Hilary worked in a lot of menial jobs and as a classroom assistant before she discovered that it was possible to have a career in writing. First she worked in theatre.
“I trained at the Oscar Theatre school at weekends, run by actors. A group of us set up our own theatre and choreographed our own work. I did ok as an actor, working in the Abbey and the Peacock, then I went to London, waitressing, and did a playwriting course. I wrote my first play, Mackerel Sky, very quickly because I was pregnant. It was on at the Bush Theatre. After that, I kept on writing plays.”
Hilary wrote the TV column in The Irish Times for ten years, and now has her own column. She started writing Hopscotch last Christmas, and had completed the final edits by August. “I had a play on with Rough Magic during that time too. It was really tight.
“Once I opened the door into my feelings, I remembered everything. I’ve been telling and retelling stories connected to my childhood for a long time. The memoir gave me permission to write it all.”
Who is Hilary Fannin
Date of birth: 1962 in Dublin.
Education: Dominican Convent, St Sabina in Sutton. Left 1979, with Leaving Certificate.
Home: Sutton, Dublin.
Family: Giles Newington, production journalist. Sons, Peter 19, Jake 14.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
Interests: I go to the gym and walk a lot.
Favourite Writers: Influences include Noel Streatfield, Anne Enright, Edna O’Brien, Eugene O’Neill, Joni Mitchell, and Philip Roth.
Second Novel: “I have 45,000 words of a novel written. I’ll have to re-imagine it.”
Top Tip: “Just sit down and write, even if you only manage half an hour a day. At remember, words are not limbs. If they’re not working, get rid of them.”
The Debut: Hopscotch. Doubleday Ireland: €18.42 Kindle: €12.79.
Aged four, Hilary Fannin is negotiating the early days of school. The afterthought, or ‘mistake,’ she observes her elder sisters and brother, and feels the tension in the house, as rows escalate and unpaid bills mount. She loves the weekend exploits with her father, accepting that there are things that must never be told.
The Verdict: Pitch perfect. Natural, sweet, and heartrending.
Published in The Irish Examiner, 19th December 2015
© Sue Leonard. 2015.