Illustration by Fabio Vermelho

 Author Eimear McBride was born to Irish parents in Liverpool in 1976. Her debut novel, A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing (which took her merely six months to write) was published in 2013 and won serveral awards including the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and the Goldsmiths Prize. Her new novel, The Lesser Bohemians was published earlier this month by Faber. if you haven’t already got stuck into one or both of these novels, follow this link and do so. Hope you enjoy her brain map below.


Illustration by Tim Easley

1. Do you actively do anything to keep your brain healthy, and if so what?


2. What or who mentally stimulates your growth the most?

A bit of peace and quiet

3. If you could add or take away anything from your brain what would it be?

More memory, less anxiety.

Frontal Lobe

4. Are you more emotion or reason based when making decisions?

Reason makes the decisions once emotion has blown itself out.

5. In what situations have you learned the most about yourself?

I’ve never found myself mysterious. I’ve always had a pretty good idea of who I am. What to do about that has more usually been the problem.

6. Do you think you have to learn good judgement? (Are people inherently self destructive?)

Some people have to learn good judgement and I am one of those people. No one is inherently self-destructive, that’s just a skill you pick up along the way.

7. Do you have any daily or annual rituals? If so, are they personal to you or your family or are they related to your culture or religion?

Nothing interesting or unusual. I like a turkey dinner at Christmas, that’s about it.

8. Can you speak any other languages, and if so why that language?

I can speak lots of bits of lots of languages and none of them well, unfortunately.

9. If you could live inside of a book, which one would it be?

Anna Karenina

10. Are there particular books you find yourself buying for or lending to people close to you?

No, and I hate it when people insist on lending or buying me books that they think I should read. A recommendation is plenty. Reading should be a magpie pleasure. Once it becomes an obligation it loses all the fun.

11. Is it more important for you to speak or to be heard?

Be heard. Isn’t that the way with most women?

12. Do you think a time exists that is easiest to create? For instance, do you strike the muse or does the muse strike you?

No, you have to put the hours in and the more you work that particular muscle the easier it gets to continue. If I’d been waiting on the muse I’d still be waiting now.

13. Do you have an emotional state that you find it easier to create in?

I think a hangover is a good state to write in as the walls are very thin then…

14. Are there certain elements that you employ to set up the perfect mental space for creating? For example: Music/Food/Smells/Locations.

Nothing so external. I usually reread the previous day’s work and that helps me back into the flow.

15. Do you think you have to have an elevated ego to be an artist?

No, an all pervasive awareness of the utter futility of one’s own existence, work and achievements is far more useful.

Parietal Lobe

16. What smells do you most associate with your childhood?

Damp, dung and wild garlic at night.

17. If you could only live on five ingredients for the rest of the life, what would they be?

Potatoes, salt, butter, boiled milk and white wine.

18. Do you have spiritual needs and if so how do you nourish them?

I have no spiritual needs and I think spirituality is codswallop.

19. Do you have a place you go to, either physically or mentally, where you feel the most at peace?

No, there’ll be plenty of peace in the grave. Life is too short to waste looking for it before then.

20. Do you think that people need some form of discomfort to make art?

Yes, which why mindfulness is the death of art.

21. Are you more motivated by the promise of reward or the threat of punishment?

Neither. I don’t write for rewards -unless survival counts as a reward?- while threats tend to make me call people’s bluff, and even when it’s turned out not to be a bluff, I’ve never regretted it.

22. How much does your conscience/morals come into play when making decisions?

Quite a lot, probably not as much as it should though. But, in general, I think women should resist making any decisions based on a ‘guilty’ conscience as we’re usually reared to be in a constant state of it.

23. Do you ever experience your emotions in physical ways? If so, how?

I’m not a very emotional person so not really.

24. What is your least favourite physical sensation?

Dizziness, although I loved it as a child.

25. What is your favourite physical sensation?

Ah now…

Temporal Lobe

26. Do you think a person has to understand art in order to be able to appreciate it?

Some part of them has to understand some part of it but if, as an artist, you feel you have to offer a pre-emptive explanation then you are not much of an artist. Art without mystery is academia, isn’t it?

27. Do you connect more to the lyrics or music in songs (assuming a song has both!)?

It depends on how good the writing is and what kind of mood I’m in. Both, simultaneously is best.

28. What is your earliest memory?

Realising I could not remember anything before that exact moment and it being quite a shock.

29. If you got alzheimers or dementia what memory or memories would you be saddest to lose – or – which ones would cause the biggest loss of your personal identity?

I have no idea how to answer that question. Any loss of the self is terrible to its owner.

30. Do you expect happiness in your life?

No, the odd moment of it is very welcome though.

31. Do you feel like falling in love is a spiritual or chemical process?

I think it is both chemical and emotional. People call it spiritual when they are afraid to face how tenuous that connection is with another person and, therefore, how vulnerable they are in it.

32. Do you try and avoid feeling negative emotions or do you feel it is more constructive to experience your emotions fully?

I don’t think of emotions as positive or negative. There’s only what is or what is not. Suffering is never pleasant but some people or situations are worth suffering for and avoiding that pain is a negation of life and/or what love there was.

32. What flaws do you think you have when it comes to communicating with other people?

A marked preference for flippancy.

33. How do you deal with situations or individuals that fail to stimulate you creatively or emotionally? Do you avoid these situations/have a set of tools in which to navigate them?

I don’t look for that in people and there’s nothing wrong with being bored, as long as you don’t have to listen to stories about the spending habits of investment bankers.

34. What do you think your ex partners would say the hardest thing about loving you was?

An inability to concede defeat.

35. What are your biggest fears?

Not getting it all done in time.

Occipital Lobe

36.Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares? If so, what do you think they mean?

I have always had a lot of nightmares, mostly about drowning or strangers breaking into my house. Sadly, I think they are prosaic enough to be pretty self-explanatory.

37. If you have ever taken psychedelic drugs, did you have any interesting hallucinations on them? Do you feel changed from having taken them?

Yes. No and no.

38. Do you find your mood affected by different colour palettes?

Particular greens do me no good.

39. If you could live in a world where the aesthetic was controlled by a particular visual artist or film director, who would you choose?

Tarkovsky, any day. I am great lover of rusty pipes and footsteps in empty halls.

40. What’s the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen?

52% of the population of the UK take Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson seriously enough to vote for Brexit. I still can’t believe there are so many fools living on one land mass.

41. Have you ever seen something which you feel has directly resulted in certain elements of your personality today?

I have.

42. Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?

I think it would be bad luck to choose.

43. Do you feel like you surround yourself with the people who see you for who you really are?

Oh my God, why would you ever want to do that?


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