Aurora: Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Moira: All the Bad Apples is the story of 17-year-old Deena Rys, whose older sister Mandy goes missing, presumed dead. The day after the funeral, Deena receives a letter from Mandy, telling her about a curse she believes affects the women of the Rys family who don’t conform. At the age of 17, those who have been branded as bad apples by the rest of the family tree begin to be haunted by three banshees: a warning that they are cursed to have horrible things happen to them. Deena has just accidentally come out to her intolerant father and now Mandy fears the curse will come to her. Deena must now follow Mandy’s letters across the country, retracing the roots of their family tree and learning about the bad apples of their family history in order to discover the origins of this curse, to break it before it breaks her.
What was your inspiration?
I wanted to write about a teenage girls crossing the country to retrace the roots of her family tree and finding herself in its branches. I wanted to write about a family curse heralded by three banshees — grey ghost women of Irish mythology whose screams are said to foretell a death. And I wanted to write about the ways in which women’s voices have been silenced and their bodies controlled throughout Irish history — and how that history continues to repeat itself until stories are shared, truths are spoken and stigma is broken.
What character do you most relate to and why?
Had I been born into Deena’s family I would have been branded a bad apple too, but I am nothing like Deena or Mandy. I loved writing characters — generations of characters — so unlike myself. I definitely injected a lot of my own strong feelings about motherhood into several of the characters, but in terms of which character is most like me, I suppose I’ll go with Cale, because as a teenager I’d have been exactly the kind of person who’d join three strangers on a midnight trek through fields to an abandoned cottage to light candles and lay out stones and kiss like ghosts.
Why do you feel fantasy books are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I’d describe All the Bad Apples as magic realism, and I think that blend of reality and fantasy has such a voice at the moment because it’s a beautiful way to reflect difficult subjects, trauma and secrets — all of which are subjects I’m always interested in exploring. I love the idea of marrying mythology with the modern world to make sense of real life horrors through the idea of reality and fantasy intertwining and overlapping. Reality’s particularly harsh around the world right now and fantasy, sci-fi and magic realism have always been a way to reflect and process that.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I’m always writing. Right now I’m starting something so new I’m still keeping it close and secret. It may involve witches and blackbirds and drawing up natal charts for houses.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Right now I’m loving the queer Irish feminist witchy writing of Deirdre Sullivan and Sarah Maria Griffin.