Brought up as the eldest of seven, Clár was always interested in words. Gaining a place on the Graduate Training Scheme run by Reuters, She worked in London, Madrid and Paris, where she met her future husband.
They moved to the Ivory Coast where she worked for Associated Press. She’s also lived in Senegal, and Nairobi, from where she travelled to Somalia, freelancing for The Guardian, to cover the African Union’s battle against Al-Shabaab.
“I’ve always written fiction, starting with poetry and short stories. I started the novel when I was on maternity leave with my first child. It went well until she learned to crawl!”
Who is Clár Ní Chonghaile.
Date of birth: 1972, in London, brought up in Ireland.
Education: Coláiste Chroi Mhuire. University College Galway, French and English.
Family: Husband David a journalist, daughters Lucy,11, and Rachel, 8.
The Day Job: Assistant editor of the Global Development Website, at the Guardian.
Interests: “I love films, and I enjoy a bit of running.”
Favourite Writers: Louisa May Alcott; Jane Austen; Emily Bronte; and more recently Margaret Atwood, William Boyd, Dave Eggers, and Khaled Hosseini; Anne Enright, and Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Second Novel: I’ve started one. It explores the issues of addiction and obsession, and is about a Rwandan living in Ireland, and his relationship with an Irish woman.
Top Tip: Let your imagination run riot; believe in your story, and do the graft.
The Debut: Fractured. Legend Press: €13.50. Kindle: €4.50.
The journalist Peter Maguire has been taken hostage in Mogidishu, imprisoned, and terrified. His only contact is Abdi, a teenager working for Peter’s captors.
Peter ponders his complicated life, realising his relationship in Paris is doomed to failure. If he lives, should he contact the son he fathered after a brief affair in Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, Peter’s mother, Nina, a retired war reporter with problems of her own, travels to Somalia to try and save her son, and mend their fractured relationship.
“I’m fascinated by circumstance and the choices we make. We think we are free, but when you travel and meet people with different lives, it makes you realise how similar we all are. I wanted to explore those ideas of choice and freedom.”
The Verdict: An important book for our troubled times.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 30th January, 2016
© Sue Leonard. 2016