Irish Author Naoise Dolan discusses debut novel ‘Exciting Times’

Naoise Dolan is making waves in the literary circles. Described as ‘one of the most hotly-tipped debut authors of 2020’, the 27-year-old Dublin born writer’s much-anticipated novel ‘Exciting Times’ is a humorous and scorchingly smart modern love story about three cynics in Hong Kong. Bláthnait Ní Mhurchú catches up with the young author about her writing journey. 

As a child, what did you aspire to be?

I had a lot of different daydreams as a child. I wanted to be an artist, but then I realised that I wasn’t truly interested in painting itself, just in working under solitary conditions and in concentrating intensely on a project of my choosing. So writing novels works well for me. I’ve never wanted to be a writer; I just write, or don’t, depending on how the rest of my life is going.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me a few months to write the first draft, but much longer to edit. I try to be patient and leave a lot of time between drafts, because it helps me notice things that I wouldn’t if I’d been staring at it for too long.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It depends on how many responsibilities I’m juggling, and on whether they can be done remotely. I write in whatever spare moments I can find. When I do have a whole day to write, I like to draft one thing until lunch, then edit something else until dinner.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I try to read around my interests. I love history and politics especially, but there are so many things to learn about, and there’s never enough time to learn them all.

How do you stay motivated to continue writing?

When I lack the short-term motivation to write, I start with something fun, like an argument between two characters, and then once I get into the flow of it I’m usually fine. If I lacked long-term motivation to write then I would just find something else to do! The world doesn’t need me to write novels, so there’d be no point in continuing if I stopped enjoying it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My main hobbies are photography, learning languages and basic coding (mostly HTML and CSS), drawing, vintage shopping, and eating vegan junk food.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Learning how publishing works. I knew next to nothing about the industry until I’d finished my novel, so I’ve picked up a fair bit of knowledge since then.

Do you hear from your readers much? 

People sometimes reach out, and so far I’m lucky in that it tends to only be when they have something nice to say!

What do you think makes a good story?

One that makes me curious. I don’t need to sympathise with any of the characters, but I need to wonder about them and be interested to find out more.

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan is published in Trade Paperback by W&N, €13.99.