My Weekend: With author and illustrator Flora Delargy

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The best time to get up on the weekend is?

Right now the best time to get up is when my five month old decides it’s time to get up. Usually around 7:30 a.m. During the week, when I’m working on my children’s books, I tend to sit at my desk around 10 a.m. and often work in the evening when I’m most productive. Some days that means researching and writing the text for a non-fiction book and the next day I might be working on the artwork. I also enjoy visiting schools and talking to kids about my first book, Rescuing Titanic. It’s really gratifying to see the enthusiasm they often have for Titanic and also their enjoyment of reading.

Breakfast or brunch?
Weekday breakfasts involve a bowl of Special K and a cup of pressed coffee while my baby rolls around. On weekends we chill upstairs a bit and then a breakfast of granola or porridge for me and my husband. Maybe fried eggs on toast if you want.

What does an ideal Saturday look like?
I used to love going to a morning yoga class in the Cathedral Quarter at the weekend, but these days we enjoy a walk along the Lagan towpath with the pram and a 5A coffee . One of the best things about living in Stranmillis is the proximity to fantastic hiking trails, practically on our doorstep. From there we could head into town for a shopping spree and have lunch at Sawers. Their sandwiches are to die for.

What would your perfect Sunday look like?
Again, probably doing something quite relaxed. You can sometimes find my husband and I playing balls on the brilliant outdoor tennis courts at Parc Ormeau. What we lack in skill, we make up for in enthusiasm.

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
Although I like to think of myself as an outdoor enthusiast, the reality is that I’m definitely more of an indoor person. I love going to the cinema, my favorite being the QFT, or spending the afternoon strolling through an art gallery. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much lately, first because of the pandemic and now because I’m busy with my baby.
I also enjoy spending time in Donegal. My extended family and I often head to Malin where we enjoy swimming in the sea at Culdaff Beach.

How have weekends changed with age?
I’ve never really been a party animal, even when I was a student. For me, a good night out would involve a few drinks at the Sunflower with friends and live music.

If you could eat anywhere in NI tonight, where would you go and why?
Deanes in Queens, where my husband and I held our wedding reception in 2016. We’ve been back several times since and each visit reminds us of what a special day it was.

What would you have?
Probably the sirloin steak. I don’t eat red meat at all, but I like to treat myself once in a while.

On weekends, you will always have time to…
Spending time with family. My husband works long hours during the week as a cancer doctor, so weekends are a great time to relax and spend time with our little girl. If the weather is nice, sometimes the three of us will go for a drive and stop somewhere nice to walk around and maybe grab a bite to eat.

Do you sometimes work weekends?
Yes. The nature of freelance work means that I often work quite intensely before a book’s deadline, but can then relax a bit after submitting material to my editor. I have recently taken up freelance illustration work which I have enjoyed immensely and would love to do more of. At the moment I’m also working on illustrations for my second children’s book and enjoy spending time experimenting with different materials to try and capture the mood and tone of the book. This is often the most enjoyable part of the process for me.

Who would you most like to go for a drink with and why?
There are a lot of people I haven’t seen in too long. I would love to catch up over a glass of wine or two with my old school friend, Yanwen, who now lives in Cornwall with her children and her husband Tom.

Are you a weekend cook?
I’m an ambitious cook but unfortunately I don’t have a fundamental skill or talent either. I love Italian food, but my attempts at making gnocchi ended up with soggy mashed potatoes. I like to make eggplant and mushroom risotto because you do well to ruin everything. I recently purchased a pasta maker and, to the amazement of many, produced surprisingly decent ravioli, so I’ll claim it as my specialty from now on.

Too tired to cook – what do you order to take away?
Anything from Bites of India on Ravenhill Road, especially Madras and Tarka Daal. I also love the curries at Bo Tree Kitchen on University Avenue.

Heading to the cinema? What are you going to see?
I love going to the cinema but I haven’t been there for a long time. I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies but I haven’t seen his last one yet, Licorice Pizza. I can’t wait to stream it when my baby gets into a sleep routine.

Stay in… what TV/streaming/catch-up programs are on the menu?
I recently discovered the Netflix series Better Call Saul and really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to start Breaking Bad after finishing it. If I’m feeling down I’ll stick with Stath Lets Flats. It’s hilarious and all the characters are so adorable.

What are you reading?
I appreciate Claire Keegan’s Foster and loved her recent short story Small Things Like These. His portrayals of Irish families and communities are so powerful and yet his writing style is so understated.

Bedtime is?
Our routine consists of trying to put our baby to sleep multiple times in his crib until we inevitably give up and watch Love Island together on the couch. Then we climb the staggered stairs to bed after 11 p.m.

Flora Delargy was one of six finalists last night for the Klaus Flugge Prize. Flora’s book, Rescuing Titanic, is an illustrated version of the true story of the RMS Carpathia, which changed course en route to help save survivors of the Titanic disaster. The winner will be announced on September 14

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