I follow Louise on Instagram, her pictures of cakes and desserts made me feel so totally inadequate, I was delighted to realise that she was a professional chef with 30 years of experience ... until I then realised that she was a professional chef with 30 years of experience, who had raised two children, started writing at 47 and produced incredible work!
It is almost impossible to believe that 2022’s ‘Trespasses’ is her first novel, following on from her collection of short stories ‘The End of the World is a Cul de Sac’ in 2021. Her work is tight, finely crafted, there is a maturity and depth, soul and unflinching honesty, that underscores the idea that some writers are born and not made. That is in no way to take away from her skill with language or structure or imagery, in this regard her work is almost flawless; but rather to emphasise that the level of sophistication with which she writes, suggests a writer in their prime, with a huge back catalogue.
Nominations and awards have followed both books and they are rightly deserved, her work rate both in writing, but also in the gruelling support that selling books demands now is phenomenal. I don’t know when she will actually get the time to write, but I can’t wait for her next book!
"[A] dazzling, heart breaking debut collection . . .With their sensitivity to people’s vulnerabilities and failings, and their sharpness of imagery, these fifteen taut tales recall Annie Proulx at her best: salty, wise, droll and keen to share the lessons of a lifetime." – Guardian
"Gritty, bitter, hard-won, the fifteen stories in this first collection feel a world away from the seeming solipsism of the younger generation of female Irish writers who are conquering the literary world ... Kennedy’s voice, and her unforgiving gaze, are electric." – Sunday Times
“Brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking.”—J.Courtney Sullivan, New York Times Book Review
What is the first book you bought yourself?
I am tempted to lie here, but I won’t. My mother kept me well supplied with books and I was a regular library user, so I was relatively old. It was a copy of Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews, purchased on a school trip to the Isle of Man when I was 14. A truly appalling tale of a brother and sister who are locked in an attic by their mother and then fall in love. I was saved from a lifetime of reading similar drivel by the appearance, a few months later, of a new neighbour. She gave me a copy of Joan Didion’s The White Album and nothing was the same after that.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
There was no younger writing self as I began at 47. I have no regrets about the late start. In my twenties I would have been too self-conscious, in my thirties I was having babies, in my early forties I had a restaurant and was so busy I can hardly remember anything.
Did publishing your first book change your writing process?
My process has changed for a couple of reasons. I am on a lot of medication which makes me slow in the mornings so I don’t get up at five am anymore. I miss that. And having a book in the world means doing a lot of stuff that is not writing, such as doing events and talking to journalists. So I guess the answer is yes.
What were you most wrong about when you imagined being a writer?
I still struggle with calling myself a writer and only really do so in public. I consider myself a person who writes. Maybe I am more comfortable with doing than being.
Which 3 books do you think everyone should read?
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, Beloved by Toni Morrison, In the Forest by Edna O’Brien.
Do you have a favourite book to gift and if so, what is it?
I love giving a copy of Little Women to a little girl. (Never Good Wives: I wouldn’t want to freak her out.)
What song always gets you on the dance floor?
Teardrops by Womack and Womack
Tea or Coffee?
Tea! Coffee is muck. I guzzle Barry’s Gold Blend till four then switch to Barry’s Decaf for the night.
Do you Google yourself?
The only respectable answer to this is no.
Why do you love Chapters?!
I love the very democratic mix of new and secondhand, the lovely staff, and the light from those mahoosive windows at the front.