Publication: NZ BookLovers

Her trademarks are a wry sense of humour and a big heart – internationally bestselling Irish author Cathy Kelly is back with her latest novel It Started in Paris, a candid exploration of male-female relationships, blended families, and the connectedness of community.

In Auckland for a whirlwind tour of New Zealand, Cathy took time out to chat to NZ Booklovers about her new novel, the lives of women, motherhood and her work as an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland.

You are here to publicise your latest book It started with Paris, your 15th novel. The novel starts off with one particular event – an engagement at the top of the Eiffel tower – and which is then the catalyst for a whole range of developments within the wider group of friends and family of the engaged couple – can you tell me a bit about how you came up with that idea?

Often when I’m half way through writing one book I begin to think of the idea for the next book – I was writing The Honey Queen and I had a widow in it, and then I began to think – you know half way through one book you always think of another book that you are waiting to write, because the other one is getting harder and you think “I’m sick of it, I want to write the new one.” Which of course you can’t – but so with It Started in Paris I wanted to write about women who were on their own for various reasons, like somebody who was just getting divorced – where could she go from there because her confidence was fraught? Then I thought about another character who had been divorced a long time, and her ex-husband had somebody new and she hadn’t – and then she ends up coming into contact with her ex-husband a lot more. So it’s about different types of break ups and how it works out. Another character is a man who has a break up with his wife and its very acrimonious, and the children are being used as ammunition, and then he falls in love with one of the other characters who is widowed, and I was trying to write about it in shades of grey – there is no black and white, there are no bad people, there are no good people, it’s just people who react in different ways, and it takes them time to get over things. So I think the romantic engagement in the beginning of the book is a catalyst and a contrast between this “ideal” thing that everyone has when they start out and they are very young and innocent, and don’t know any better, and then it goes on to the real world. I like writing about “the real” and even though there is warmth, and humour and things work out in my books, I want it to be real too.

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