“It’s not easy, you give up a lot” – RTÉ’s Sinéad Crowley on novel writing and double jobs


As Covid struck, RTÉ’s arts and media correspondent Sinéad Crowley jerked off her regular rhythm and began reporting live from what would become Ireland’s most famous conference room.

At the end of a long day listening to HSE and Nphet officials, the journalist and author took refuge in the books of Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Dorothy Macardle.

“At that time, work was all consuming and Covid was all consuming, so I started reading a lot of escapist fiction at night,” she said. “I think we saw and read all the things that took us away from the day.”

She began writing what would become her fourth novel, The Belladonna Mazein the middle of the pandemic.

The mystery thriller has a double narrative – one plot focuses on a young nanny and is set in 2007, while the other is set in the 19th century around the time of the famine.

A nice estate or large house serves as the focal point for the plot.

“There’s a tradition of novels set around great English houses, so I thought of taking the great house book and putting it in an Irish setting,” Crowley said. The result is a historical ghost story.

It’s impressive that the author managed to find the time to write the book as she seemed to be on the news every other night updating us on the ever changing Covid guidelines. She has also been busy homeschooling her two children.

“I write in very short bursts,” she said. “I don’t have very much time, I don’t have the luxury of a whole weekend or downtime or whatever.”

Working in the newsroom has given her the ability to meet deadlines.

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“If you give me an hour, I’ll definitely make it,” she said. “I write in the car when the kids are playing sports. I know I can be disciplined for this hour. Even if I had one of these magical retreats, I’m not sure I would create more. I have developed a very focused approach.

“It’s not easy, you have to love it. There must be a compulsion to write because you give up a lot. I always say you do it instead of anything else, you write instead of watching Netflix or going to the gym.”

Crowley has been a writer all her life and before signing a publishing deal she had already produced two novels. “Even if I never got published, I would still write,” she says.

Despite her literary success, she has no desire to quit her job at RTÉ. In fact, she said many of her ideas come from press conferences, interviews, and reports.

The concept behind it The Belladonna Maze came to her while interviewing families who were putting on concerts and festivals in Irish mansions and country estates.

“RTÉ and the job give me ideas,” she said. “I often wonder what I would come up with if I just worked from home. It takes you to all those incredible stories and ignites those ideas. Having all these experiences is really important for someone who writes novels.”

The Belladonna Maze is out today.

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/its-not-easy-youre-giving-up-a-lot-rtes-sinead-crowley-on-writing-novels-and-double-jobbing-41615726.html “It’s not easy, you give up a lot” – RTÉ’s Sinéad Crowley on novel writing and double jobs

Fry Electronics Team

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