Dawn O’Porter in conversation with Róisín Ingle at Smock Alley Theatre
Saturday May 25th 2013
Dawn O’Porter is perhaps best known for marrying Chris O’Dowd, which I think is a tad unfair as she is hugely talented in her own right. Her session in Smock Alley Theatre was to talk about her début novel, Paper Aeroplanes, but as always the conversation tended to stray and we got a unique insight into her life and all the hard work she had put in to get to that point.
For those not familiar with the book, it’s centred around the lives of two fifteen-year-old schoolgirls who by all rights shouldn’t be friends. Flo is a thoughtful, quiet and introverted girl while Renée is the exact opposite. Loneliness draws them together until Renée’s infatuation with Flo’s brother threatens to destroy their friendship. Dawn talked about how she could see so much of Renée within herself and that the fact she lost her mother at such a young age like her character let her express the feelings she never got to when she was younger. She talked about her upbringing and how it shaped who she was, how she had first lived with her grandparents and later her aunt after her mother’s death. The two main characters in the book are actually named after her grandmother. Flo was her real name and when she had an affair with a man during the war she had given him the fake name Renée, a fact Dawn only found out years after her grandmother had passed, so she decided to name both characters after her.
The book itself is loosely based on her upbringing, but it’s also written in a way that we can all identify with. She also revealed that there will be a follow up novel, based on the same characters but set a year after the first novel is set. In between talking about the book she talked candidly about her career and how she thought it was all over for her when a second series of her Channel 4 show wasn’t picked up as promised. We all had a good laugh about how she got herself out of massive debt, thanks to doing promotional ads for bum wipes (yes you read that correctly). She talked openly about how she felt depressed when she thought her career was over, how uncomfortable and out of place she felt at Hollywood premiers and how she loved connecting with people on Twitter. She said she was immensely proud of the fact that whenever someone came up to talk to Chris they talked to him as if he was a bit star, but when they talked to her they talked as if they knew her. Something I would have no trouble believing as she is so relatable and endearing you wouldn’t have any trouble going up to her.
I really enjoyed her talk and I think it’s a shame there wasn’t a bigger audience there, although perhaps it’s because it was such an intimate setting that she really opened up and laid it all bare. She also hung around to sign books after the event and very generously left an open packet of crisps on the desk for fans to help themselves to. She greeted everyone as if she had known them all their lives and I would say if there was anyone who walked in and wasn’t a fan, they certainly were when they left.
Originally published on Krank.ie here