Julie Parsons was born in New Zealand and has lived most of her adult life in Ireland. She has had a varied career - artists model, typesetter, freelance journalist, radio and television producer - before returning to write fiction, winning acclaim for a series of bestselling thrillers including Mary Mary, I Saw You, The Hourglass, The Courtship Gift and Eager To Please   Her latest novel, The Therapy House, is launched at The Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire on 2nd May. 

Film

I was knocked out by Silence directed by Martin Scorsese, which I saw earlier this year. The cold chill of the scenes was powerful and moving as was the story of the terrible moral dilemma in which the Catholic priests found themselves in 17th century Japan. Should they maintain the purity of their faith knowing the torture which will be inflicted on their converts, or should they give in to save them from this torture? I  was extremely impressed by the performance of Liam Neeson as Fr Ferreira. Great to see Neeson doing something which stretches him artistically after all the Taken movies. I was very surprised that the film  didn't sweep the boards in the Oscars. 

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Music

It's the old favourite, Kind of Blue. I listened to Miles Davis as I wrote my new novel The Therapy House. The music is hypnotic, rhythmic, uplifting and just plain beautiful. I saw Miles Davis many years ago when I lived in New Orleans. His relationship with his audience was the jazz version of Bob Dylan's. In other words he took no prisoners. You either liked what you heard or you could go elsewhere. Needless to say I went nowhere.

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Theatre

This year it was the opera version of The Dead by James Joyce. Stunningly re-imagined with wonderful music by Ellen Cranitch, I was profoundly moved by it. Incredibly clever staging, with terrific performances, musical, vocal and dramatic. It stayed with me for days afterwards.

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Television 

Homeland season 6 was my stay-at-home TV this year so far. A fantastic script, great story, and the high quality acting we have come to expect and always get from the cast of Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, Mandy Patinkin and F. Murray Abraham. How were they going to handle the Trump presidency we asked ourselves? By out-Trumping Trump, ramping up the paranoia and leaving us gasping for more. And - spoiler alert! - I cried real tears for Peter Quinn...

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Gig

Don't miss guitarist John Moriarty who's playing with the Linley Hamilton Quintet in the Playhouse Theatre in Derry at 8pm on Friday night. John is a wonderful musician and always worth looking out for. It's sad that JJs in Aungier Street has finally closed, but John will be playing with Richie Buckley in the new venue, Arthurs, in Thomas St on Friday 26th May at 9pm. For something completely different, the St Cecilia Singers will be performing Mozart's Requiem in Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 6th May at 9pm, and the Frascati Singers are performing Vivaldi's Gloria in All Saints Church, Blackrock on Sunday May 21st at 4pm. Lots of wonderful music coming up!

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Art

A couple of weeks ago we went to IMMA to see the Lucien Freud exhibition. I'd been putting it off because I was worried I'd be disappointed, that the paintings wouldn't be so good up close and personal. Well the answer to that question is that they're better. I fell in love over and over again. With Freud himself of course, with his dogs and his sitters in particular the Irish bookie and his son. Fascinating to see how Freud handled their ageing in the portraits painted over a period of time. Stunning.

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Radio

I hate to admit this, but I'm a fan of The Archers. It's been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Having had a bit of a stab at radio drama in my time I'm constantly amazed by the way they tell the stories in fifteen minute bite sizes. They get to the point and they stay there and they draw their listeners in - hook. line and sinker. 

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Tech

I don't do apps, but I've asked my grand children for one for my next birthday. I've heard you can get all kinds of wonderful stargazing apps so you can decode the night sky.

The Next Big Thing

The summer... I can't wait. We spend a lot of it on Sherkin Island in West Cork. When the sun shines, it's a magical place, full of light and colour. Even when the sun doesn't shine it continues to work its magic: the smell of the sea, the sound of the wind, the thud of the rain drops on the stones - you can't beat it. Night skies are extraordinary - the moon rises over Slievemore and casts its blue light over the fields. You can understand why I need my astronomy app - I can pick out the Plough rearing up over the house and Orion the warrior keeping guard - but there are so many other stars to get to know...