This much I know: Sarah Webb

A good writing day beats pretty much anything else hands down.

The most rewarding thing about writing is being able to live in my head. Being paid to imagine things is quite something.

I’m disciplined about my work. I set aside three or four hours every day for writing. My mind isn’t very disciplined though.

I’ve never forgotten having lunch with writer Judy Blume in 1996. She was so kind and encouraging about my being a single mum and about writing for children.

I wrote many books before giving up the day job at Eason in Dublin eight years ago. I miss the gang I worked with and the actual work all the time. I do not miss the commute — Dun Laoghaire to Santry.

I write when the children are in school. And I have an au pair who helps in the afternoons and during school holidays so I can do my admin and spend some time with them one on one. I’m very lucky.

If I could, I’d make sure that no young person left school without being able to read.

My advice for would-be writers is to keep at it. Practice as often as you can.

Growing up, I wanted to be a ballerina. I studied ballet until I was 17, so it’s not as mad as it sounds. My next Amy Green book is about a young Irish ballerina — so I’m living my dream on paper.

I don’t believe in fate, I believe in hard work and creating your own luck.

My earliest memory is pushing Panda Ted, my black and white bear, around in my buggy at about age two. I still have him.

I adore sports films strangely enough as I hate watching actual sport. But I do love sailing and kayaking. I don’t watch much television which frees up time for reading and visiting art galleries.

I’m not sure if I believe in God. Some days I do. I like singing hymns though.

I think having a respect for life, and death, is healthy. Life is short and I don’t believe in wasting it.

The writing scene has changed since I started out. Children’s books have a higher profile now, which is excellent. And there are lots of amazing Irish women writing, inspired by Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes. Ebooks — now that’s the big change. And contact with readers — so much easier with Facebook and email.

I hope my style of writing has improved over the years but I’m still learning, every single day. The same things still interest me — family, friendship, relationships.

I always read my reviews. You always learn something from them. I’m delighted to say they have largely been positive.

I adore book tours. I love meeting young readers and finding out what they enjoy reading.

The best advice I ever got is that you can’t change other people.

I feel very connected to Ireland. I love Dun Laoghaire where I live with my family. Sometimes I long for somewhere bigger and faster, like New York or London; other times I just want to hide in West Cork and write, quietly and peacefully.

I’m always crying. I think my heart is actually outside my body. The last time I cried was today, watching The Help. It’s a moving film and the book is even better.

So far, life has taught me that I know very little.

My latest book, Sally Go Round the Stars, is a collection of nursery rhymes. I wanted to make sure that some of the rhymes from my youth were recorded for future generations — songs like Are Ye Right There, Michael, and rhymes like Adam and Eve and Pinch Me.

Sarah Webb has written nine bestselling novels including many children’s books. Her latest book ‘Sally Go Round the Stars’ is a book of Nursery Rhymes from an Irish Childhood.

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