This much I know: Eimear McBride, writer

Writing is a way of understanding life and a way of having space to think.

My advice to anyone is if you can think of anything else that makes you happy, do that instead. But if you are determined to write, do something about it.

As a child, I was bookish and wild. I was lazy at school but interested in the world. I was constantly being told to be quiet.

I was born in Liverpool but we moved to Ireland when I was three where I grew up with my brothers, first in Co Sligo until I was 14 and then in Castlebar until I was 17. Both my parents were nurses. My father died when I was eight but my mother is a keen reader and always encouraged me to write.

After sitting my Leaving Certificate I went to London and studied drama at The Drama Centre. It was a real eye opener. It was very intense and we were expected to read very widely. That is where I met my husband William Galinsky. He is a theatre director. We have a two-year old child.

Six months after I left drama school, my brother Donagh died. He had a brain tumour. He was 28.

My biggest challenge so far has been not allowing grief to ruin my life. I was lost for a number of years. Literature was the thing that helped get me through it.

I don’t really understand the writing industry and I don’t understand how someone can be taught to write. Writing is a process and has to be part of a routine.

I’m definitely a morning person. I prefer to work in the morning but I’m not that disciplined.

I wrote A Girl is a Half-formed Thing when I was 27 but it took me nine years to get it published. I had a lot of doubts over the years, thinking things were not going to come right and wondering if I was wasting my time writing.

The best advice I received was from my mother, about money. She told me that acquiring wealth is a waste of a life. I have been through times of grinding poverty, where lack of money was a terrible threat, but life had to come before lifestyle and that was the price. I had plenty of tempting jobs — in offices and libraries — but mostly horrible phone answering jobs in the UK.

The reaction to the book has been far better than I hoped. I hate reading my own work but I enjoy the question and answer sessions after readings. It is interesting to hear peoples’ reactions to the book.

My idea of bliss is a quiet room with a view of roofs.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d choose to be James Joyce on the day he finished Ulysses.

I’d like to believe in an after life, but I don’t really.

My idea of misery is giving interviews. It is odd to talk about yourself and your work, especially when you are used to no one being interested.

At home, my husband does all the cooking and I do all the cleaning. I wouldn’t say I like it, but I do it.

Evenings are for boxed sets, like Game of Thrones. We’re on series three. And I’m interested in photography.

If I could change one thing in our society, it would be the lack of general kindness. I dislike the way in which the internet has allowed people to feel comfortable with being mean. I use the internet purely for information and checking facts.

I have no real interest in fitness but I do occasionally try to jog because I know it’s good for me. If I could sit on the sofa and eat chips forever, I would.

Eimear McBride will read from A Girl is a Half-formed Thing on Saturday, July 12, at 1pm in Bantry Library as part of the West Cork Literary Festival which takes place in Bantry from July 6 to 12. Admission is free. Full information on Ireland’s Premiere Literary Festival is on or LoCall 1850-788789


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