Claudia Carroll: 'I'm long term single, at the point where I'm giving up'
LOVE: Claudia Carroll makes a living from love stories, but tells Sharon McGowan that she's still looking for Mr Right
FOR Claudia Carroll, her books are like her children.
The actress-turned-author has quite the impressive brood, having knocked out a book a year for the last 12 years, including her eagerly awaited new arrival, Meet Me In Manhattan.
Judging by the way the Dublin native (47) lovingly speaks about each title, it's clear to see her passion for what she does.
Her eyes twinkle as she reveals her book deal with publisher HarperCollins has been renewed and that she has even started writing "lucky number 13".
"It's very exciting to see your book on the shelves," she says. "I'm not a mother, but I'd imagine that it's similar to how a mother feels when she sees her baby.
"I've written 12 books in 12 years and I have so say, it's gone by in such a blur - I just love it."
Her latest offering explores the world of internet dating and the 'catfishing' phenomenon - when online daters fool people into thinking they're someone they're not.
Meet Me In Manhattan tells the story of a young woman called Holly who, after falling for a stranger over the internet, is left in shock when she discovers who she was talking to isn't really who he said he was.
Claudia admits she's had her own fair share of bad online dating experiences.
"I wanted to call the book Don't Get Me Started, but the publishers didn't like that," she says. "I'll admit I've done internet dating myself, but with no success - yet. But I'm trying to keep optimism over history. I've had some terrible experiences online."
When it comes to researching her books, the former Fair City star lives by the phrase "real life trumps fiction".
"My personal favourite is when I went on a site a few of my friends had recommended. I went on and soon enough I met someone who seemed nice and normal," she says.
"So he phoned and sounded nice, so we agreed to meet for coffee. We were texting each other about when to meet up, when he said he wasn't available at weekends.
"I thought to myself that that's not a very single person thing to say, and he went on to say he was only available Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 3.00pm.
"After I fished a bit, he quite openly admitted that he was married and he was a stay-at-home dad and these were the only times he was free to meet because his kids were in school."
As if that wasn't shocking enough, Claudia reveals she couldn't believe what he told when she said she wouldn't meet him.
"He basically got a bit snotty with me and told me that although I might have had a problem with his situation, plenty of other women didn't.
"I just thought to myself 'his poor wife'," she adds.
Claudia says that many people are wary about the 'Wild West' of online dating.
"I think we're very vulnerable when we're on these sites - we're exposing our personalities and our private lives to strangers," she says.
"When you're online, you just don't know - you really don't have a clue. I think our instinct is to trust and we want to see the best in people, which can be easily taken advantage of."
Despite being used to writing happy endings, the dating world is wearing thin on hopeless romantic Claudia, who admits she's "at the point of giving up" looking for her own Mr Right.
"I'm a long term single and I'm kind of at the point where I'm giving up - any guys my age want somebody 20 years younger than me, and anyone who is interested in people my age is my dad's age.
"Maybe it's the case that women bring too much when it comes to dating - you know what they say, when a woman meets a man for the first time she's thinking 'is he going to be good husband material'.
"The guy is looking at the woman across the table thinking 'I wonder is she going to sleep with me tonight'. That's the difference."
While she might be losing faith in love, Claudia still hopes to see one of her books make it to the big screen one day.
She's had three of her works optioned by Hollywood producers already - one for a Fox TV series and two others for movies - but admits it could be a long time before she'll be buying her evening dress for a big red carpet premiere.
"It's a great validation as a writer to get a book optioned," she said but added that getting the book on screen could "take as long as 20 years".
"I could be on my Zimmer frame before it ever makes it to the Savoy, so I won't hold my breath," she laughed.
Claudia Carroll's new book, Meet Me In Manhattan, is due to go on sale on March 26