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Page Turners: ‘Bodies’ author Christine Anne Foley

Page Turners: ‘Bodies’ author Christine Anne Foley


by Sarah Gill
10th Jul 2024

Ahead of the publication of her debut novel, Bodies, we caught up with Christine Anne Foley to discuss her literary influences, writing process, and the power that comes with transforming fear into anger.

It’s because of books like Christine Anne Foley’s debut, Bodies, that words like ‘unputdownable’ were invented. I cracked open its spine expecting a book jammed full of stories about the ways in which relationships leave a lasting impression on our psyches, and what I got was that and so much more.

A story of feminine rage, heartbreak, vulnerability and chaos, Bodies is subversive, raw, poignant and unexpected. Through the character of Charlotte, Christine channels the trauma and experience of women everywhere in a powerful and cathartic way.

It’s being well-regarded as the ‘It Girl’ book of the summer since its official publication at the start of July, and I would be inclined to agree. Positioning Christine as an Irish author to watch, this title should absolutely be on your to-be-read list for the months ahead.

Read on for our interview with Christine…

Bodies Christine Anne Foley

Did you always want to be a writer? Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.

I’ve been writing from a young age and always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I will admit the journey is not an easy one. I studied English Literature at university and then with the advice of my tutor Deirdre Madden, I went on to pursue a Master’s in Creative Writing. I have two unpublished books under the bed that will never see the light of day. I think with writing, you must persevere and not take rejection to heart. I think it’s also important to write because you want to and not just with a view to getting published. When you let go of that pressure, you write your best work. I do it because I love it.

What inspired you to start writing?

Reading, one hundred percent. Getting lost in a book was a huge part of my childhood and I knew from an early age that this is what I wanted to do. I want to give people this outlet, this safe space.

Tell us about your new book. Where did the idea come from?

My new book Bodies is all about the female experience. The book follows Charlotte’s relationships with men throughout her life, from her early teens to her early thirties. The book explores themes like gaslighting, love bombing and cheating, themes I feel a large female readership will relate to. It’s also about what is done to women’s bodies and the lasting impact of trauma. It’s a novel filled with rage and anger, but it is also a novel that explores vulnerability and how in a world where women are treated like objects, there is still a tenderness to our experiences.

Bodies started as a novel about a woman, one woman and her experiences in a patriarchal society. However, as soon as I started to write Bodies and draw on my own personal experiences with men, the story expanded and turned into a story about all women and the constant fight we have every single day.

Women are constantly living in fear and Bodies is about that fear turning into anger.

Bodies Christine Anne Foley

What do you hope this book instils in the reader?

I wanted to create a story where a woman experienced trauma, but was not the perfect victim. Charlotte is by no means infallible and that was so important to me. Women do not always need to be likeable and fit into a box. I hope people are left with that feeling.

What did you learn when writing this book?

It was in a way, a cathartic experience, I worked through a lot of my own trauma. I also learned about writing, what can be achieved by telling a story and how you can relate to so many people by exploring relationships through prose. I still have so much to learn!

Tell us about your writing process?

Ideally, if I have time, I like to set up a nice space for myself, lighting incense or a candle. Then I do a guided creative meditation, something to ground me and allow me to focus, then I open my notebook and try to connect with what I’m feeling that day and see how it relates to my characters.

However, between deadlines and inspiration coming out of nowhere, this isn’t always feasible, and I often find myself scribbling away on the nearest piece of paper, be it the back of a receipt or an envelope. It’s all or nothing with me, perfection, or chaos.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

From reading widely. It’s the most important part of my job. I must read daily. I’m a big fan of Irish authors like Anne Enright and Megan Nolan. I love reading the female experience from an Irish perspective and I think we have so many diverse voices in Irish literature now and it’s really exciting.

I also tend to draw a lot on my own experiences, but I need to have distance from them. I’ve generally written about 70% of any story in my head before I put pen to paper, it’s just there, marinating. But if I had to pick one place to go to get material, I’d pick any form of public transport. That’s where you meet interesting people living their full lives. I love it!

What are your top three favourite books of all time, and why?

Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting. Welsh explores societal issues in such an illuminating way, I love it.

Anne Enright, The Gathering. Enright is just a fantastic writer in every way and in The Gathering she delves into deriving meaning from the past and deals with issues like alcoholism in a unique way, a subject which at times can feel jaded.

Robert McLiam Wilson’s Eureka Street is one of my all-time favourites, a novel set against The Troubles that explores a non-sectarian friendship in a sectarian society.

Who are some of your favourite authors, Irish or otherwise?

I saw Ocean Vuong speak at an event in Dublin recently having loved On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. The book is the coming-of-age story of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. The book is filled with passion and tenderness alongside vicious brutality and war trauma. It is a story of personal discovery and sexual awakening, and it is truly beautiful.

Megan Nolan is a big inspiration to me, and I think she is really leading the way for Irish literature at the moment. Paul Murray has taken the world by storm this year with his novel The Bee Sting but he has been one of my favourites since devouring Skippy Dies in college.

What are some upcoming book releases we should have on our radar?

I think we are all on the edge of our seats for Sally Rooney’s Intermezzo, publishing in September!

What book made you want to become a writer?

I was a big Meg Cabot fan so The Princess Diaries will always stand out in my memory. I’ll always remember Mia describing her first love, Michael, and how he had a wonderful smelling neck. I genuinely thought this was going to be my experience too but unfortunately not all necks smell equal! Reading that entire series made me want to write my own.

What’s one book you would add to the school curriculum?

Donal Ryan’s From a Low and Quiet Sea.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

I adored The Bee Sting, as mentioned above. I also loved Oisin McKenna’s debut, Evenings and Weekends, I think it’s a tie.

What’s some advice you’ve got for other aspiring writers?

Read and read widely. Read outside your comfort zone. Don’t take rejection personally, keep writing. Write because you love it. Be your authentic self and use writing to face your fears head on.

Lastly, what do the acts of reading and writing mean to you?

Reading, particularly fiction, has been known to increase empathy and I think this is why both reading and writing are important to me. It helps us understand our shared human experiences.

Bodies by Christine Anne Foley was published by John Murray Press, and is on sale now.

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