1. Sum up your novel in three words.
Tough, poignant, tender.
2. Where did the initial idea come from?
I literally wrote down the ten strongest memories I had from childhood into adulthood. While these were real-life experiences that had happened to me, or were stories I'd heard from my mother, the challenge was to reconstitute the memories as fully developed fictional stories.
3. How was the title chosen?
Shadowboxing is, of course, a form of training used by fighters, which is directly relevant to one of the stories in the collection, "The Lesson". But it is also symbolic of the relationship between the father, Mick Byrne, and his son, Michael - with the menacing father, Mick, shadowing his young son.
4. What’s your writing routine?
I have five children and I've had to keep odd hours over the years, but I do have a steady routine of writing early in the morning. I write best from about five in the morning until around eight, when the house comes to life. I cannot write at all of evening. Staying awake is hard enough.
5. Which book do you wish you’d written?
I'd be happy to write Per Pettersen's shopping list. He's my all time favourite writer - so maybe Out Stealing Horses.
6. What’s your favourite word in the English language?
7. Who’s your favourite fictional character?
Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird - he teaches not to judge through acts of humility.
8. What was your favourite book as a child?
The double act The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
9. What book are you recommending to everyone at the moment?
Per Pettersen's I Refuse.
10. What do books and reading mean to you?
Everything. I had a difficult time when I was a kid. Books were my anchor, my escape and my love - and remain so.
Shadowboxing by Tony Birch is out this week from Scribe for £8.99.