Congratulations on your new novel Doreen - What a stunning cover! I love the title 'Night Swimming' - I immediately thought of the R.E.M song, is there a connection? There most certainly is a connection between my novel and the REM song! When I was writing the first, tentative draft of what became this book, I was casting around for a title. I was listening to Automatic For The People, REM’s seminal album, and on came the song. It fitted perfectly with the themes within the novel, and with the thread of slipping outside at night to play. I’m a huge REM fan, so it was meant to be!
Night Swimming is set in the 1970's, it will resonate with a lot of readers that grew up then. What were the reasons for setting it then? Is it an era you always wanted to write about?I chose the 1970s because it was the decade of my own early childhood, and 1976 was the standout year because of the heatwave. I needed to have good weather in the story, because the book is essentially about loss of innocence and a love affair. I wanted to have the weather reflect the passion of the characters, and I knew that if I set the book in a cold January that the chances of a torrid affair would be slim! Also, the seventies are really hot nowadays in terms of their cultural value, and my generation is both nostalgic and protective of that era. I wanted the story of childhood to be authentic, and what could be more authentic than my own experience of that time? To set the same story in the present day wouldn’t work for me, because of technology. There are two missing fathers, an unbridgeable gap between the Irish and the American experience of life, and an ignorance of the wider world, all of which can solved instantly now with a quick Google search. I wanted to keep that innocence, spin it out and see where it took me.
|Author Doreen Finn|
Your writing is beautiful, so vivid and concise - who are the writers you like to read? That you admire?I love good writing. I will cartwheel over broken glass for good prose and well-developed characters. There are so many books being published now that it takes a discerning reader to pick out the books that will appeal to us personally. Mostly, I read women, and within that I tend to read Irish women. It’s not a choice as such, just more the way my tastes lie. My absolute favourite writer of all is Maggie O’Farrell, who I just adore, and who I wish would bring out a book every week so I’d never again have to wonder what to read next! I also admire your good self, Niamh, Julia Kelly, Nuala NiConchuir, Sally Rooney, Claire Kilroy, Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, Janet Fitch, Sadie Jones, Kit de Waal.
So keep at it, stick with it, and see where the stories take you. I don’t plot and I don’t draw out maps for my books. I start with a character and a setting, usually a female in a house, and I take it from there. The other most important and vital piece of advice to budding writers is to read. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Never stop reading, because it’s only through seeing what other writers produce that you will learn and understand what you want to do yourself.