Thursday, 4 July 2013

Aoife Brennan's "The Cougar Diaries"

Today I'd like welcome Aoife Brennan, author of "The Cougar Diaries" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, intro please!!


I started off writing a non-fiction book about divorce which suddenly segued into fiction – so I took all I knew about dating again and fictionalised it. What a hoot! I am the author of my own destiny now – I am writing the ending. So I can lead my main character through the valley of death, despair and trouble, but I am giving her a fabulous ending! Oh the power of the pen!
So, when possessions depart – and bravery enters by the main door – then it is time to write!
My first book, The Cougar Diaries Part I, is available now on Amazon, with Part II available this summer, and Part III coming out this Autumn.

Ok - lets go!

No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
In a heart beat and for two reasons. The first is the straight forward unconditional love for a loved one, especially a child. I am not saying I would wish to break a law that might hurt someone else, but if breaking and not breaking the law was the difference between saving my loved one or not, then I do it first and ask forgiveness later – or indeed serve jail time later.
The second is that we live in very uncertain times where democracy is being eroded at every corner. As our society, in the western world in general and in Ireland in particular, is moving towards increased polarisation, I see the vulnerable, the minorities and indeed women all becoming second class citizens. There are many laws being brought into being that are quite simply not fit for purpose. If I could combine saving a loved one with breaking a bad law, then I would be happy to oblige. This might sound melodramatic but consider that Savita Halappanavar lost her life because of unfit laws. Would that her husband could reverse time and opt for this path, there are few who would deny him this act of violation.

No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
I had many answers to this question but in the end of the day there are two expressions which sum up the difference quite eloquently. The first is the Latin expression Carpe Diem which confers respectability on the notion of grabbing the day by the scruff of the neck and shaking the guts out it. The second is the much more prosaic acronym YOLO – you only live once. But if I may add in a third note, a quote from Hunter S Thompson, this is the way I want to live – and die! "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

No.3 What motivates you to write?
I am consumed by writing. I cannot help myself. Before, as a part time writer, I had moments of energy and inspiration, but I was too successful in my job and I had too much money. I did not have the need to write. But poverty and writing make good bed fellows. It is not that I am writing to make money, although that is a requirement too, but I now I am incapable of not writing.

As I progress in this path as a full time writer, I find that every conversation and every thought is filed away in my head for future possible distillation onto paper. I have this annoying habit of saying to my friends that certain conversations may be taken in evidence and used in future writing. I am sure I will drop this dilatory quirk soon as I realise that every word spoken, every feeling felt and every action witnessed is all fair game to my future writing. To be honest all historic interactions are subject to the same possible treatment, it was just before I was not aware that as a writer I may and might use them at some stage. That is one of the most thrilling realisations of finally succumbing to the job title of author – I must record and I will.

No.4 Why do humans want children?
Immortality :)

No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "The Cougar Diaries, Part I" ?
The challenge is not in creating my book, the challenge is in persuading rational, sane people that they might want to read it!

No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
That courage will carry you further than talent, money or luck.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "The Cougar Diaries" ?
Ah, I pandered to the lowest common denominator. I had just finished reading Bleak House and wanted to use the dying line from a main character. He was beginning the world, but not this world, oh no, the world that sets this world right. I wanted to call my beautiful book, I Begin the World for there is hope at the heart of my novel. However, sadly, another author had already appropriated that title for a religious book and then on a girls’ night out I straw polled good friends with the Cougar title. They all, naturally in hindsight, preferred the Cougar title. I settled for good sense. There is no point in having a witty, funny and sexy book if no one will buy it or read it. I hope my title may attract interest but afterwards produce feelings of warmth. A book undersold if you like may produce greater happiness than an overhyped one. So far, so good!

No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
As an online journalist and broadcaster in my real job I have faced some very serious trolls. At first it was hard but after a bit I learnt to only listen to people that I respect. I am not saying that only trolls criticise my work, but I hope I have the ability to differentiate between trouble makers and quality makers. Also, I have teenage kids. I say no more!

No.9 Why should people read your book?
I hope they might be entertained by the story, laugh at bits, smile at others and perhaps yes feel a little bit titillated by the sex scenes. In addition, I hope that after they experience these emotions they might also have a real feeling for what it is like for a woman in her forties to date again in the post Celtic Tiger Ireland – especially by the end of book three.

No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Nature abhors a vacuum and would sooner fill it with something; a star, a cosmos or maybe a fiery sun. Paper never refuses ink, whether it be a polemic, a satire or a love billet. And writers cannot leave well enough alone: they have to fill the nothing with something - a haiku, a novella or a mighty epic. Words come tumbling out, fill the nothing, get half crossed out, reinstated and finally, tremblingly, the writer stops and the nothing is something.

That is why.
Thanks Aoife for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book!

Check out her new book "The Cougar Diaries" on


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