Sinead was born and raised in Dublin where she grew up surrounded by books. Her mother is an author of children’s books. Growing up, Sinead says she was inspired by watching her mother writing at the kitchen table and then being published. From that moment on, her childhood dream was to write a novel. After a couple of years toying with ideas, she joined a creative writing group and began to write The Baby Trail. The bitter-sweet comedy of a couple struggling to conceive has now been translated into fifteen languages.
Since writing the book, Sinead has moved back to Dublin where she lives with her husband and baby son. The sequel to The Baby Trail will be published in August and will be called A Perfect Match. Sinead is currently working on her third novel.
Sinead, can you tell us about your latest book, ‘A Perfect Match’, and how it came about?
It’s the sequel to The Baby Trail. So it covers ‘what happens next’ in Emma and James’ quest for parenthood. The novel follows them as they jump through hoops on the adoption course and eventually travel to Russia to adopt a baby.
How long did it take you to write?
It took about ten months to complete.
How do you organise your writing day? For example, where do you write? And at what time of the day are you at your writing best?
I am definitely at my best in the morning. I do my best writing between nine and one in the afternoon.
Do you use a computer or write long hand?
Thank god for PCs – my writing is illegible, even to me.
Do you edit as you go along? Or at the end of the first draft?
I tend to edit each chapter as I go along. I won’t move forward until I’m happy with the last chapter. It’s nice in a way as it means that by the time I write The End, it tends to really mean – The End…which is a relief!
Do you use the Internet for research? Do you find it useful? What other research tips can you give writers?
I use the Internet all the time for research and also – in the case of A Perfect Match I met up with women who had adopted and got their first hand versions of what the process is really like. You can get so much information from the Internet, but it’s hard to get the real emotions of a situation, so I do find first hand accounts very helpful.
Are there any books or websites you would particularly recommend for writers?
I found Stephen King’s book On Writing excellent for tips. Also a book called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is a helpful insight into the process of writing.
Has your life changed since writing your first book, ‘The Baby Trail’? Or since becoming a full time writer?
My life has changed immeasurably. I now do something I adore every day and it is a privilege that I never take for granted. I still have to pinch myself when I wake up.
How did you get your first book published? Was it difficult?
I joined a creative writing course and the tutor became a mentor to me and encouraged me to send the book out to prospective publishers. I was very lucky to get an immediate response from Penguin. Once I had a publishing offer, I then set about getting an agent. I would advise anyone to get an agent, they are worth their weight in gold – well, the good ones are!
The book was based on your own personal experiences, how did you find the personal questions?
Writing about something you have personal experience of is tricky. I found the personal questions difficult at first, but then I got used to them and in fact it was quite liberating. The most important thing was that I felt passionately about my subject – infertility – and that made it easier to overcome my initial fear of talking about it.
Do you have an agent? And if so, how did you find him/her?
I found my agent via the Artists Yearbook. I narrowed it down to the four agents I felt would have the relevant experience to best represent my novel. I met all four and then decided to go with Gillon Aitken. You have to like, trust and respect your agent. So far he has done a wonderful job.
Did you find the publicity for your first book hard?
Publicity is a necessary part of being a writer nowadays. It’s just something you have to accept and try to make the most of. It is never easy, but my experience so far has been pretty positive.
What are you working on at present? When will it be published?
I am working on my third novel which will be published in Autumn 2006.
Sinead, you have a baby boy. How do you juggle being a mother and being a writer? Do you find this difficult?
Juggling the two is tricky but I am lucky to have found a fantastic child minder who looks after my little boy four days a week, which allows me the luxury to write.
What type of books do you like to read? What books are on your bedside table at the moment? Do you have a favourite book?
I read everything I can get my hands on. Currently I’m reading Thomas Keneally’s biography of Lincoln. I’ve just finished a fantastic and very moving book called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.
And finally, do you have any advice or tips for writers?
Believe in yourself; don’t give up; don’t let knock backs stop you from achieving your dream … keep at it!