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Why it's good to have more than one string to your bow

I'm sure Russell Crowe regrets walking out of that interview where the presenter suggested his English accent wasn't up to scratch in Robin Hood.

For now the film will be remembered primarily for Russell throwing a strop. Well, you know what, I don't blame him one bit.

The presenter involved is no doubt receiving a regular salary for his work. Russell, however, is only as good as his last film.

And these days each and every major film costs millions of pounds to make and one bad review could spell personal ruin.

So I feel nothing but sympathy for Russell and I do hope the rest of his interviews aren't quite as traumatic.

I remember one of the first interviews I gave when I became a writer.

My debut novel had charted at number four in Ireland and requests for interviews were coming in thick and fast. But I'm a naturally shy, self-effacing and modest kind of girl, so when I was asked to describe myself, I said I was "just a humble housewife". And, sadly, the label has stuck.

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Not that there's anything wrong with being a housewife. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with being a housewife.

But in spite of my books being published in 17 countries around the world, including the UK, the US and Russia, I still get portrayed as a humble housewife who does a bit of writing in her spare time. And no doubt, when I do point out my little successes, folks will say the humble housewife is getting above herself.

So maybe at this point I shouldn't mention that I also paint, I have a degree in drawing and painting (Design and Illustration) and that my paintings are available for sale (check out www.sharonowens.co.uk ).

It's a strange way to make a living, I'll tell you that. I may be the only novelist-artist in the country.

I work six-days-a-week and pour my heart and soul into every book I write and every painting I paint. But when it comes to interviews I simply fall apart.

During a book launch in Dublin in 2003 I was so nervous I had a hypoglycaemic attack, fainted clean away in a Thai restaurant on Grafton Street and ended up on a heart-monitor and a drip in St Vincent's Hospital.

It's hard to act like a glittering celebrity when you're lying on a trolley in A&E and a doctor is asking you if you know the name of the Prime Minister.

So just for the record, here are a few facts about me that I never got around to telling the media. I'm proud to hail from Omagh, but I haven't set any of my books there because I never wanted to trade off my father's fame.

He sang in a show-band, do you see? They were called The Buckaroos. And while we're on the subject of famous relatives, my late great-uncle was Benedict Kiely, a renowned writer and broadcaster and a Saoi of Aosdana. Will that swing me a film deal, do you reckon?

I've been happily married for almost 18 years to my childhood sweetheart, Dermot, and we were together for eight years before that.

I had hyperemesis all during my only pregnancy, I lost three stone in three months and narrowly missed ending up in hospital on a drip (an omen of things to come, I wonder?). And after all that thoroughly unpleasant hyperemesis, I was so weak I had to have an emergency C-section. I've been called Sarah Owens during so many interviews I'm thinking of changing my name by deed-poll just to avoid any future embarrassment. My favourite film is Edward Scissorhands. I have a stationery fetish and like nothing more than browsing for new notebooks, posh writing paper and fountain pens.

I'm a dedicated pacifist and refuse to even argue with anybody. My favourite meal is tea and toast. My favourite writer is Janet McNeill. I have never been arrested or sectioned; not yet anyway. Touch wood, etc. My nickname at school was Sasquatch (Bigfoot) because I have, well, big feet. I think that's about it for now.

Except to say I am looking for a gallery to exhibit my new paintings, if anybody is interested; and a massive thank-you to all my readers and supporters and friends, of course.


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