Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Having come to 'letters' later on in life and as a second career, it's important to me in that it has become truly my life's work . . . in terms of it being an important, indeed absolutely necessary medium for the world, the work we do--in fiction, non-fiction and the numerous sub-genres of both--provides the reader with a continuing flow of stories--real and fictional--from which they can and do continue to learn, grow, expand their minds and lives.

Perhaps most importantly, reading a book provides the time to absorb, think, reflect, re-read, make notes . . . in a world of instant-information and 24-hour news cycles, the opportunity to reflect is becoming increasingly rare. People need our books!

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I have suffered this affliction on but two occasions in these eight years: The first time was so bad that I turned to a dear friend, a confident and a mentor in Dublin--she basically did "therapy' with me, which identified and ultimately helped solve the problem.

More recently, finding myself 'stuck' but nowhere near as becalmed as before--I have walked away from the work. . .and have only recently resumed it. This self-enforced time away worked!

What is your favorite time to write? Early in the morning, late in the afternoon.  If I have been exceptionally 'productive' I will print the pages out--to read and revise in bed before going to sleep.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Regarding writing advice, I was reminded of a saying that the Irish "dance with the (English) language," in the sense that they revel in writing as one does with the certain amount of self-abandon that dancing requires.

On my better days, which appear on the better segments of the one thousand-plus pages so far written in the Derrynane Saga, I feel I have been able to do this.

"Dancing" results in richer, more authentic dialogue; more vivid, greater detailed descriptions of people and places and conveys a deeper level of the emotions of anger, fear--and love--which are so much a part of the genre in which I work.

I would suggest that any writer who dares to "dance with the language" in any genre will write more beautifully, certainly more colourfully.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? In what I feel my Eighteenth Century characters would speak of as being "a time of pestilence, of plague" what excites me is that people seem to be reading more--whether as an escape from all that's occurring or simply because they find they have more time to read. Many of them are hungry, eager for something new--this is an incredible opportunity for a less well-known writer, for one in a more specialised genre to perhaps expand one's readership.

It's an exciting time. . .

Bittersweet Tapestry: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe is out with Gortcullinane Press.