I really like Marian Keyes. I could listen to her natter on for hours because I find her sense of wit intelligent, sharp and unmistakably Irish – which also makes her such an engaging writer. Like Maeve Binchy, she is a true story teller and takes an unabashed approach to honesty that really marks her out as a strong and unique voice in Irish female fiction. I laugh, I cry and I genuinely learn a little bit more about the human condition when I read her books or listen to her interviews. Just follow her on twitter, you’ll know what I mean.
Anyhoo, I decided to take a stroll down by the shore the other day and brought my headphones to listen to some ‘walk faster’ music. I ended up on a radio station I NEVER listen to – it’s fuddy-duddy’ Radio 1, for fuddy-duddies. But lo and behold, who was being interviewed, but Marian Keyes. Hurray! Despite the fact that she was being interviewed by Marian Finucane, who, with her love of smoking cigarettes, doesn’t exactly have the dulcet tones you’d imagine are required for radio, but there you go. The fuddy-duddies must really like her too, because she earns about €300,000 per annum for approximately 4 hours of radio a week. That’s more than the Taoiseach!
But I digress. So I’m pleasantly surprised to find Marian (Keyes that is) in me ear, with all her endearing turns of phrase (or is it turn of phrases?). Inevitably, it soon becomes clear that this interview is going to be all about Marian’s personal struggle with depression – something which has been well documented over the last few years. I read all about her efforts to cope with the illness in the paper and she even wrote a book about how her love of baking really helped her through. I think she’s single-handedly removing a lot of the stigma associated with the illness and I really respect her for that. It can’t be easy to talk about.
So despite the fact that I was on a lovely walk on a sunny morning by the sea and looking for ‘walk faster’ music, I was drawn into the conversation and became really engrossed in Marian’s story. She used a great analogy for depression, saying that it’s “like having a stone in your shoe, but instead of trying to get rid of it, you learn to walk with it”. It was difficult to hear of her suicidal tendancies, which the interviewer seemed intent on analysing to the nth degree, but again she spoke with such honesty and courage, that I found myself engaged, despite already knowing the details.
So, to my surprise, this quote from Marian Keyes came out the following day about her interview:
“She has the compassion and empathy of a cardboard box.”
“I tried my best but feel shitty and ashamed and frustrated that ‘Marians tragic tragicness’ seems to be the most interesting thing about me.”
I couldn’t believe it, she sounded so animated during the interview, even though she was talking about some difficult issues. She came across as someone who has been through challenging times and as a result, is more comfortable in her own skin – which is of course a great inspiration to other people out there with similar issues. However, when I thought about it, it suddenly dawned on me, I hadn’t a clue what her book was called. Surely, she was on that radio program to launch her new novel, but all I can remember the interviewer saying was, “Good luck with your book”. Granted, I missed the beginning, she may have mentioned it then, but surely to God the most important thing to the writer is to publicise her new book? (It’s The Woman Who Stole My Life by the way, I haven’t read it yet).
Ms Keyes was obviously annoyed that once again, her personal woes took centre stage over her writing career and I don’t blame her. But isn’t that the media? They reduce celebrities to caricatures and prefer to find an angle that will grab the headlines, rather than focus on their work. Marian Keyes is such a successful author and personally, I’d like to know more about her writing process, her inspiration etc., but is it the case that once you open up to the media in that way, the boundaries become blurred and suddenly it’s open season on your personal life?
As a self-published author, I am always looking for new ways to promote my book and can only dream about having Marian Finucane poking her well-paid nose into my business, but conversely, it must be very frustrating to be one of the most sucessful authors in female fiction and find that nobody wants to talk about your books! You can listen to the interview here – be warned, it’s long.
Or you can check out my novels on Amazon!