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Why we love Claudia

Claudia Carroll’s new novel,

Carroll is hilarious, and not in the least bit bothered by the designation chick lit’, although she says she “prefers the term commercial fiction’. A lovely author pal of mine says the only label you ever need to worry about is sh*te!’”

Were you a big reader as a child?

Are you kidding? I’d have read anything as a child, the back of a Cornflakes box included. Comics featured strongly in our house and I actually came across a stack of my old Mandy and Bunty comics recently.

Re-reading them, I was astonished at the number of heroines who fought crime while in their bras and shorts.

Was it always your ambition to be an author?

I’d wanted to write for as long as I can remember. But I have to stress, never with any thought of publication. To me, book deals were always things that happened to other people.

I’d been scribbling down stories and embarrassingly rough drafts for novels. But then like a lot of people, I’d just shove what I’d written into the back of a drawer and vowed not to mortify myself by even talking about it.

It took me a very long time to get brave and actually put a book out there.

Has your experience as an actress informed your ability to write fiction?

I worked on

Do you feel that the romance genre is on its last legs, or that there’s room for continued growth?

For all the negativity you hear, I think it’s in good health. You only have to look at the success both here and abroad of authors such as Sheila O’Flanagan, Patricia Scanlan, Cathy Kelly and Marian Keyes to see that.

I do think the commercial fiction market is constantly evolving. There’s a whole new strand developing now: literary commercial fiction. The wonderful Jojo Moyes is a great example of that.

Her books manage to be accessible, funny and deeply moving all at the same time.

Any advice for readers who may be aspiring to write?

Persevere, persevere, persevere! And write every single day, as every day that you do is a day that your work is improving, trust me. An agent really is your best friend, and I’d advise anyone starting out to secure an agent first and the rest will follow. And enjoy!

Speaking of romantic fiction…

Shadow Spell

by Nora Roberts
Piatkus (2014) €20 *

The second book in one of Roberts’ famous trilogies, this is a massive disappointment. Set in Ireland, the descendants of an ancient witchy bloodline are faced with eradicating the evil that has dogged their family for centuries.

Roberts’ grasp of Irish slang is so out of date as to be centuries old itself; the pace and characterisations are equally lazy. A real low for the author.

Three Weeks With Lady X

by Eloise James
Piatkus (2014) €11.50 *****

I normally wouldn’t bump up publishers, but it just goes to show that the quality of an author often has nothing to do with who is facilitating her work.

This is terrific, with sexy, witty protagonists who eventually get there in the end.

It’s set in the Regency period in England, so if you are into costume dramas, you will be in heaven.

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green
Penguin (2013) €9.99 ***

Hype-licious! This is about to be A Major Motion Picture, and may be an example of a man’s ability to write lovely romance — which has happened throughout history, sure, but one wonders where are all the excellent movies of books like this, that are written by women.

Girl meets boy in a cancer support group; not much plot ensues as we know the ending. Heartstrings are yanked within an inch of their lives. It’s only okay.