Write on lifestyle

CATHY Kelly, 46, is a top-selling Irish fiction writer who at one point out sold Dan Brown and JK Rowling.

But she is not about to let it go to her head. “Yes, I did beat them but I can safely say they had a long run at that point,” she says.

Previously a newspaper journalist, she now lives in the shadows of the Wicklow mountains with husband John Sheehan — former MD of Sony Music Ireland — and their nine-year-old twin boys, Murray and Dylan. The family shares their home with three jack russells.

As a UNICEF ambassador she visited Mozambique for the second time last year. “There is a high HIV rate and a lot of children who are orphaned are either looked after by their grandparents if they are lucky or, if not, they are living in child-headed households.

“If people could commit to a few euro a month, that long-term commitment means we can plan what we are going to do and how we are going to help those kids.”

* The Honey Queen by Cathy Kelly, HarperCollins

What shape are you in?

I have a neck problem — a whiplash injury I got a couple of years ago. That has put the kibosh on me. Before that I would have been very fit and flexible — I did gymnastics as a kid. I have always done yoga and pilates. I am doing more and more yoga and I am getting better.

Do you have any health concerns?

My neck. And because I have spent all my working life at a keyboard I would have lots of previous neck and shoulder issues and mild carpel tunnel. My mum has arthritis … and that’s down the road. It would help if I could give up the sugar, it’s is very bad from an inflammatory point of view.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

We are incredibly healthy eaters. My husband is a coeliac so we never do fast foods or takeaways. We both cook and would do everything from scratch. I haven’t eaten wheat for about a year. I love things like tuna fish, rice and feta cheese.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

My morning cup of coffee with a big fat spoon of sugar in it. I love the Rombouts No 3.

What would keep you awake at night?

I am a desperate worrier. If there was an Olympics for worrying I would win a gold medal. As you get older you know you are not going to make it better by worrying and I am much better at claming myself.

How do you relax?

We have a wood burning stove and after dinner we will all sit around it and I will knit — a scarf — something I can pick up easily. I love all those mad, funny wools you can get right now. Reading is a great thing for me — I have about 50 books beside the bed. I love all the new Irish writers.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Mary Robinson, Michelle and Barack Obama, Kofi Anan and Nina Simone — I listen to her all the time when I write. And my family.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love the smell of garlic and onion when you are cooking. I also love the smell of my sons’ hair when it is just washed. And my little dogs when they come in from a walk and their feet smell lovely and grassy.

What would you change about your appearance?

It would have been nicer to have been a bit taller — maybe two inches. I am 5ft. I can’t bear wearing high heels because I like to be able to race around. Otherwise, I am used to how I look after 46 years.

When did you last cry?

One of my sons was reading a book about Anne Frank. As he was telling us about this book — I could feel the pain and starting crying. It was just so tragic.

What trait do you least like in others?

Unkindness. It is so easy to be kind.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

My complete inability to say no. I’m endlessly obliging — it’s a terrible failing.

Do you pray?

Yes — it’s a very personal thing.

What would cheer up your day?

If I woke up and thought it was a school day but it turned out not to be and I could lie in bed, have a cup of coffee and a little read.


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