Interviews with Writers

Interview | Annemarie Neary | Siren

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I’m delighted to welcoming Annemarie today who is chatting to us about her novel Siren.

Annemarie is an Irish-born novelist and short story writer, now living in London. Her awards for short fiction include the Bryan MacMahon and Michael McLaverty short story competitions (Ireland) and the Columbia Journal fiction prize (US).

Psychological thriller Siren is publishing on 24 March 2016.  Hutchinson (Penguin Random House UK)

Connect with Annemarie

Twitter @AnnemarieNeary1

Hi Annemarie,


Welcome to JJ



Please summarise Siren in 20 words or less.

A woman determined to force a politician to confront his past finds danger waiting on a remote Irish island.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

The seed for the novel was a story I wrote some time ago about a young girl who is an unwitting pawn in a honey trap during the Northern Ireland Troubles. I became fascinated by the implications for the character further down the line. Would she be submerged by guilt? Or would she try to reinvent herself? And, if the latter, how long would that reinvention hold before the past came rushing in?

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if Siren were optioned for a movie?

I’d have Stephen Rea as Lonergan, Saoirse Ronan for Roisin as a young girl (I’m sure she could play a 16-year old, right?!). Since I’d have to fit in Michael Fassbender somewhere, he’d be Theo, the enigmatic Dutchman who also lives on the island. Boyle would fall somewhere between Mackenzie Crook and Robert Carlyle…

Still on the topic of movies, do you have a favourite adaptation?

I’ve seen two really strong movie adaptations this year – Brooklyn and Room.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …

Don’t do it!

Did you travel to any places Annemarie? Undergo any new experiences?

I’ve set 2/3 of the book in a location I know really well. I’ve spent lots of summers in West Cork, near a place called Roaringwater Bay which has many islands (though not a Lamb Island). Much of the geography for my fictional island is stolen from Cape Clear, the most beautiful and remote of these West Cork islands, which lies about 8 miles offshore near the Fastnet Rock which gives its name to the famous biennial yacht race.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I’m a night owl so I love nothing more than to work late when everyone else is asleep. I like to get on with new stuff in the morning, but I’m not much good in the afternoon.

Pantster or a plotter Annemarie?

I’ve always tended to spluge and then cut, cut, cut. However, I have a fairly tight deadline for the next book so I am attempting to be much more organised. This time, I’ve had a pretty clear idea of the main thrust of the novel from the start and that has been a great help. Of course, there is still a lot of cutting and re-thinking to be done, but having a plan is a great comfort. So, by nature a pantser but learning the sense in planning.

What are you reading now? Opinion?

‘We have always lived in the Castle’ by Shirley Jackson, recently reissued by Penguin. A unique voice. Compelling. Dark. Disturbing.

Finally Annemarie, what are you currently working on?

I’m working on another psychological thriller, this time set in and around a South London common. A brother and sister leading very different lives are thrown into turmoil when it appears the mother who disappeared many years ago might still be alive.

Thank you for sharing with my blog readers today Annemarie.


Wishing you success with all your projects.


Róisín Burns has spent the past twenty years becoming someone else; her life in New York is built on lies.

A figure from her Belfast childhood flashes up on the news: Brian Lonergan has also reinvented himself. He is now a rising politician in a sharp suit. But scandal is brewing in Ireland and Róisín knows the truth.

Armed with the evidence that could ruin Lonergan, she travels back across the Atlantic to the remote Lamb Island to hunt him down.

But Lonergan is one step ahead; when Róisín arrives on the island, someone else is waiting for her…

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Siren has been described by Liz Nugent, author of Unravelling Oliver, as ‘gripping, riveting and full of suspense.’

Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days said ‘I loved Siren. Annemarie Neary’s crisp and beautiful writing cuts to the bone, a rarity in psychological thrillers.’

Siren is listed on The Irish Times books to watch out for in 2016 and is one of Isabel Costello’s Hot Picks 2016 on her blog, The Literary Sofa.

Will you be adding Siren to you to be read pile?

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting and being out in nature are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school. I'm passionate about early help and sharing strategies with families to empower and help build resilience. I'm a member of of my Local Authority's Early Help Operational Board, working alongside other professionals to instigate change and growth.

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