A question of taste: Children’s author Deirdre Sullivan

A question of taste: Children’s author Deirdre Sullivan
Deirdre Sullivan

Children’s author Deirdre Sullivan appears at the Towers and Tales festival in Lismore on Saturday. She also works as an SEN teacher, and currently lives in Dublin, writes Des O’Driscoll

Favourite children’s book ever: This is such a hard one. I loved Roald Dahl, particularly Matilda and The BFG as a young reader, and I adored June Considine’s The Luvenders Trilogy, and Orla Melling’s The Druid’s Tune, as well as Michael Scott’s collections of Irish Myths and Legends. But the collected works of Beatrix Potter my Dad gave me for a childhood birthday holds a special place in my heart. As well as a collection of wonderful stories, it’s a collection of memories, of being read to, of being loved.

Best recent book you’ve read: I recently finished a collection of essays by Laura Bates called Misogynation, which I really liked, and I’m just after finishing a verse novel called The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, which made me cry in the hairdressers.

Best recent film: Isle of Dogs.

Best recent show you’ve seen: Tara Flynn’s play with thisispopbaby Not A Funny Word was the best piece of theatre I’d seen in ages.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): ‘I Want It That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys. Because sometimes you just want things a certain way, you know?

First book that really moved you: The Little Mermaid. It was the first fairytale I encountered without a happy ending and there’s a seashell shard of it still stuck inside my heart.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen: There was a Nick Cave gig I went to where I was happy for weeks after.

Tell us about your TV viewing: I’m rewatching Veronica Mars at the moment and it’s still very good. I love Crazy Ex Girlfriend, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: I’m in a podcast. It’s a horror one called Down Below the Reservoir, and we read stories written by my friend Graham Tugwell. As a listener, I enjoy Let’s Not Meet, Dear Prudence, Dreamgun and The Black Tapes…

You’re curating your dream literary festival — which three authors are on the bill, living or dead? Maeve Brennan, Dorothy Parker, Angela Carter. I have a type.

Your best celebrity encounter: I met Bosco when I was three. I was the cutest leprachaun in the St Patrick’s day parade and he gave me a skipping rope and a complete and unabridged copy of Treasure Island which I made my poor dad read to me. I still remember how bored and betrayed I felt. Like, this was BOSCO. My best friend from the telly? How could he have gotten my tastes so wrong? Would a talking animal show up and save the day? I had to give up. Also I couldn’t skip.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or cultural event — where and why?

See I’d be a peasant in history, and it was kind of tough for peasants in history. There’s a lot of lurking I’d like to do, but if I were whooshed back to fancy history, I’d be mopping the floors till I got sent to a Magdalene laundry. So, I’d have to go full Celt I reckon. 

Any interesting ancestors or family? I have a great grandmother who hid guns under a baby.

Unsung heroes: People with disability. They get lauded as “heroes” a lot, and thoroughly dismissed even more. I’d like to live in a world where people are just people and we shape the world to welcome them appropriately.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree? I don’t really like the idea of being a queen. But I would like the world to be kinder, and repealing the Eighth would be a good start to that. I’d also like non-verbal communication to be highlighted more in schools, because we need to listen to all kinds of people, not just the ones who can emit the right series of sounds to communicate their meaning at the appropriate time. Giving people the space to be themselves, and respecting that there are all kinds of selves to be, and worth being is something that I value and work towards.

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