Hearts and Bones is the debut collection of short stories from Kilkenny-born Niamh Mulvey, who spent ten years working as a commissioning editor for a publishing house in London before swapping the red pen for blue - now she's an acclaimed author in her own right. Niamh talks to RTÉ Arena below...

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We asked Niamh Mulvey for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I enjoyed Another Round, a Danish film about boozing. It's very honest about how alcohol consumption shapes our lives – in a non-preachy but also clear-sighted way. Also: very funny, with some touching depictions of the lives of teachers.

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MUSIC

I’ve listened to no album more than Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters over the last couple of years. Its theme is stripping everything back to the bone, the sound is very raw and primal and full of mad percussion. I love it and probably wouldn’t have written my book without it.

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BOOK

These days, I mostly read history, I like to swap between Irish and Russian history –to induce a feeling of vertigo. Currently it’s Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine, which is about Ukraine, and Nell McCafferty’s autobiography. For fun, I read thrillers: I loved Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot – it’s a gossipy and page-turning take on intrigues in the literary world.

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PLAY

I almost never go to the theatre, as it’s either crazily expensive or excruciating. I think the last thing I saw was a full-day production of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels at the National Theatre in London. It was… not as good as the books. Someone told me recently I need to go to more experimental theatre. Perhaps...

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TV

My husband and I have been watching Bamber Gascoigne’s historical documentaries on YouTube, they were made in the seventies, they are brilliant. I don’t know who gave him all that money but it was worth it.

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GIG

I went to see Audiobooks upon the recommendation of my brother recently, they are excellent, very English and weird.

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Next up is that same brother’s gig in Soho, he is Mulveye, he is Neil Hannon meets Pulp, with an Irish accent. I’m also going to see the Orb in Lewisham and then Mary Coughlan in Cleere’s in Kilkenny in the autumn.

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ART

Raphael at the National Gallery was the last thing I saw. I liked his paintings of his mates.

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PODCAST

Mark Overanalyses Film is a very witty and entertaining new podcast about story-structure as applied to film. As a fiction writer, I am prone to too much internalizing in my writing and I find thinking like a screenwriter can help counterbalance this tendency.

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TECH

I like how Substack and Patreon are helping independent producers and artists build their audiences. I also swear by Freedom – which is an app that blocks the internet or selected websites from your computer or phone. I would get nothing done without it.

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THE NEXT BIG THING...

Nuance. I hope. I keep thinking of Séamus Heaney’s line 'the end of art is peace’. I am very frightened by the polarization and dehumanization that our technological era has unleashed so I am interested in whatever the opposite of that is. I think art is the opposite of propaganda, so that’s what I’m seeking out these days, in whatever form I can find it.