Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Interview

My next guest on my blog is a lady who is so talented, I wouldn't know where to start. I had the pleasure of knowing Patricia when I lived in Dublin. I attended a creative writing course that Patricia was giving in Dundrum, Dublin and I remember the group did not want the course to end, in fact we went back for three terms. On July 3rd, Patricia launched her new book, The Interview. Read on to find out more and enjoy an excerpt of this excellent book.

Patricia O’Reilly comes to writing books via the route of freelance journalism and radio documentaries and plays. She has long been fascinated by Eileen Gray, who is the subject of many of her literary works. Her previous novels, also inspired by real life, include A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton (long listed
for Historical Novel Society Award 2012) and Time and Destiny.
In addition to fiction writing, Patricia is a highly regarded creative writing tutor at UCD and elsewhere. She lives in Dublin.

So what is this book, The Interview about?

Paris, 1972. Eileen Gray’s Destiny Screen sells at auction for the highest price ever paid for a ‘modern’ antique. After living reclusively for decades, the spotlight of the international media is trained on her. She is adamant. She will not be interviewed. 

Bruce Chatwin, rising star of Fleet Street and recently appointed to The Sunday Times magazine, charms his way into an interview. During the course of their conversation they recognise parallels between their lives and a connection between their souls.

The interview is never published. Chatwin dies in 1989, taking the secrets of what transpired between them to his grave. In The Interview, Patricia O’Reilly imagines what took place between these two fascinating and enigmatic characters.

Now for a taste of this wonderful novel.
Excerpt:  The Interview - Chapter 16
This is about Eileen Gray’s relationship with Marie-Louise Damien, the daughter of a gendarme and the nightclub singer who took Paris by storm during World War I

In the morning Eileen and Damia rose as late as Eileen could bear, but not before loving and laughing in the rumple of sheets and tangle of pillows, Damia wrestling Eileen until she had her enveloped in her strong white arms, refusing to allow her to go to her workroom. Damia hated mornings and by keeping her eyes shut and the shutters closed over she would pretend it was still night. She only came alive after noon and did not function until she had drunk several extra-strong bowls of coffee. Eileen on the other hand was a dawn riser, and she did her best work either in the early hours of the morning or late at night. As a couple their circadian rhythms couldn’t be more incompatible. They were mismatched in other ways too – more incompatible than compatible – although Eileen determinedly centred on their harmony.
With Damia’s cheetah on a leash, they’d wander along the rue de Faubourg Saint Honoré, stopping off at some fashionable café for coffee. Initially Eileen was embarrassed by the attention they received, and, with bent head, she would retreat into the background. As she was invariably holding the cheetah, she had little chance of remaining anonymous or of distancing herself from Damia’s celebrity status. Damia was so animated and extrovert that it was difficult not to be caught up in her enthusiasm as she dispensed joyous smiles and warm handshakes, assuring everyone within earshot how happy she was to have the opportunity of meeting her public during daylight hours.  
Sometimes of an afternoon – when it seemed the sun always shone from a blameless blue sky – they’d drive up and down the Avenue Champs-Élysées with the cheetah stretched across the back seat of the motor and Damia sitting in front with Eileen. With the fringed tail of her scarf flying in the soft breeze and her hand resting on Eileen’s knee. she would sing loudly and teasingly and over-dramatically ‘Tu ne Sais pas Aimer’, and Eileen would smile her secret smile and pretend not to notice.
The avenue was Eileen’s favourite street. She loved its exclusive shops, polite bustle and the lines of clipped horse-chestnut trees along its pavements, and she was intrigued by the source of its name: Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed, according to Greek mythology – ‘La plus belle avenue du monde’ – for her it truly was the most beautiful avenue in the world.
Melting with desire, Eileen tried valiantly to meet her lover’s needs by turning away from her drawing board and sitting for endless hours in endless nightclubs. Commissioning the delightful Paul Poiret, who was the toast of stylish Parisian women, to create brocade outfits suitable for nightlife gaiety, she entered as fully as she could into the spontaneous, crazy escapades that invigorated Damia and drove her act to new heights of passion. Such behaviour was anathema to Eileen. Despite the impulsiveness of her creativity, she was happiest with an orderly life – with punctuality, regular meals and appointments carefully entered in her diary.”
The Interview published by New Island Books is available in all good bookshops;
 from Amazon books

I would like to thank Patricia for visiting today and also to thank her for all the encouragement I received when attending her writing course many years ago. 


  1. What can I say? Except thank you, Mary

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