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“I put a lot of pressure on myself to write the best book I can. The first three books had so much from my own life. I tried to do a course in women’s studies but they don’t do them in Ireland.

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Together they travel five months over a two-year period, promoting her books.

In her public appearances Keyes comes across as polished and confident, but in the pauses you can see the effort she expends to make her readers go away happy.

But when I ended up in rehab, humor was part of my day-to-day life.” Several of Keyes’ books follow the fortunes of the Walsh sisters, who have in turn dealt with real life issues such as depression, addiction, and death.

It’s the character of their madcap mother who seems to veer closer to wishful thinking.

When I started writing in the early 90s I wanted to write about women like me. I could see I had huge anxieties about my fertility and my relationship with my body. But Keyes is the best and certainly the best-known of an Irish chick lit scene.

Writers like Patricia Scanlon, Cathy Kelly, Sheila O’ Flanagan, Sophie Kinsella, and Cecilia Ahern, whose work owes more to the Irish oral storytelling tradition than any literary inheritance, all have international audiences.

All combine topics like death, depression, and domestic abuse with a large dollop of humor.

Keyes believes Irish women have a particular facility for writing this kind of fiction. We’re in tune with the darkness of life and we know that humor is our survival mechanism. Having to let go of alcohol, which was the love of my life, was excruciating.

By Lauren Byrne, Contributor August / September 2006 International bestselling Irish author Marian Keyes talks to Lauren Byrne about the other side of chick lit.

“Ask me anything,” Marian Keyes invited her audience at a recent reading she gave in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while promoting her latest book “I’m happy to talk about my alcoholism, suicide attempt, my low self-esteem.” Her listeners declined the invitation.

But when Marian’ s first novel, , was published, Mrs. “People like my mother were disgusted with my first book. So many women said, ‘Thank you for saying the stuff that goes on in my head.’ And they thanked me for articulating that Irish women have a sex life; that Irish women can be raunchy. But Keyes with her tumble of dark hair and her lively blue eyes has the look of an Irish fairy princess, and her own story, with its extremes of dark and light and its satisfying twist of redemption, has closer parallels to a mythological tale.

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