Cathy Kelly's new book, "Once in a Lifetime," explores ancient Irish themes

Belfast-born and Dublin-raised ‘chick lit’ writer Cathy Kelly recently revealed a major inspiration in her writing: ancient Ireland.

Her first novel, “Woman to Woman” (1997) was an overnight sensation, and since then Kelly has written 11 novels about women and relationships that have popped up on bestseller lists all over the globe.

When she’s not busy writing her bestselling books, Kelly works as an ambassador for the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF and spends time with her partner and twin sons at her home in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Her latest book, “Once in a Lifetime,” is described by Kelly’s fellow Irish pop fiction writer, Marian Keyes, as: “Wise, warm, compassionate, full of characters that I loved and identified with, it’s like having a great gossip with your best friends. Her best book yet.”

In her new novel, Kelly explores new territory and writes about pre-Christian Celtic Ireland. The writer sat down with Reuters in Australia and told them that about her love of Ireland its past, and informed them that she plans incorporating more of ancient Ireland in her books.

“I love that stuff!” she said. “I loved writing Star’s character in my latest book. I’d written half the book and didn't like it and then she came to me. I love that pre-Christian era, it’s very powerful. I think we're ready to hear about it more too. Maybe the difference is with this global meltdown we are ready to look at something deeper.”

Economic meltdown or not, ancient Irish themes weave throughout Kelly’s writing, simply because she loves her country’s history.

“I love ancient Ireland, we’ve got a wonderful history and a wonderful culture. People say how can books set in Ireland work around the world, but I think I talk about things that work everywhere: life, relationships, grief, whatever. But, it’s lovely to have little things that are intrinsically Irish.”