Roisin Meaney talks about Two Fridays in April and random acts of kindness.
Can you explain the significance of the ‘two Fridays’ referred to in the title of your new book?
The first Friday, April 2, during which most of the story takes place, refers to the first anniversary of Finn Darling’s death, and the seventeenth birthday of his daughter Una. The second Friday is the 29th…of a different April.
The book shifts between the perspectives of each of the four characters during one particular day, but at times their narratives overlap – did you find this difficult to plan?
All of the characters have bits of the day in common – for example, they all see a pair of kites flying in the early evening sky – and at times two or more of them meet and interact. It was tricky from the point of view of timing; I had to be sure they all saw the kites at roughly the same time, as they were only flying for a few minutes, and I had to make sure their common scenes happened at the same time in their separate interpretations. I also had to be careful that the bits of dialogue I reported from more than one point of view matched.
In the story, Una remembers that her father was a big fan of the Random Acts of Kindness movement, and this influences her journey in the book. You must be fan of this movement yourself?
I love it. I’ve been aware of it for years, and would always try and practise it where I saw an opportunity, but in recent times, in the light of the atrocities that are being perpetuated in so many parts of the world, I’ve become more evangelical about spreading the word, and I’ve started a Facebook page with a friend (Random Acts of Kindness Limerick) that encourages people to get in touch with their own random acts, or to tell of a kindness that was done to them by a stranger.
Do you have a favourite character from your novels or one you identify with more than the others?
I bond with all my characters while I’m writing the books: I’m devastated if one of them dies – and leaving them at the end is always a wrench – but the one I have a particularly soft spot for is Laura Dolittle from the Roone series of books, the third of which I’m currently writing. She’s direct and funny and doesn’t suffer fools (like her mother in law) gladly.
What do you do to relax after a long writing day?
I go for a run, or I watch a bit of telly, or I get together with pals for dinner. Sometimes all three.
How do you cope when you’re stuck/suffering from writer’s block?
I put aside the offending work and stop thinking about it for a day or two. That generally sorts it out. (fingers crossed)
What’s next for you?
I’m in the middle of the next book, which is set like two earlier ones (One Summer and After the Wedding) on the small island of Roone off the coast of Kerry. It’s Christmas (the book will be published in the autumn) and the islanders are battening down the hatches for a spell of bad weater that Anne Byrnes swears is on the way, not realising that it’s more than just a storm they’re in for.
It’s Friday, April 2. Daphne Darling knows that she should be celebrating her stepdaughter Una’s 17th birthday, but it’s hard, because the date also marks the one-year anniversary of her husband Finn’s death. Daphne can’t turn to her own mother, Isobel, for advice – ever since Isobel ran out on Daphne and Dad Jack for a new life, they have never been close. Finn’s elderly mother Mo is still grief-stricken at the death of her only son, so she is of little help. But by the end of that day in April, things will have changed for all of them. Una, it would seem, has disappeared…
She’s told them all that she is eating at a friend’s house, but instead, she’s at a mystery wedding – with the last people on earth she might be expected to have befriended. And what’s more, Una has decided to track down her ‘real’ Dad, with the help of a stranger… Una’s bravery, her foolishness, forces Daphne, Isobel and Mo out of their shells and for the first time since Finn’s death, each woman has to confront herself, her grief, and to work out what really matters in life. And when the next Friday in April rolls around, it marks a fresh start for each of them … a new beginning.
In 1977 Roisin Meaney finished a sentence and won a car. The sentence was ‘I would like to win a Ford Fiesta because my father won’t let me drive his.’ In the 24 years that followed she wrote a lot more sentences and won a lot more prizes. In 2001 she finally decided to keep writing sentences until she filled a book. Since then she’s written ten adult novels and two children’s books. Her tenth novel, After the Wedding, was published in Ireland by Hachette Books in March 2014 and her latest, Two Fridays in April, was released on March 5, 2015.