Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Marian Keyes does it again...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Dean Chalkley 
Introduction by Melissa Amster

In 1999, when I was first introduced to Marian Keyes's writing through her wonderful novel, Watermelon, I never thought in a million years that I would get to interview her at my book blog (which was not even a concept at the time). So I am beyond thrilled to have her here at CLC today! 

It's because of Marian that I created CLC in the first place. Melissa S. (who started at the blog with me) was a big fan too and we reconnected (after losing touch for many years) over our love for Marian's novels. That inspired me to find other chick lit fans...and here we are. I also won one of her books in a giveaway a few months before deciding to start a book blog. 

A little while after reading Watermelon, I got Rachel's Holiday and pretty much devoured that book. So I'm delighted that Rachel is back in Marian's latest novel, Again, Rachel. Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada, we have one copy for a lucky reader! (I'd just suggest reading Rachel's Holiday first....you won't regret it!) I'm hoping Marian will bring back some other Walsh sisters in future novels. In the meantime, it is such an honor to have her at CLC today and I hope you will enjoy reading our interview. (There are some light spoilers for Rachel's Holiday, but she doesn't give away a lot.)

Marian Keyes is a phenomenon. The multi-million copy, internationally bestselling author of some of the most widely loved genre-defying novels of the past thirty years – such as Rachel’s Holiday, Anybody Out There, and Grown Ups – has millions of fans around the world. They are irresistibly drawn by her warmth and wit, fearless honesty, relatable characters and relationships, and sheer storytelling magic. Not only has Marian inspired and entertained countless readers, but also the next generation of writers too.

As a beloved author herself, Marian is a passionate champion of storytellers everywhere, playing an active role in encouraging new voices. She has been the chair of judges for the Comedy Women in Print prize, a sponsor of the Curtis Brown Creative Marian Keyes scholarship, and most recently ran her own hugely popular Instagram Live series bringing free creative writing courses to thousands of viewers. Marian also uses her position to raise some of the most challenging issues of our time, including addiction, immigration, depression, domestic violence and the Repeal the Eighth campaign.

Both critically acclaimed and commercially unstoppable, Marian’s fourteenth novel, Grown Ups, went straight to No.1 in hardback and paperback in four global territories: UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Audiobook of the Year. In addition to her novels, Marian has written two collections of journalism, as well as been the star of the second series of her hit show Between Ourselves aired on BBC Radio 4 at the start of 2021.

Again, Rachel, the sequel to her ground-breaking novel Rachel’s Holiday, will be Marian’s fifteenth novel.

Marian is based in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. (Bio courtesy of Marian's website.)

Visit Marian online:

Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess.

But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor, she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive sneakers.

But with the sudden reappearance of a man she'd once loved, her life wobbles.

She'd thought she was settled. Fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change?

Is it time to think again, Rachel? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
That it’s as if I’ve seen into the head of a reader and articulated their exact feelings. That I ‘get’ feelings like no other writer does. Also, that I make readers laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page, that’s always nice to hear. (Thanks, guys 😊)

What was it like for you to revisit Rachel's story after all this time?
It was both lovely and very daunting! Rachel’s Holiday is a book that meant so much to a lot of people – many people got clean or sober after reading it – that I didn’t want to do anything to sully its memory. Also the relationship between Rachel and Luke was beautiful but in order to write a sequel, the previous ‘happy ending’ has to be altered in some way – that was something that was hard to do. But it was such a pleasure to revisit Rachel and the entire Walsh family. In fact, I began writing Again, Rachel just as we went into our first lockdown here in Ireland and I couldn’t see my family – but writing about the Walshes was almost a substitute for the real thing.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing Again, Rachel?
The biggest challenge was making sure I reconnected with the character, the essence of Rachel, but writing her as twenty years older. It was a tricky balancing act. She had to be the same – but… different. Similarly with Luke. He was such a good man in Rachel’s Holiday, but at the start of Again, Rachel, he seems horrible. Explaining everything that has happened since the end of the last book, making it credible, was quite a challenge. But the rewards were huge! Again, Rachel is essentially a love story and writing that was such a huge pleasure!

What is the oldest piece of clothing you own?
Ha! That’s a funny one. I actually have my first communion dress from when I was seven years of age. It is absolutely tiny. 

If we were to visit you in Dublin, what are some must-see places you would show us?
We’d get on the Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), which hugs the coastline from north of the city right down to the next county. It’s a great way to get a sense of the character of Dublin, from the inner city rooftops to the beauty of the sea.

We’d skip all of the cliché touristy stuff, like visiting the book of Kells and Trinity College (unless you really wanted to) and instead we’d go to the Jamestown flea market (I adore flea markets, they’re great ways of getting under the skin of a place). We’d have lunch in Bastible's, then a pint of Guinness in Grogan’s, followed by some stand-up in the Comedy Cellar because Irish people are very funny. Then you can come home with me (I live in a Georgian house that dates back to 1840, in a seaside suburb called Dun Laoghaire) and sleep in my spare bedroom.

Who were your role models when you were growing up?
That’s a tricky one because at the time (the early seventies) Ireland was a repressed country which really didn’t reward difficult women – and as we know, well-behaved women seldom make history. So for years and years there was nobody. This is actually a strange realisation to make! These days, I get a huge amount of inspiration and courage from women who are younger than me – those who know their boundaries and rights, those who will defend vulnerable people. I think they’re amazing.  

Thanks to Marian for a lovely interview and to Penguin Random House Canada for sharing her book with our readers. For an additional chance to win, visit Goodreads.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends April 10th at midnight EST.

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Melissa said...

Absolutely not the same as I was 20 years ago, in that I was a teenager. For the most part, I was more focused on spending time with friends and having fun, as teens should be, but these days, a lot of personal responsibilities and struggles can be challenging at times and overwhelming. Though, with that being said, I’ve experienced a lot of growth and an increase in personal insight, as an adult.

Jeanna said...

In some ways yes, but life changes you!

traveler said...

Not at all because certain major health issues have changed my outlook and life. An ever expanding family makes life interesting.

Dee DeTarsio said...

Nope--not the same at all! I think the best part about aging 20 years is losing the ego as you go! Great interview--I've read everything Marian Keyes has written and can't wait to catch up with Again, Rachel! Great interview--thanks!❤️

Cherisse said...

In different ways yes!

Kelley said...

No I am always a work in progress. Thank you kindly

Mary C said...


bn100 said...

not really

Anita Yancey said...

I am pretty much the same, just older.

diannekc said...

I'm definitely not the same as I was 20 years ago. For one thing, I'm 20 years older.

Annmarie Weeks said...

Twenty years ago, I was about to give birth to my youngest child. His older sister was 2 1/2. And just being a mom over the past 2 decades has changed me immensely! I have grown. I have found love in my heart that I never knew I had. I have become less of a worrier, I have become more giving, I have learned to pick my battles. The essence of who I am as a person is still the same, but having 20 more years of experience has given me that much more knowledge of how to navigate through this life!

Mary Preston said...

In essentials, yes.

Lelandlee said...

No way

Xia Lee said...