Dark, raspberry pink. And the blue of a West Cork sea.
I love the Avoca food – delicious salads and cakes. But my favourite food of all is food cooked by someone else! Although I've written cookery books for children, I’m not the world’s greatest cook and I love eating out.
I love movies with a passion and I adore the cinema – one of my very favourite things to do in fact. I love sneaking off in the middle of the day and watching a good film in a practically empty cinema. So this is a difficult one. But I guess the films I can watch and never get bored of are: Field of Dreams (baseball film with Kevin Costner in far too tight Levis), When Harry Met Sally, Jerry Maguire, Manchester by the Sea, Spirited Away, The Wizard of Oz. I especially love all sports films, strange but true. And true life dramas also, good romcoms (some of them are dire) and documentaries. OK, I’ll stop now!
Just one? I’ll give you a few - Anne Tyler, Dr Seuss, Richard Scarry, Roddy Doyle, Kate DiCamillo (American children's writer). And books - the poetry of Raymond Carver, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, and finally, One Day by David Nicholls. For more, see below.
Apart from home, Castletownshend in West Cork. A small fishing village with the most beautiful scenery and amazing coves and beaches to explore sailing and kayaking.
This is a difficult one, I have so many favourites and they change depending on my mood - so this is by no means the definitive list, it's more of a rainy-January-lying-on-the-sofa kind of list. Some are novels, others poetry or non-fiction, but all have had an impact on my life in one way or another. I started off with a very 'worthy' list, then amended it to make it the books I couldn't live without - the ones I read over and over again.
So here's my list:
Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
I adore this funny, sweet, beautifully written book about family, grief and learning to love again. Tyler's books draw you in but this is my favourite. The story of Macon who meets a quirky dog groomer who changes his life, it's brilliant.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
One of the greatest and saddest love stories of all. I was a teenager when I first read this, and on finishing it, I turned straight back to the first page, longing to read more about Gatsby, Tom and Daisy. In fact, I must read it again, and soon! I also adored The Catcher in the Rye as a teenager.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
You don't hear much about this great series of books anymore, which is a shame as they are great fun and a brilliant read. I'd forgotten all about them until I trawled through my bookshelves (no mean feat as I have literally hundreds of books) and happened upon Sure of You, the 6th book in the series. They are all set in New York and are literally tales from New York City. They are warm, funny, slightly left-of-centre. If you like your books witty and wise and very, very colourful, these are the books for you. They were my favourites in college, and I must re-visit them again when I get a chance.
The Lifelines Poetry Books
Niall MacMonagle, an English teacher in Wesley College in Dublin, encouraged his class to write to famous people, asking them to name their favourite poem and say why they liked it. And these wonderful poetry collections were the end product. It's so interesting to see who chose what, and why. Most people have a favourite poem and there is a wide ranging mix in all three of the Lifelines books. They are still available as far as I know and they are well worth a searching out if you like poetry.
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Maeve is one of my favourite writers of all time. Her books are so compelling - they suck you in and don't let go. She's a brilliant storyteller. This is my very favourite Maeve book and a real cracker. The story of three girls with very different backgrounds. A classic! Not a bad film either.
Love Story by Erich Segal
Brilliant opening line: 'What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.' Rich boy meets poor girl and they fall in love - simple story really, one as old as the hills, but it's funny, touching and very sad. Be warned - tissues at the ready.
Venus Reborn by Martina Devlin
Martina is a great friend mine and of all her novels, this is my favourite. It's one of those rare books - well written but very easy to read, with a suspenseful plot that pulls you along and a cracking main character, the wonderfully named Venus. It's set in a fictional small town in Ireland and centres around Venus's search for her real parents. One of my favourite characters in the book is Venus' adoptive father, a real sweetie. I could go on for ages about this wonderful book so I'll stop now.
Watermelon by Marian Keyes All hail Princess Marian. How could you not love her? Funny, funny, funny! If you like your fiction witty, edgy and clever, Marian's your woman. I read Watermelon when it first came out and it blew me away. I was working in Waterstone's at the time and I remember the marketing manager at Poolbeg Press, Paula Campbell, (now publisher there) delivering large green watermelons to the staff room to celebrate the book's publication. And very tasty they were too! And the good news is, Marian is just getting better and better. This Charming Man was a stunning piece of work.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom An inspiring true story about an elderly college professor who's dying. Every Tuesday he meets up with one of his pupils - Mitch Albom - and Morrie tells him the secrets of a happy, good life. I've re-read it many time and it always makes me think.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier A triumphant book, full of atmosphere, with a cracking mystery at the centre of the tale. And the final book on my list.