Elizabeth Wassell was born in New York, spent long years in Ireland with her late husband, Irish poet laureate John Montague, and now lives in France. She is the author of five novels: The Honey Plain (1997); Sleight of Hand (1999); The Thing He Loves (2001); Dangerous Pity (2010); and Sustenance (2011), along with numerous short stories. She has published short stories in the Irish Times, the Dublin Review and the Moth magazine. Recently, she completed her sixth novel, At the Villa Celeste, her most ambitious book so far.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: It’s unoriginal, but I’d have to say Shakespeare. He is remarkable not only for his genius but for having put every conceivable feeling into his poems and plays: ordinary jealousy; love; hatred; fear; yearning. Our whole human story. And then perhaps Charlotte Brontë. I love that touch of the mystical in her work.
Q: Do you have a lucky writing talisman? If so, what is it?
A: I have a magic pen and will say no more, because it is not a good idea to scrutinise magic too closely.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: Writer’s block. It makes your hope and courage falter. But it always goes away. Eventually.
Q: Who is your personal inspiration?
A: My late husband, poet John Montague. He lived and worked with such passion and courage, and his verses are radiant.
My husband and I live along a West Cork boreen. Heather and gorse brocade the fields, and the hedges are heavy with hawthorn and blackthorn. Some evenings, this landscape seems to exhale an almost uncanny light. We are both in our forties, and work from home. We collaborate on ‘historical romance’ novels. Our pseudonym is Andrea Daniels …