You’ve come a long, long way since your debut novel. How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally?
“I do feel my writing has developed. I always feel that it gets better with every book. I love writing. It’s my happy space. Of course there are days when it doesn’t work, somedays you can’t put two words together but other days it flows. It’s like a release. The more you do it, the more you should improve. There’s a big difference between when I was 21 and now. I’ve just turned 30, I think it’s a confidence thing. Even though I was always confident in my work, that’s grown. I’m confident in myself and in life. When I was 21 I wasn’t very assertive. I’d do a lot of things because I thought I had to. I’m learning I can actually say no. Learning to say no is so important. Women in their 20s can’t say no. I think it’s a worldwide thing but perhaps particularly for Irish women. You have to take ownership of your own life.”
How much involvement have you in your book covers?
“They’re all done by Harper Collins. They run everything by me and then they just do what they want! [Laughs] I’m incredibly lucky with the covers. I see everything, the colours, layout, everything but they know what sells. It’s an art. They do research and it doesn’t really matter what I think in that way, but I’m lucky in that I always like them. I think they always look like a gift.”
Where does your inspiration come from?
“Life. I watch a lot of TV and read a lot of books. I just observe everything.”
Do you ever get so involved in your characters you find it hard to switch off?
“It’s very important to me that I walk home from work to clear my head.”
You used to write in your attic room. What’s changed?
“It’s true, I had an attic office, but now I have an office. I leave the house and go to work. I take a lunch break and it’s very structured. My office is by myself but I share the building with other businesses. It’s much better, it’s taken work out of my house. I did it because I have my daughter now and I can’t work with her there, it’s impossible I just want to be with her and also because the house is becoming an office and that’s fine for me and my husband but not for my child.”
You write a lot about Dublin, where’s your favourite place in the city?
“Malahide, because that’s where I’m from but Howth as well because I spend a lot of time there. I like the area around Grafton Street too, it’s where I do a lot of meetings.”
Most exciting part of your career so far?
“I suppose it has to be PS I Love you because it changed my life and so many things happened because of it, there was the movie and then there was Samantha Who which was huge too.”
What do you wish you knew five years ago?
“I’d like to tell myself to chill out but then if I chilled out then things wouldn’t happen they way they happened, but I don’t think I enjoyed myself much. I found everything quite tense. I think I’d just say ‘It’s going to be fine’, I wish I could have told myself that.”
Cecelia Ahern’s new novel The Time of My Life is out now, published by Harper Collins, €19.20