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Interview with Cupán Fae Author Caitríona O’Malley

Caitríona O’Malley is a writer from Kildare. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from UCD and has been published in Hot Press, the UCD anthology Bridges Between, the zines This Is Not Where I Belong and The Runt, and the literary journal Paper Lanterns. She’s currently working on her first novel. Caitríona has been a member of Cupán Fae for 10 months and has contributed to the Fierce & Proud anthology.

Who are your favourite authors to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on your writing style?

My list of favourite writers is an eclectic one which includes Jane Austen, Stephen King and Zadie Smith. I also enjoy Nick Hornby and Irvine Welsh. With regard to my writing style, I like to borrow a bit here and there. I wrote a short story about a serial killer inspired by the acute terror of Stephen King’s IT. I wrote about a pathetic washed up TV star inspired by the sad sack narrator of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. And I wrote a parody of gothic romance heavily inspired by Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights. 

What genre do you like to write in most?

Now this might be a genre I’ve invented myself but I like the genre of humorous realism. I love to write about characters making an absolute bags of their lives. For example, I once wrote about a struggling writer stuck working the graveyard shift in Dunnes Stores. My novel is about a struggling writer on the dole. Do you notice a theme? Haha! I find that readers can relate to people who don’t necessarily have the most perfect life. We’re all just muddling along really, and I like to reflect that in my writing.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

Well, the big one is my novel, with the working title Toil and Trouble. It’s about a woman who’s languishing on the dole, with dreams of becoming a writer. Between that, I’m also working on short stories to submit to writing competitions. I’ve started dabbling in a bit of poetry again recently, which is a lot of fun.

Which of your short stories did you enjoy writing the most, and why?

I think it was The Eternal Slide, which I wrote for my MA in Creative Writing end of year anthology. It was about a man called Tim whose life is in a shambles: his girlfriend is sick of him, he’s got a crappy job, and his best friend is a pervert. I think I enjoyed pouring a lot of my own insecurities into a character. In that sense, it was very cathartic to write. I also had a lot of fun with the more bawdy elements of the story.

When did you write your first short story? How old were you? What was it about?

The first story I clearly remember writing was when I was about eight, so it would have been in or around 2001. I had gotten some lovely glitter pencils from a friend for my birthday. I sat down by the fire in our sitting room and wrote my magnum opus by hand. I remember reading it aloud to my mother after each chapter. It was so bad so fair play to her for the patience she showed! It was about two young people, Sarah and Jack, who fall in love and even have sex at one point (I had only recently discovered sex and made some very childish and ham-fisted references to it). I’d love to find that story and re-read it!

What does your ideal writer lifestyle look like?

Well, first of all, it doesn’t include a soul-draining job on the side! I’d love to wake up in the morning and have a leisurely breakfast while reading a book, maybe a collection of essays or dip into some poetry. Then I’d write from eleven to one and maybe meet a friend for a long lunch. I’d write again from three to five then spend the rest of the evening researching, reading, and plotting. Ideally, I’d be living with my boyfriend Mark in a castle. A girl can dream, right? Haha!

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