By The Book: Irish Author Christine Anne Foley Gets Real With Debut Novel, Bodies

"My new book 'Bodies' is all about the female experience."

Ireland has such a rich history with incredibly talented authors.

Now Christine Anne Foley will wade into the talent pool with her debut novel, Bodies. The Kilkenny woman has been tipped as one of Ireland’s most promising authors in recent years. After reading her subversive and dark book, we can see why.

It’s a dark novel, so it makes sense that she starts her writing regime with meditation. It also makes sense that this book came forward from her brilliant mind…

Hi Christine! Tell us about your debut novel, Bodies.

Hi there, I’m great thanks. My new book ‘Bodies’ is all about the female experience. The book follows Charlotte’s relationships with men throughout her life, from her early teens to her early thirties. The book explores themes like gaslighting, love bombing and cheating, themes I feel a large female readership will relate to. It’s also about what is done to women’s bodies and the lasting impact of trauma. It’s a novel filled with rage and anger, but it is also a novel that explores vulnerability and how in a world where women are treated like objects, there is still a tenderness to our experiences.  

What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to write?

Ideally, if I have time, I like to set up a nice space for myself, lighting incense or a candle. Then I do a guided creative meditation, something to ground me and allow me to focus, then I open my notebook and try to connect with what I’m feeling that day and see how it relates to my characters. However, between deadlines and inspiration coming out of nowhere, this isn’t always feasible, and I often find myself scribbling away on the nearest piece of paper, be it the back of a receipt or an envelope. It’s all or nothing with me, perfection, or chaos. 

What is that childhood book that you still think about to this day?

I was a big Meg Cabot fan so ‘The Princess Diaries’ will always stand out in my memory. I’ll always remember Mia describing her first love, Michael, and how he had a wonderful smelling neck. I genuinely thought this was going to be my experience too but unfortunately, not all necks smell equal!

Who are three authors that inspire you?

Anne Enright is and always will be The GOAT. Paul Murray comes in a very, very close second and Megan Nolan is just an absolute inspiration. 

What’s a book that you’ll never forget?

Ocean Vuong’s ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ is a book that will always stay with me. The book is the coming-of-age story of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. The book is filled with passion and tenderness alongside vicious brutality and war trauma. It is a story of personal discovery and sexual awakening, and it is truly beautiful. 

Who is the favourite character you’ve written?

I’d have to say Charlotte, the protagonist of ‘Bodies’. I feel like we have gone through so much together. Writing ‘Bodies’ was a cathartic experience for me, one that allowed me to release all the negative energy from my past toxic relationships and I couldn’t have done that without Charlotte, she’s become not just a character but a very close friend. 

If you could go into a book universe, which would it be?

I’d love to go into the library of Matt Haig’s ‘The Midnight Library’. Firstly, to be surrounded by such a glorious collection of books would be incredible but then to be able to pick a book which shows you how life would have gone if you’d done something differently, well that would just be unreal. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you don’t read, you won’t be able to write. 

Is there a book you wish you could read again for the first time?

‘Trainspotting’, for sure! It hits so hard the first time you read it. That has not stopped me from reading it multiple times, however. 

Forget dinner party guests, what are the three books that define you?

Belinda McKeown’s ‘Tender.’ Roddy Doyle’s ‘Love’. Robert McLiam Wilson’s ‘Eureka Street’. And I’d love to have all three authors as party guests too if you could arrange it? 

What is your most prized possession – book-wise or otherwise?

Oh, that’s a difficult one but I think I’d have to say my oldest soft toy, Sparkle. She has her own place in the family at this stage and has been by my side since day one. She still sleeps in my childhood bedroom, and I get to see her quite often. The other would have to be a beautiful collage made for me by Jennifer Humphreys who I mentored as part of the Connection Arts Programme, it’s a beautiful piece of art and holds a very special place in my heart. 

Do you read reviews?

I’ve received some lovely, advanced reader reviews of ‘Bodies’ and that has been really uplifting. I am of course aware that all reviews of the book will not be like this and I’m happy to take criticism with a pinch of salt. Constructive criticism can be helpful but I’m very proud of the work and just happy to have it out in the world. 

What is your favourite genre to read? Is it the same one you write?

I love literary fiction, particularly by Irish writers so yes, I guess it is the same. I also enjoy the odd Thriller!

Where do you get your inspiration?

From reading widely. It’s the most important part of my job. I must read daily. I also tend to draw a lot from my own experiences, but I need to have distance from them. I’ve generally written about 70% of any story in my head before I put pen to paper, it’s just there, marinating. But if I had to pick one place to go to get material, I’d pick any form of public transport. That’s where you meet interesting people living their full lives. I love it!

Bodies by Christine Anne Foley hits bookshops nationwide on May 23rd