Julia Kelly – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Julia Kelly, author of The Playground, to the blog. Julia kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about the Playground

It’s a novel about a single mother trying to protect her child in a world populated by people who are parents when they haven’t quite grown up themselves. 

2. Where did the inspiration come from for the book? 

The idea came to me during a tearful conversation with my agent. I was in my sitting room looking out the window at the playground across the road listening to all the reasons why she felt a draft novel I’d submitted wasn’t working. She asked if I had any other ideas and, needing to say something, I said I could always write about the Playground (God knows I’d spent enough time there since I’d had my little girl). She loved the idea, as did my publisher, and I got down to work straight away. 

3. What is the best and the worst thing about being a writer?

The best and the worst for me are being my own boss. While I love the freedom and independence of working for myself, writing requires discipline, focus and organisation – none of which are innate skills but the pressure of deadlines and financial commitments help to keep me at my desk.  

4. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I’m a combination of both. I write a first draft without having any formal structure or clear idea of what shape it will take. When this is complete I will then map out a plot and narrative arc using index cards and a cork board. I have tried to begin the other way around but I find it too dull and uninspiring. I like to get all my ideas out unedited first and then put a shape on them.  

5. How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I write very slowly; my first novel took three years, my second, four. But I want to become more prolific and am aiming to have a first draft of my third ready by this Christmas.  

6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I live in a beautiful coastal village outside Dublin and love walking in the hills and along the beaches with our dog, friends and my daughter. And a deep bubble bath with a great novel and a large glass of wine is bliss for me. I also love Italy, Italians, driving around the Irish countryside, running, reading, going to the movies. 

7. Who would you invite to your fantasy literary dinner party?

Bill Bryson, Alan Hollinghurst, Jonathan Franzen, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Zoe Heller and Dorothy Parker, if she were still alive. 

8. I like to end my Q & A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Can you tell me seven random facts about you: 

1) I once took a large bite out of the passenger seat of my aunt’s car (I had quite a taste for leather and rubber when I was twelve). It went down very well. Though not so much with my aunt. 

2) Bank holidays depress me. I hate being put under pressure to have lots of fun plans.

3) The words ‘moist’ ‘more-ish’ ‘panties’ and ‘awesome’ among others make me squirm. It even hurts to write them down. 

4)  I’ve always wanted to be a farmer’s wife though I am vegetarian, cry if I’m woken earlier than seven and love, but am nervous of, nearly all animals so it may not have been a happy marriage. 

5) I like Dunnes Stores but I hate their vomit-coloured carrier bags. 

6) And I truly hate when people tell me I look tired/shattered/knackered/worn out/f**ked. I know I do. Pointing it out is not sympathetic, empathetic, helpful or kind. It just makes me feel like going back to bed. 

7) I have the world’s scariest knees. But that’s nothing new.   

About the book

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“A funny and moving novel about a single mother finding her independence.

Eve is starting again.

Newly single, unemployed and with a baby daughter, she joins the local mums trying to make their nearby playground the heart of the community. But not all games are innocent – and not all friends are true. When the rules change, Eve must forge her own independence – and realise that the playground is no place to hide from adulthood.”

The Playground by Julia Kelly is out on June 4 (Quercus, £7.99).


2 Comments Add yours

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    I’m with Julia on the ‘knackered’ comment – what am I supposed to reply to that? ‘Thank you for pointing it out’? And what an interesting start to writing her novel about a playground… Thanks for the Q&A, Janet – very edifying!


    1. janetemson says:

      Yes I know what you mean! I still continue to find the answers to these Q&As fascinating. Always interesting to see how diverse yet similar the writing process and experience can be 🙂


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