Bestselling author Anna McPartlin has been writing her unique brand of heartbreaking-yet-uplifting novels since 2006, and is currently published in 15 languages across 18 countries.

Popular titles include Pack Up The Moon and The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - the latter was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a Barnes & Nobel Book of the Month choice in the US.

In recent years, Anna has made a splash as a screenwriter, penning episodes of long-running medical drama Holby City and RTÉ's legal drama Striking Out, and publishing her first children’s book, Fearless Five. With her latest book, Below The Big Blue Sky, on shelves now, we asked Anna for her choice cultural picks...


FILM

I am a huge Coen Brothers fan. I love everything they've ever done but my all-time favourite has to be The Big Lebowski. I remember the first time I watched it and the absolute joy I experienced. I’ve watched it many times since and it’s just the gift that keeps on giving. The script is sensational and there is zero fat on it. The acting is sublime with Jeff Bridges giving the performance of his career. It’s a real gem. If I could walk in the shoes of one fictional character it would be The Dude’s.

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MUSIC

I’m listening to Niall Horan's and Harry Styles's new albums. The One Direction phenomenon pretty much passed me by as I wasn’t even close to the demographic so they both feel really new and fresh artists to me. Niall’s Heartbreak Weather has some crackers on it including Nice To Meet Ya, and No Judgement. it’s the perfect album for walking in circles around the area. Harry Styles Fine Line is one great song after the next and is a particularly pleasant listen while drinking too much wine while cooking too much food.

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BOOK

I recently read a book by Helly Acton entitled The Shelf. A guy dumps his girlfriend live on TV and she ends up on a reality TV show. It’s brilliantly observed, a perfect tale for this time, and full of feminist fun.

THEATRE

I went to The Gate in January of this year to see A Christmas Carol. Full disclosure, my nephew Freddie played Tiny Tim but that’s not my only reason for loving the production. It was genuinely the best play I’ve seen in ten years. The critics loved it, they played to packed houses every night and the people wanted more so there is a rumor that it will run again. The Gate is closed until 2021 - if it does come back, my nephew will probably have aged out of the part but I’ll be buying a ticket and going again.

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TV

The Stranger had me from the get-go. It was fast, pacey, edge of your seat viewing and I binged watched it over the course of two nights. Danny Brocklehurst did an amazing job of bringing Harian Coben’s novel to the screen. I wasn’t entirely happy with the final episode, it felt a little rushed and I was a little let down - but overall it was really strong and exciting stuff. Also I love Siobhan Finneran, I’d watch that woman paint a wall and find it fascinating. She’s one of my favourite actors working today. Siobhan and Sarah Lancashire are exceptional. That reminds me of Happy Valley, absolute classic TV. It’s a few years old now but it’s genius.

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GIG

My husband and I are huge stand-up comedy fans. We try to see stand up shows whenever we’re in America or the UK. He’s a huge Ted Alexandro fan, and we were really privileged to watch him in a tiny club in New York. Bill Burr was another incredible show. We were due to see Ricky Gervais Supernature tour in 3Arena but it was cancelled due to Covid. It’s been rescheduled till January 2021, so that will probably be the next gig I go to if it isn’t further pushed out. all going well when things get back to normal. I am a massive fan of Ricky’s work.

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ART

I discovered the artist Jo Lawless at the People’s Art in St. Stephen’s Green. She paints landscapes and cityscapes in acrylics and oils. Jo’s work is all about capturing memories and nostalgia and she does so beautifully. She’s advertised as preparing for her own exhibition in November in Aras Chronain. If it goes ahead I’ll be there.

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PODCAST

David McWilliams is rocking my lockdown. He turns a lecture on economics, a traditionally bone crushingly boring topic into a study of human nature and history which are two of my favourite subjects. John, his best pal of fifty years joins him and we get to listen to two old friends spin yarns about their shared past. There’s always a sports analogy or two and better still he’s all about ‘blue sky’ thinking and positivity. He and his pal John are genuinely keeping me going on the grimmer days.

TECH

I had no relationship with Zoom before but now I’m hanging with friends and family on it. I’m conducting all my meetings on it. Next week I’m starting a virtual writers room for two weeks for a Irish / Canadian TV drama co-production using it and I can’t wait. If this works I may never have to travel for work again.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

There is a young UK performer called Robbie White, he’s an actor and a singer and he’s got it all. I’d be amazed if I don’t see him on some of the biggest stages the world has to offer in the next few years.

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Below The Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin (published by Zaffre) is out now. Pic: Bryan Meade