Sinéad Gleeson is a prize-winning Irish author whose 2019 essay collection Constellations: Reflections From Life won an Irish Book Award and was later shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, one of Scotland’s top literary awards. In 2022 she collaborated with Kim Gordon, guitarist with cult America band Sonic Youth, to co-edit This Woman’s Work, a book of essay on music written by women. This month sees the publication of her debut novel, Hagstone, set among a community of women on a rugged island which is home to reclusive artist Nell.

What’s the last book you read?

I just read egg/shell the latest collection of poetry by Irish writer Victoria Kennefick and it’s incredible. The poems deal with infertility and miscarriage, as well as the transition of Kennefick’s ex-husband. It’s an extraordinarily moving, experimental and hopeful all at once.

Recommend a novel …

The best book I read last year was Kathryn Scanlon’s Kick The Latch, a novel based on the true story of a female horse trainer. Sharp, dark and brilliant.

What’s the last film you saw in a cinema?

The Zone Of Interest, which is utterly chilling in the way it reveals how people can become so du-humanized to the suffering of others. It’s an essential watch, especially with the current ongoing horror being inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

What music are you currently listening to a lot?

There’s a brilliant wave of contemporary folk music happening in Ireland, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Lankum, Oxn, Lisa O’Neill and Poor Creature.

What musical instrument(s) do you wish you could play?

Not the most portable instrument, but I’ve always had a weird obsession with wanting to learn to play the xylophone. I love its sound.

What have you seen recently that you think was completely over-rated?

Opinions are ridiculously subjective so when something feels over-rated, there will always be people who don’t share that view. It’s hard enough to make anything creative, so I always to try to see what someone attempted to do with an album/book/TV show, even if it’s not for me.

The Herald: Sinéad GleesonSinéad Gleeson (Image: free)

What has been your most formative cultural experience?

Reading as a teenager and spending all my money on records led to me working as a music journalist and later a writer. It’s a rare thing to make your hobby into your job, but I have been lucky enough to do this.

What’s your go-to YouTube video?

*Always* Ships in storms, massive waves, sea rescues, container ships. This is no surprise if you read Hagstone.

What haven’t you managed to get around to yet but will when you have the time?

I’ve never seen The West Wing, so a US election year feels like a good year to fix that. But at least I’ve seen The Sopranos and The Wire, which a friend recently confessed – to a horrified me - that they hadn’t watched either.

What was the most memorable recent theatre show or exhibition you saw?

I am a long-time admirer of the performance artist Marina Abramovic and interviewed her last year ahead of her Royal Academy show in London. The exhibition was a huge retrospective of her career, and it was fascinating to see some pieces in person that I’ve been thinking about and looking at for years.

Favourite film?

For story, soundtrack and performances, I’ll go with Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.

Who or what do you always turn off?

Reality TV shows were not made for me (except The Traitors, which is epic).

Who’s your favourite artist and why?

Too hard to pick one. Leonora Carrington. Maggi Hambling. Dora Maar. Alice Maher. Aideen Barry. Amanda Coogan. Lezley Saar. Frida Kahlo. Jo Spence.

Favourite living author?

A classic Sophie’s Choice question, and one that can change, but I’ll go with Annie Ernaux.

You’re in a station or airport shop ahead of a journey. What magazine do you grab?

Sight & Sound. The writing about film in there is next level. Yes, everyone on the internet is a reviewer, but considered, in-depth film criticism is a rarity, and when it’s done well is a joy to read.

Favourite actor?

I would watch Maxine Peake in absolutely anything, and next month she’s starring in Robin/Red/Breast on stage in Manchester. It’s based on a 1970 BBC Play For Today and is dark, folk horror story. I loved the original and this is one (because of Peake) not to be missed.

Favourite song?

For today, I’ll say Let’s Dance by David Bowie.

Favourite band?

Lately, it’s Irish singer and all-round queen CMAT.

Recommend an album …

The Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush is a perfect album and unbelievably, turns 40 next year. Even though it’s full of her chart hits (Hounds Of Love, Running Up That Hill, Cloudbusting) I love it for the B-side song-cycle, known as The Ninth Wave.

If you’re a fan of graphic novels, what’s the best one you’ve ever read and why?

I’m a huge fan of Lizzy Stewart and adored her last book Alison, about an artist trying to make her way in the world.

Recommend a box-set …

I’ve just binged Ripley which is stunningly shot, moodily noir and has a phenomenal central performance by Andrew Scott.

Recommend a podcast …

Ian Lynch’s Fire Draw Near about the history of Irish folk songs. I’ve learned so much from it.

The Beatles or The Stones?

The Beatles, with maybe The Stones from 1968-1972.

James Joyce or Samuel Beckett?

Both, but at different times, depending on the mood.

Vinyl or MP3?

Vinyl forever.

Hagstone by Sinéad Gleeson is out now (4th Estate, £16.99)