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All the best: Claire McGowan discusses her favourite things

 

By Kerry McKittrick

The 35-year-old is a crime and women's fiction writer originally from Rostrevor, who now lives in London. She will be taking part in this year's Eastside Arts Festival.

My best moment

Finishing my first book back in 2010. It was never published, but just actually achieving that was a great moment.

My best song

The Tracks of My Tears, by Smokey Robinson, is my old karaoke favourite. It's got great lyrics and is quite a sad song.

My best way to relax

I like to go swimming. There's an open air pool or lido close to where I live in London, and it's great when the weather's nice. It's not heated, so it can be a bit chilly sometimes.

My best job

I'm more or less writing full-time now, although I do some teaching at a university too. I love working from home and I'm quite disciplined with it. I don't mind working on my own for long periods of time either, so it suits me really well. I spent some years working in offices and for charitable organisations, and it was a bit of a risk to take the leap to full-time writing. It's been a little bit like starting my own business, but it's been a dream come true.

My best advice

It's actually from a book. It's called Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and someone gave it to me when I was 18. I was living in Rostrevor, and really wanted to be a writer, but I'd never met anyone like that and didn't think that I could do it as a job. The book really let me see how I could.

My best movie

LA Confidential. It's very stylish and entertaining, but dark and sad at the same time. It's even quite romantic. Curtis Hanson also directed a film called In Her Shoes, about two sisters. I like that they are two very different styles of film, in the same way that I wrote two different styles of fiction.

My best gift

My parents gave me a diary for Christmas when I was about 10. That was the thing that got me into the habit of writing every day, which has really stood me in good stead. Lots of people now give me notebooks as presents, as they know I like them.

My best achievement

That's getting published. It was something I really wanted to do, and I hadn't managed to finish a book. My first published book was The Fall, but it doesn't have anything to do with the TV series. I didn't mean to write a crime novel, but it worked out to fit into the genre perfectly.

My best buy

My Macbook. I put off getting one for years and just had my really old laptop. The Macbook is much, much more expensive, but it's so portable and so fast too. My old laptop took 10 minutes to warm up.

My best book

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. I'm sure lots of people say it's their favourite book, but it's so gripping and beautifully written. It's the kind of thing I would like to write if I could. I've read it about 10 times now. I am a big reader and go through two or three books a week. I read a lot of crime because I know a lot of crime writers and try to keep up with their books. I also read good women's fiction, which can sometimes be hard to find. Something that's light-hearted but meaningful, like anything by Marian Keyes. She's really funny about really serious and sad subjects.

  • Claire McGowan will be hosting a crime fiction writing workshop followed by a Q&A session on Sunday, August 6, as part of the Eastside Arts Festival. For tickets and information, visit www.eastsidearts.net

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