Maeve Binchy was born in Dalkey, a small village outside of Dublin, Ireland. Having received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College in Dublin, Maeve became a teacher at a Jewish school. During a vacation in Israel, she discovered life in the kibbutz which inspired her to work there. Weekly, she wrote to her father describing a country always on the brink of war and her father sold one of her letters to the Irish Times, inexplicably launching Maeve's writing career.
Maeve has written countless novels depicting ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. She has written three volumes of short stories entitled This Year It Will Be Different, The Return Journey and London Transports, two plays and a teleplay that won three awards at the Prague Film Festival. She is probably best known for novels such as Circle of Friends, which was made into a feature film starring Minnie Driver, Chris O'Donnell and Alan Cumming.
Her latest novel, Tara Road, has just been chosen as Oprah's Book of the Month and has been on the New York Times bestseller lists for weeks.
When asked about her style of writing, Maeve says, "I want my books to draw the readers into the tale that is being unfolded. I do not write poetry, I do not have a particular literary style, I am not experimental, nor have I explored a new form of literature. I tell a story and I want to share it with my readers. In today's world, where audiences want to lose themselves for a while, there does seem to be a place for the stories I write..."
Just as Frank McCourt, the Celtic Cafe's featured writer for September, was a teacher for almost 30 years and is a staunch supporter for public education, Maeve Binchy has also been a teacher herself.
"I think that while we must ensure that all our teachers are well informed and able to communicate what they teach in the clearest and simplest way, we always remember the teachers who were quirky, unusual personalities in their own right, who fired up enthusiasm and opened our minds to laughing more." She said in a recent interview.
"Good teachers believe that their pupils can do anything. When I was at school, we had a teacher like that, and in my books there are always good, wise teachers turning up from time to time. In my own teaching days, I taught Latin, which the girls hated at the beginning, but I made it my dream to make them love it and believe they understood it, and to this day they tell me that they remember my classroom lessons of over thirty years ago, which gives me huge pleasure."
For aspiring writers, Maeve's advice is simple: "The very best advice I ever heard was that first you choose a topic you know something about and then tell yourself in a very stern voice you MUST write ten pages a week. Not just hope to write ten pages or that you'll think about writing ten pages but that you MUST do it or else you will be prosecuted. Then in 30 weeks you will have a book. It may not be a good book but it will be a finished book and that will put you streets ahead of ninety nine per cent of the world."
You can learn more about Maeve Binchy by visiting her publisher's site, Random House.
written by Velvet Durano. 1999
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