1. I live in Galway on the west coast of Ireland. It's a small city with lots of character. A place of singers, poets, and actors; of short days, long nights and outrageous stories.
2. When I was ten or eleven I wrote a twenty-page story titled The Ants Who Grew Into Gi-ants. I thought the title was so clever. So clever that not long afterwards I decided to retire from writing.
3. I resumed writing shortly after I turned thirty. This decision was arrived at after several years of aimless drifting. And also after exhausting any lasting belief that I could do anything else.
4. My writing is a mix of darkness and light; of humour and pathos; it swings high and low. I tend not to plan or plot too much in advance. That way the writing leaves room for mystery, contradiction and discovery, which are elements contained in the kind of writing I most like to read myself.
A love of movies informs much of my writing. Old movies. Movies from all over the world. When I am unable to sleep I sit up and re-watch my favourites. Too many to mention here.
6. I like hiding inside my imagination. I daydream a lot. I believe in impossible things. I always remember reading Alice in Wonderland and in particular the scene where Alice encounters the Unicorn in the forest. 'I didn't know unicorns existed,' Alice tells the Unicorn. And the Unicorn says, 'I'll believe in you if you believe in me.' I have always thought there is something magical about this exchange.
7. I enjoy cycling around Galway's narrow streets. This can be tricky as my tendency to daydream means I very often come off second-best in encounters with large cars.
8. For a couple of years I did a stint as a travel writer. One time I was sent to the Austrian Alps to learn how to snowboard and write about the experience. My article consisted of descriptions of myself buried up to my eyeballs in packed snow. I didn't learn how to snowboard. I am no longer a travel writer.
9. At a recent radio interview the host allowed me choose one song to play. On my way to the studio I had recalled a song lyric I used as an early epigraph for my new novel. The lyric goes, 'I remember when I lost my mind, there was something so pleasant about that place.' It's from the song Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. This was the song I chose – the slow-tempo version. The radio host approved.
10. Sometimes people ask me for the name of my favourite song. My favourite book. My favourite film. Favourite place. My answers tend to change when asked this kind of question. Except when I am asked what are my favourite words. My favourite words are, Once Upon A Time...this never changes.