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Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght

Sarah Breen and Emer Mclysaght. Photo credit Al Higgins

Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are the fabulous writing duo behind the hilarious, Irish novel called ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling. The Novel’. A book that all women can relate to, at some stage in their lives.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Sarah: Emer and I met studying media in Dublin. We hit it off immediately – I thought she was hilarious from day one – and we started hanging out whenever we could and eventually moved in together. Emer went on to work in radio journalism and I got into magazines so our professional lives never really overlapped, although we always dreamed of working together one day. In 2016 an Irish publishing company approached us about writing a book together and we decided to go for it.

    Emer: Having both worked in Irish media, writing for Irish women, we felt like we would be able to have a go at writing a novel. It’s the kind of thing you dream about when you’re growing up and your favourite subject in school is English and you’re devouring a few books a week.

  2. What made you come up with the concept for the ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling’?
    We came up with the character of Aisling one day during a conversation about mascara – we decided whoever keeps the brown mascara industry going is also the person who hangs up signs in the office kitchen begging people to put their mugs in the dishwasher (always typed in comic sans!). She’s that friend who writes “suits you” under pictures of women holding babies on Facebook and knows the Weight Watchers Points in absolutely everything. Our friends soon got into it so Emer made a Facebook page, called Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling, where we could all share our “Aislingisms”. It gained a cult following and now has more than 50,000 members. The novel is based on what happens when Aisling gets sick of waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question.
  3. How do you find it, writing as an duo?
    Sarah: We couldn’t imagine writing any other way! Because we know Aisling so well, and know how she’d react in any situation, it’s easy for me to continue Emer’s thoughts and vice versa. We usually decide what needs to happen in the next few chapters and just go away and fill in the blanks. I’m always HOOTING at Emer’s work.

    Emer: And I’m always in bits at Sarah’s work. I think we compliment each other in our writing. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling has a mixture of both very funny and very sad moments, and somehow between us we’ve managed to strike the balance just right. It’s like we were always meant to write this book together!

  4. Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling

  5. You have quite a following on your Facebook page, which provides entertainment, solutions and current affairs, how have you found the response to the page?
    We are incredibly proud of the OMGWACA group. It’s crazy to think that what started out as an in-joke about Aisling 10 years ago is now this warm, inclusive community that’s spawned so many real life friendships. It’s really only a matter of time ‘til we have our first OMGWACA wedding!
  6. As pointed out in the book, we all have a bit of an Aisling in ourselves. What defines you as an complete Aisling?
    Sarah: I reckon I’m about 40% Aisling – I religiously collect Boots points, I would never get off the bus without thanking the driver and nothing makes me happier than drying clothes outside on the line (the amount of electricity the dryer uses is shocking!). I think Emer is a bit more Aisling than me – I’ve seen her bring earplugs to a music festival and she will insist on queuing for a flight the minute the gate opens.

    Emer: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a good night’s sleep at a festival, or an airbed, or a lock for your tent! I would agree that I’m more of an Aisling, maybe 50%. It’s true that I don’t feel at ease until I’m safely in my plane seat and my carry on is safely stowed. I also indicate religiously on roundabouts and would be evangelical about the difference between tea towels and hand towels.

  7. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Sarah: Anything by Marian Keyes – ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ is a favourite of both mine and Emer. The entire works of Adrian Mole – he was SUCH an Aisling. And some kind of survival manual – I’d need to be able to distil my own gin or else I’d just walk into the sea.

    Emer: I hope that Sarah would let me borrow her ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ and her Adrian Mole. I’d also bring the collected tales of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, it was a real childhood favourite. And while we’re at it, a couple of my old Paula Danziger books. I think that reading funny women like her when I was younger really influenced my writing.

  8. Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
    Sarah: Bridget Jones – I love how funny, real and relatable she is. That Aisling has been compared to her is incredibly flattering.

    Emer: Sarah beat me to it with Bridget. I’d also have to mention Adrian Mole again, he’s just the perfect amount of hero with a dash of ridiculousness.

  9. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Sarah: “The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.” It’s from ‘Lullaby’ by Leila Slimani. How could you not want to read on?!

    Emer: “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium”, from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I just feel like it’s so loaded. It already gives away so much.

  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    It sounds like a no-brainer, but write the book you’d like to read. If psychological thrillers are your bag, hone your detective skills. Not every book has to be a work of literary genius. Just start writing!
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Sarah: Food. I like to reward myself after every paragraph.

    Emer: I write at a laptop but always have a good old pen and paper beside me for making notes to come back to. It might just be one scribbled word but it will be enough.

  12. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    We are currently writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of Oh My God What a Complete Aisling’, which has been such a joy. We are also putting the finishi’ng touches on the sequel, which is due out in September.

You can follow the ladies on Twitter Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght for updates. And don’t forget to check out the amazing ‘Oh My God What a Complete Aisling’ Facebook page, which started this whole adventure

You can buy Oh My God What a Complete Aisling from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Million Love Songs Book Tour Playlist

Record Player

On the book tour for Carole Matthews’ delicious new book called ‘Million Love Songs’, I bring you the Spotify playlist that Carole listened to whilst writing the book.

‘Million Love Songs’ is about a young woman called Ruby Brown who finds herself suddenly single for the first time in years. She’s ready to dive into the single world of footloose and fancyfree but it seems that fate has something else in store, as two handsome men catch her eye.

Featuring 21 of the greatest love songs of all time, from the tones of Elvis Presley’s ‘Always On My Mind’ to the quirky ‘Friday I’m In Love’by The Cure, there’s something from everyone to cuddle up to.

Check out the playlist here called Carole Matthews Love Songs

Million Love Songs

When it comes to love songs for me, my top five are:

‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits – I always loved the conversational tone of this song and it appears in one of my favourite movies, ‘Empire Records’.
‘She Will Be Loved’ by Mauroon 5 – A sweet song about unattainable love.
‘It Must Have Been Love’ by Roxette – Another great song from the brilliant ‘Pretty Woman’ film about a brief love affair.
‘I Love You Always Forever’ by Donna Lewis – This song was released in 1996 and it’s one song I always turn the radio up to, this song never gets old!
‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepson – A feel good love song that gets everyone up and dancing!

I’m currently reading ‘Million Love Songs’ and I’m already loving joining Ruby Brown on her singleton journey. Stay tuned, my review will be coming soon!

You can buy Million Love Songs from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sue Moorcroft Reveals New Book – The Little Village Christmas

The Little Village ChristmasAfter the success of her previous Christmas book, ‘The Christmas Promise’, Sue Moorcroft is back with a new book called ‘The Little Village Christmas’.

What the back cover says –

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

You can pre-order The Little Village Christmas from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 2nd November 2017.

The Arrangement By Sonya Lalli

The Arrangement‘The Arrangement’ is the latest book by Sonya Lalli.

When you’re approaching thirty it’s normal (if not incredibly annoying) for your family to ask when you’ll tie the knot and settle down. But for Raina there’s a whole community waiting for someone to make her a wife – and a loving grandmother, Nani, ready to play matchmaker with a comprehensive list of potential husbands.Eager not to disappoint her family, Raina goes along with the plan but when the love of her life returns – ex-boyfriend Dev – she’s forced to confront her true feelings. Now her ‘clock is ticking’, it’s time for Raina to decide what she actually wants.

In this book, even though it is set in the 21st century, this modern tale featuring a strong, independent woman focuses on the pressure of a young Indian woman bordering on her 30th birthday and the immense pressure to find the perfect man and become a married woman to be fully accepted in society.

Raina is a fun and outspoken woman, brought up by her grandmother Nani, her upbringing was far from conservative with a wild and underage mother, who was rarely around. Raina’s grandmother brought her up, even she was never short of love and attention, Raina always felt stifled.

As she nears closer to her 30th birthday and her best friend prepares to get married, Raina is constantly reminded about getting married and finds herself beginning to buckle under the immense pressure from her grandmother. Even though, Nani only has her best interests at heart, her pressure for Raina to settle down is stifling, with lists of potential suitors and registering her on dating websites is making Raina go insane but with the reappearance of her ex Dev, Raina is finding it even harder to concentrate on her new potential partners.

With its bright and vibrant cover, ‘The Arrangement’ is a fun and insightful story from the very start. Highlighting the pressures of society that are inflicted on women from an early age to get married and have children, Sonya also writes frankly and with humour about the stress of being a young Indian woman, trying to be happy as well as be traditional in the 21st century.

You can buy The Arrangement from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Break By Marian Keyes

The Break‘The Break’ is the delicious new book by Marian Keyes.

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet. However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge. For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?

Marian Keyes is back with another fabulous book, a book that made me lose track of time as well as let numerous cups of go to waste and go cold.

In her latest book, we meet Amy, a deliciously kind and outspoken woman who works in PR, mother to three daughters, her life is rarely a routine and when her husband Hugh announces that he wants to take a six month break to travel the world to help him through his grieving process after losing his father. Amy’s reaction and mine was WTF?

As Hugh travels the world, Amy is left with the worry that he’ll cheat on her, leave her for a younger model, never return and this will be the end of their marriage.

But whilst Hugh is discovering himself, Amy is also finding a new appetite for life. She’s refusing to accept pity from her neighbours and give up on her marriage, even though her heart is breaking.

Amy is also on her own path of self discovery, embarking on new affairs, tackling with being a single parent and being the mother of a successful video blogger with an attitude.

I absolutely adored this book. The book is filled with Marian’s charm and wit as well her warmth. The characters are similar to the Walsh family, their dysfunctional, outspoken and there is never a dull moment, with their larger than life mother and a father who battles Alzheimers. In her light hearted tale, Marian delivers a story that has serious issues, Alzheimer’s and the effect it can have on a family, the pressure and stress. Teenage pregnancy and the legality of abortion in Ireland plus the surge of video blogging and how anyone can do it, no matter the age.

Amy is a fabulous character and one that I could never tire of reading. As the story progresses, Amy becomes a stronger and more confident woman and this is a joy to witness. Hugh was a different story altogether, I wholeheartedly hated him and the rage he invoked in me was astounding. His selfishness to find himself whilst Amy was left to look after the family and deal with the sympathy and the gossip that he left behind, it enraged me!

The characters are engaging and all have their own quirks that made for such enjoyable reading plus all the chapters are short, so one chapter can rapidly become seven or ten.

Deliciously fun and warmhearted, this book is an enchanting story that was impossible to put down, filled with charm, drama and plenty of Irish wit, ‘The Break’ is most certainly Marian Keyes at her very best. I dare you not to enjoy it!

You can pre-order The Break from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 7th September.