Six Questions with Author Mary Pat Hyland

Tough question, but describe your writings in 5 words:
Magic realism transforms everyday characters

What inspired you to become a writer:
My great aunt was a wonderful storyteller, the family seanchaí as the
Irish say. I loved how she could tell vivid tales with a few well-chosen
words. I read a lot in my youth, loved Edith Hamilton’s Mythology and sci
fi paperbacks. Then MAD magazine widened my scope to parody and humor. As
I grew older I was drawn to the works of Eudora Welty. I read her book The
Optimist’s Daughter just after my grandfather died, and it showed me how
you can make occurrences in everyday lives riveting. Later I worked as a
newspaper journalist for fifteen years and am grateful that it instilled
in me the habit of writing daily.

What is the Maeve Kenny series about:
It started out with Maeve, who was leading a charmed life in Manhattan and
had everything going for her. Then three unrelated incidents turned her
world upside down and she returned home to upstate New York to start her
life over. She befriends a quirky neighbor who’s a paraplegic and computer
whiz (with a penchant for hacking websites for fun). They develop a strong
bond with an Irish couple she knows back in New York, and the four share
some hilarious adventures and life-changing experiences together. There
are three books in the series. The second book follows the Irish couple
after they are given a winery in New York’s Finger Lakes to manage as a
wedding gift. Did I mention they know nothing about making wine? The third
book picks up where that one ends and throughout the series, the influence
of the internet on their lives becomes an important part of the story. In
2018 the series will be ten years old, and I’m thinking about adding a
fourth book to the series in honor of that milestone.

3/17 has got to be one of the best covers I stumbled upon, what’s this
book about:
I play guitar and sing with a traditional Irish band. For more than two
decades we’ve had gigs on March 17 (including an Italian restaurant each
year) and I found it fascinating to see how the celebration of Ireland’s
beloved saint has been skewed by Americans into bizarre traditions. Case
in point: what’s with wearing bobbing shamrocks on your head? It reminded
me of Dante’s Inferno and its nine levels of hell. I started jotting down
all the weird things I witnessed each year and correlated his ideas to
nine levels of St. Patrick’s Day revelry hell. The story follows four
traditional musicians on tour from Ireland who get lost in upstate New
York and end up experiencing those hellish levels. Warning: If you have a
strong aversion to corned beef and green beer, this book is not for you.

What other authors would you compare your writings to:
I approach my writing in the manner of Eudora Welty and Anne Tyler and
have been compared to Maeve Binchy. Some of my characters are reminiscent
of John Irving’s style. I would love to be compared someday to Flannery

What’s the plan for the rest of 2014:
Right now I’m editing my first collection of short stories for publication
this summer. There are eighteen tales in the collection, and though not
related, all are set in the Southern Tier of New York where I live. At the
same time, I am working on my seventh novel—a humorous look at classes in
modern American society. Hope to publish that before year’s end. Details
about all can be seen on my website, and my
facebook page,

Thank you, Chris, for the fun interview!

All of Mary Pat’s books can be found here:

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