in my novels. It had been great fun writing fabricated versions, but one day I asked myself – what would happen if someone wrote a completely truthful Christmas letter, via email? And what would happen if that letter accidentally went viral? I began writing Hello from the Gillespies that same day.
2. What do you and your family normally do to celebrate Christmas?
I’m very spoilt, I often get to have two Christmases. I have a traditional winter Christmas in Ireland with my Irish husband’s family, eating roast turkey and all the trimmings, sitting around by the open fire, or having after-dinner walks in the dark along frosty paths, looking in at the neighbouring houses with their beautiful Christmas lights and decorated trees. Then every two years as many members of my Australian family as possible gather for a Christmas-in-July somewhere in Australia. One July, in Castlemaine, there were nearly thirty of us: mum, my brothers and sisters, many nieces and nephews. We have a big dinner on one of the nights, a concert another night, and we also give each other handmade presents. The idea of making something was originally a joke, but it’s become something lovely – the little kids do great drawings or write stories, we grown-ups have made everything from hand-knitted jumpers, photo albums, personalized biscuits… I’m already counting down the days until our next gathering.
3. What was your favourite book as a child?
I had a whole shelf of favourite books and can’t choose just one: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. The Faraway Tree and Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham…
4. Where is your favourite writing place?
I write in my attic, in our house in inner-city Dublin. It’s warm, quiet and peaceful, with two windows angled high enough that I see only sky. My desk is set under the slanting roof, and I can often hear birds walking across the tiles above me. The other great thing about working in the attic is I have to climb three flights of stairs many times during the day. I get so involved in the writing that often I don’t leave the house at all for days on end – if it wasn’t for the stairs I wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
5. What are you reading at the moment?
I have four books on the go and I’m moving back and forth between them, not wanting any of them to end: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion, The Secret Place by Tana French, The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally and Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper.
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