by Joyce Lamb)
Cecelia Ahern, author of One Hundred Names, shares what inspires her books, including three of the people who've helped inspire her.
Cecelia: In the 10 years that I've been writing novels, the question I'm constantly asked is, "What inspires you?"
What inspires my novels is quite simple: life. My novels focus on the human spirit, people who have endured and who find strength in the darkest of moments, who become a version of themselves that they never believed they could be. I balance humour and sadness, because that's how I deal with things, and with that as the backbone, that's how I have written 11 novels.
What inspires me personally is slightly more specific.
I'm inspired, not by places, not even really by things, but mostly by people. I'm inspired by those who have found their voice and who have found a way to let that voice be heard. I'm inspired by self-expression, by bravery and individuality. For example: Orla de Bri, Irish sculptor, a strong woman with a strong message in a world that is predominantly male; Beyonce, who is not Irish but we have adopted her. I've seen her live twice in less than 12 months and listen to her every day and leave her shows not wanting to be a singer, or a dancer, or famous, or beautiful, just wanting to be better and stronger — be a better writer, be a better mother. Her concerts feel to me like a hub for people's dreams and — in the same way when I read a book and find a sentence that could have been plucked right out of my head — I don't feel alone; somebody out there has the same beliefs and we are immediately unified.
I'm inspired by Sinead O'Connor. She's brave. She speaks her mind not to cause controversy but because she's got something that she feels is important to say, and a lot of the time I agree with what she says. It's always easier not to say things. I admire her bravery.
Taking my passion for uniqueness, for individuality, for self-expression and for bravery, all of these things found their way into my new novel.
One Hundred Names is about journalist Kitty Logan's quest to find her voice. A long time spent writing other people's ideas, trying to appeal to a market whose desires and needs are already pre-supposed by the unfeeling machine she works for, she must learn how to tell her own story in her own words, with her own feelings, not the stories she thinks people want to hear. You don't have to dig the dirt for a good story, you just need to listen.
I'm always asked to give advice to aspiring writers; Tip No. 1, never take other people's advice. It has been given because it has links to their own experiences and is tainted by their own mistakes and achievements, not yours. But one thing I truly believe is important for any artist or any person, is to find your own voice. Know yourself. As soon as you put pen to paper you will be unique because nobody else sounds like you, nobody else shares your voice. That's what makes you you.
It's what all artists are motivated by — the desire to express their voice in a way that they can, in the way that feels most natural. It's amazing how when you listen to the little voice inside, how loud it can become through your work.
Find out more about Cecelia and her books at www.cecelia-ahern.com.