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Announcing the Novel Fair 2017 finalists January 30 2017

Announcing the Novel Fair 2017 finalists –

as selected by judges Anthony Glavin, John MacKenna & Nadine O'Regan

Twelve aspiring novelists have been selected from almost 260 applicants to participate in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2017, an annual Irish Writers Centre initiative which will take place on Saturday 18 February 2017.

Now in its sixth year, the event aims to introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.

The judging panel, who have remained anonymous up until today, can now be revealed as writer and editor Anthony Glavin, playwright and novelist John MacKenna and writer, producer and broadcaster, Nadine O'Regan.

Congratulations to this year's winners who have been named as:

 

Patricia Byrne
Dominique Cleary
Georgina Eddison
Jennifer Hall
Fidelma Kelly
Enda Kilroy
Mary Lennon
Sean Mackel
Fintan O'Higgins
Paul Quaid
Sian Quill
Mark Tuthill

 

There is a diverse range of genres across the novels including literary fiction, science fiction, crime, YA and dystopian fiction and a psychological thriller. The 2017 finalists are also skilled in other forms of writing with a poet, a journalist and a memoir writer in the mix and a former winner who will be trying his luck a second time round at the Fair.  

Ahead of the Fair, the finalists will take part in a Prep Day on Saturday 4 February to hone their skills, practise their pitches and gain expert advice from this year’s judging panel, while former winner Kevin Curran who has released two novels since his win, Citizens and Beatsploitation (Liberties Press), will be offering a winner’s insight.

This is the third year where a longlist of twelve applicants will have their work critiqued, extending the prizes from 12 to 24 winners. The following names will receive individual critiques: 

 

  • David Atcheson
  • Megan Brebner
  • Abigail Browne
  • Frances Haysman Burke
  • Eileen Counihan
  • Edward Field
  • Daniel Fleming
  • Emer Hoare
  • Bernadette Kearns         
  • Veronica Lynch
  • Gráinne Murphy
  • Anne Rabbitt  

       

      We would like to thank each and every applicant for entering and we wish all aspiring novelists the very best in continuing their writing. 

       

       

      About the Fair:

      The Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair presents a unique opportunity to gain face time with some of the most influential people in Irish publishing and has the potential to kick-start a literary career for each year’s winners.

      This year’s Fair will welcome representatives from the Irish and UK publishing industries including Penguin Ireland, Hachette Ireland, Transworld Ireland, New Island, The Book Bureau, Tramp Press, Marianne Gunne O’Connor Literary Agency, Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, Lisa Richards Agency and, for the first time, Tinder Press.  

      A dozen publishing deals have arisen from the Fair since its inception. Listed below are details of just some of the various publications and success stories to date that have arisen through the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair:

      • Janet E. Cameron’s novel Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World was published by Hachette in March 2013.
      • Niamh Boyce’s novel The Herbalist was published by Penguin Ireland in June 2013 and is on the longlist for IMPAC 2015.
      • Beatsploitation by Kevin Curran was published by Liberties Press in August 2013 and Kevin released his second novel Citizens to great success in 2016.
      • Alan Timmons’ novel Here In No Place was released by New Island in September 2013.
      • The Reluctant Cannibal by Ian Flitcroft was published by Legend Press in October 2013.
      • Daniel Seery’s novel A Model Partnerwas published by Liberties Press in spring 2014.
      • Susan Lanigan’s White Feathers was published by Brandon in 2014.
      • Liberties Press published Eggshells by Caitriona Lally in May 2015.  
      • Andrea Carter's novel Whitewater Church was published by Constable & Robinson (Little, Brown Book Group) in September 2015. 
      • Swimming on Dry Land by Helen Blackhurst was published by Seren in November 2015.

      And we are eagerly awaiting more updates from former winners!


      Announcing the Jack Harte Bursary recipient for 2017 December 13 2016

      Henrietta McKervey & Jack Harte Last week we were delighted to award Henrietta McKervey the Jack Harte Bursary at a celebratory evening with IWC members and friends, on Thursday 8 December at the Irish Writers Centre. This is the third year of the Bursary which is presented in association with Annaghmakerrig at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and offers writers a two-week fully resourced residency in spring 2017. The award was named in Jack Harte's honour as the unsung hero of the literary scene; he has been instrumental in the establishment of the Irish Writers' Union and, later, the Irish Writers Centre. Liz Nugent was the first recipient of the award in 2015 and Sarah Moore Fitzgerald was the 2016 recipient.

      Henrietta McKervey is a fiction writer and design and advertising copywriter. She has published two novels: What Becomes of Us (Hachette, 2015) and The Heart of Everything (Hachette, 2016). She has a MFA in Creative Writing from UCD and has been described by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne as:

      ‘a novelist in the early stages of her career, brimming over with promise. She has wit, imagination, and an understanding of human beings, which are the hallmark of the true novelist. In addition she has the drive and perseverance every serious writer needs.’

      On receipt of the bursary Henrietta commented:

      'The Jack Harte Bursary will have a huge impact for me as an individual – the time and space to work on a book without the demands of what passes for ordinary life getting in the way is a wonderful opportunity. But what I think makes this award particularly special is that it’s not created as an acknowledgment of previous work; a book already written. Instead, every year the IWC makes an investment in a new project, something as yet unwritten (or at the very least, unfinished). It seems to me that the world generally has come to lack faith in the power of ideas. That the IWC continues to show its faith in the future of writing in Ireland, in the importance of continuing creativity and ideas, is what makes this award special.'


      Beyond words November 28 2016

      Recently we were thrilled to launch our 25th anniversary anthology, Beyond the Centre: Writers in their own words, at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast on 16 November. We were even more delighted when Carlo Gébler agreed to help us launch the anthology, little did we know that his speech would be a tribute not only to the Centre — but to the writers who comprise such a vital part of it. Read on for Carlo's full speech.

      Carlo Gébler launching Beyond the Centre at the Crescent Arts Centre"In 1978 the New Review, literary magazine, English, held a symposium on the state of fiction: 56 writers supplied replies to a questionnaire.   The respondents varied in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties and they gave very different but very detailed replies. Peter Vansittart (1920 – 2008), 1st published novel 1942, 688 copies sold, described himself as, ‘fairly hopeful’ about being a writer. Auberon Waugh, son of Evelyn, confessed he’d eschewed the novel in 1972, when his 5th had earned him £600 on the grounds, and I quote, ‘it is not possible to bring up a young family of four on this sort of earning, and it is not possible to hold down any sort of regular journalistic engagement if one is to take three months off every year to write a novel’. You should be so lucky some perhaps thought, then, and even now.

      Jeremy Brooks revealed his last novel Smith as Hero (1964), took three years to write, enjoyed good reviews, but only earned £1200 in total, so he gave up fiction for journalism. Francis King, sometime British Council employee, revealed that in order to support himself and novel writing: he worked as a reader for Weidenfeld & Nicolson, wrote a weekly fiction round-up for the Sunday Telegraph, a television column for the Listener, and took lodgers in to his house in Brighton with meals, which he cooked himself, included in the rent. Penelope Fitzgerald described how the managing director of Duckworth, Colin Haycroft wondered if an advance of £200 on her first novel The Golden Child (1977) was acceptable to which she replied, to him, ‘No, but I haven’t the courage to say no.’

      So that was Albion. Thirty years later, different polity, we find, when we read Beyond the Centre, this marvellous collection of essays about literary culture now, and particularly Catherine Phil McCarthy, Jack Harte and Peter Sirr’s essays, those challenges as politicians would doubtless call them, encountered by writers, well, they haven’t gone away, have they? As several of the writers whose work is contained herein testify it is difficult, very difficult to make a living as a writer. Or, to put it another way, there simply ain’t enough cake to go round: not for writers, and not for the Irish Writers Centre either.  This gruesome economic truth runs through the essays in this collection like Bundoran runs through a stick of Bundoran rock. And by the way, yes, I bought some Bundoran rock recently and I know of what I speak. 

      Now: These essays aren’t only about economics of course. This is an eclectic collection. The contributors have chosen to approach their brief from many different angles, not just the financial one and the book is the stronger for its breadth but it is, if any in power chose to read it, a bracing read because what would be born in on them is that the rewards for making literature are meagre. However, this is not artefact simply of complaint. There are complaints, yes, and the Irish state, its political elite and its arts bureaucrats get a quite a roasting, and fair enough, but this is also emphatically a book that celebrates collaboration, communal activity, solidarity between like minded souls and describes what people have done by pulling together.

      Orwell wrote a marvellous essay on Dickens. It was inside the collection Inside the Whale. I love Orwell and in this essay I was particularly captivated by this, which I think Lisa McInerney, because of her contribution on culture and class in this collection, might particularly like:

      ‘If you hate violence and don’t believe in politics, the only major remedy remaining is education.  Perhaps society is past praying for, but there's always hope for the individual human being, if you can catch him young enough. This belief partly accounts for Dickens preoccupation with childhood.’

      I personally don’t believe in violence and I despair of politics and our politicians, so all I have left is education.  That is, actually, all I believe in and that is indeed, in the widest sense what the Irish Writers Centre offers, as these essays also attest.  You’re probably now thinking, What’s he talking about, the classes, the courses?  Well, yes and no.  They are educational and they are a core part of the Centres activities. The Irish Writers Centre has helped writing by teaching people to write better and in the process has helped writers by employing them to teach people to write better. Hooray. But I’m not talking about just that kind of educational endeavour, the pedagogical variety. 

      So am I talking about the huge number of happenings, events, readings, and the way the Centre has acted as an impresario for cultural activity, literary mostly, and that is in and off it self a jolly good thing. Again, yes and no. These are great. They introduce to readers writers and the work of writers they might not know. Fabulous. What’s not to like? And it is educational.

      But the kind of education I’m talking about is the wider, deeper, fuller variety, the kind that raises consciousness, the kind that transforms actual thinking patterns and enables thereby, what hasn’t been thought before to be thought and then enacted, put in to practice, actualised.

      And the basis and enabler of this consciousness raising is the utterly unpredictable but incredibly liberating, stimulating intellectual miscegenation that occurs by virtue of the Centre being a centre. Because it’s a centre people go to it. They bring ideas, literatures, attitudes, habits and social practices. They meet other people, talk, interact, blah blah, and all this psychic material gets mixed up, and then it gets churned around and then it gets broken down and then and then it reforms in to something not previously considered or imagined and then hey presto something new has arrived. This has been going on since the Centre started. Obviously a lot of what’s been made is written but there’s a lot more than texts made there and, moreover, we can name these things. The list is long, I’ll just list a few examples (don’t take it personally if you’re left out) the Liffey Project, the Bloomsday thingamajig, the Dublin Writers Festival, the UNESCO designation of Dublin as a ‘City of Literature, and a host of trade or industrial organizations and bodies. Other bodies were involved but the Centre was of some service in the case of these and more and these are the kind of educational outcomes that I believe in. I believe in things, programmes, rituals, whatever, that go out in to the world and change it for the better as all of the things that have come out of the Centre have done and I believe these things in turn, have an educational remit because they, in turn, all raise consciousness. You see, I have a thesis. There is a virtuous circle.

      The world, at the moment, is not a happy place. We live in a mad world and we, writers, artists, what ever you want to call us, we have a job. Our job, to paraphrase Mencken is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, or so I believe, and we do that by raising consciousness also in what ever way we can and the Centre’s function is, in every way, to enable that, and it has, and it does. It’s been doing it brilliantly for the last quarter century, as the essays attest, and I believe there is every certainty, given the people in charge, Valerie Bistany et al, I believe that there is every certainty that it will continue to fulfil this vital function. And in that endeavour it will certainly have my absolute and unqualified support."

      Carlo Gébler
      Wednesday, 16 November 2016
      Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

      Beyond the Centre: Writers in their own words is available now from New Island Books, just in time for Christmas!


      Irish Writers Centre launches Northern Ireland Programme November 16 2016

      IWC Northern Ireland Courses

      Image: Pictured at the programme launch are: Valerie Bistany, Irish Writers Centre, Damian Smyth, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and writers Jack Harte and Martin Devlin.

      The Irish Writers Centre (IWC), with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funding, is extending its programming into Northern Ireland with a series of specialized courses and residentials in Belfast, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone. The prestigious Dublin-based institution is also offering 20 free professional memberships to local writers. 

      The IWC, which supports and promotes writers at all stages of their development, announced the details at a special event, hosted at the Crescent Arts Centre, on Wednesday evening.

      The information session was attended by writers from across Northern Ireland and provided an in-depth look at the services and resources that the Centre can offer emerging and professional writers, such as workshops, networking opportunities and training courses.

      Upcoming events include, Mindshift: The Connected Writer at The Crescent Arts Centre on 19th November, an event for writers wishing to raise their public profile. While crime fiction writer Declan Burke will be hosting a writing course at Ranfurly House on 3rd December, revealing the critical elements needed to create a memorable mystery.

      Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

      “The Irish Writers Centre is already a flagship resource for writers across the island of Ireland, providing quality training and development opportunities for those at all stages of their career. It’s first dedicated programme of workshops, training days and residencies will stretch to venues across Northern Ireland, with opportunities for writers of all disciplines to get involved.”

      Valerie Bistany, Director of the Irish Writers Centre, commented:

      "The Irish Writers Centre is delighted, with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s support, to offer a bespoke literary programme for Northern writers, with a specific emphasis on professional development.   We are inviting Northern writers to connect and engage with us, and form part of an all-island writers' community.

      “To that end, we are offering professional Northern Irish writers 20 free memberships for 2017 on a first-come first-serve basis (pending eligibility), two dedicated Cill Rialaig residencies and a subsidy scheme to avail our mentoring scheme. Sign up for our newsletter for information on how to apply."

      The Irish Writers Centre is a national resource for literature. It runs a diverse programme of writing courses and workshops led by established writers across a range of forms and genres, including screen-writing, memoir, poetry, playwriting, short-stories and the novel. In addition, the Centre offers a variety of seminars, lectures, events and readings all related to the art of writing and has welcomed many award-winning writers through its doors, including Nobel, Costa, Man Booker & IMPAC winners.  


      Humans of No. 19 - June Caldwell September 15 2016



      Humans of No 19 - June CaldwellJune Caldwell
      was in the Centre this week so we took the opportunity to chat with her about the moral elements of writing. #humansofno19 #writersofinstagram #irishwriterscentre

      June is our inaugural Online Writer-in-Residence so stay tuned for more from her. And, we're thrilled to announce the exciting news that June has just signed with New Island for a short story collection, due 2017. Whoop!  

      'For years I thought I chose the wrong path because I was never happy with journalism, I hated it. Now I look back and I think that was really great grounding for my writing. To me creative writing is a moral form, it’s a way to look at the connection between human behaviour, events and how we perceive things. That’s what is so interesting about creative writing compared to journalism; you’re limited by what you can do in journalism, you’re only writing the facts but with creative writing you can take it a lot further. You can try and understand what the hell is going on in someone’s head and you can recreate the events around that, the drama which might give you a sense of horror, completion or whatever. My stories tend to have some kind of social element to them and they have a journalistic twist because the journalist in me is still so strong. I’ll take some of the facts, make them surreal in some way and play around with them. I think creative writing is way more powerful than journalism, I really do. You can find a new way to present the truth.'

       


      Novel Fair: an opportunity worth travelling 5,000 kms for! August 23 2016


      With the deadline for Novel Fair 2017 approaching we spoke to Mairéad Rooneyall the way from Canadato get some inside tips! A two-time Novel Fair winner Mairéad chatted about her writing process and whether her experience of the Fair changed the second time around.

       Tell us about when you first came across the Novel Fair…

      In 2012 I had just finished my novel and had reached the what-next moment. So I submitted to the 2012 Novel Fair and a few literary agents. But there were no bites. As it turned out the manuscript was not ready and the only thing to do was edit. I spent a year reworking the words and then submitted to the 2013 Novel Fair. That time I was lucky and got the call.

      • What was your writing process/routine for the first Fair?

      At the time I was writing first thing in the morning. And if some days I could not write, I read around the subject of writing. Though a lot of time, I didn’t do either! When I got the call from the Novel Fair in 2013, it was a real boost and, in preparation, I concentrated on editing the first 10,000 words.

      • What was it like to receive the call telling you that your submission was successful?

      Getting the call was great, a tiny taste of success! The manuscript was finished so there was no mad rush.

      • You’ve participated in two Novel Fairs so can we assume you enjoyed the first time so much that you came back for round 2?!

      I don't know if enjoy is the right word! Both Novel Fairs were a bit nerve-wrecking. But they are a unique opportunity for a writer to have a one-to-one conversation with several agents and publishers – and all in one day!

      • You travelled from Canada for the Novel Fair this time. Did you plan to participate in the Fair again whilst you were living there or was it a last minute decision?

      I wrote my second novel in Canada which took me three years. When it was finished I submitted it for the 2016 Novel Fair, but without any expectations. I just threw my hat in the ring.

      • As a writer, what have you gained from the experience?

      The first time I ever sat with an agent or a publisher was at the Novel Fair. A lot of the agents/publishers shared their thoughts on the current market, and also on what types of novels they were seeking. Some made a comment, negative or positive, on my pitch/CV/story so all of that is useful for the future of my writing.

      • What advice would you give to a writer hoping to submit their work for the fair?

      Work on the manuscript. Edit, edit, and edit again. Then pray for a bit of luck. Lots of luck! 


      I Am Dublin: For the birds by Gavin Corbett April 07 2016

      Our flash fiction competition 'I am Dublin' during the Five Lamps Festival showcased emerging writers and established writers including Gavin Corbett & Paula McGrath.

      We have shared the winning entries on our blog and are delighted to be able to share the stories of Paula and Gavin with you as well. Below is Gavin's story.  

       I Am Dublin  Gavin Corbett

       

      For the birds 
      Gavin Corbett

      I’m a romantic, I suppose. I like the shine of the granite and I like the stories. I like BTs’ bed linen for the softness, that’s my indulgence, and I like that I’ll never see the inside of Fitzwilliam Square. I’m a Dublin man. I used to believe that one day Maura’s ring would turn up. Every little squit of doo-doo I’d look for that diamond. The other week, even, in Marks’s rooftop café, I was sitting there with my coffee and my pastry, and a seagull was knocking on the glass, trying to get to me. He was trying to say something. You’re the little gurrier, I said.

      I used to believe the ring would just turn up, that’s the truth. Maybe I still do. There’s hope yet, and there’s always hope. It can happen. Things turn up. Some drugs turned up in my shore once, flushed down from Mountjoy prison. But as I say, I’m a romantic, and that’s just foul. But I got a reward.

      No; I said to Pat once, your sister will come back to me one day, and it’ll be her ring. That’s how she’ll come back. ‘Yeah,’ he said, and I changed the subject, or so Pat thought. I spoke about seagulls. Pat thinks I’m a weirdo. He’s from Dungarvan, like Maura was, all the Roches; – culchies.

      I said there were so many seagulls in the city, that they lived their whole lives here without ever going to sea. Why do you think that is, I said? I said I’d heard it was because of the smell of fish in the air.

      Pat said, ‘Fish? But there’s no fish in Dublin. There’s not  even a fishmonger. It’s because of the rubbish is all it is. Dublin’s filthy. The seagulls love the dirt.’

      But then I heard there was fish in Guinness. And isn’t the air of Dublin saturated with Guinness? Can’t I smell it when the barley’s roasting? And I’m a human, I have a bad sense of smell. Can you imagine what a seagull smells?

      I say I heard this but I was actually reading it in an article. They were writing about it because Diageo are taking the fish out of Guinness.  Vegetarians putting pressure on Diageo. Diageo, I tell you. Vegetarians. Good night, I said.


      I Am Dublin by Paula McGrath April 05 2016

      During the Five Lamps Festival the Irish Writers Centre hosted a flash fiction competition 'I am Dublin' which showcased emerging writers along with some established writers including Paula McGrath and Gavin Corbett.

      We have shared the winning entries on our blog and are delighted to be able to share the stories of Paula and Gavin with you as well. Below is Paula's story.  

       

      I Am Dublin Paula McGrath

      I Am Dublin
      Paula McGrath

      From up here, says the bird, it is a city like any other, concrete brick machines glass, a river, a port. And look, over there, on the crest of the bridge, a boy.

      From up here, says the boy, it is a port like any other, filled with ships containers warehouses cranes. But it is not any other, it is Dublin. This bridge is Samuel Beckett, and the grey green river is called the Liffey. I asked when I first came.

       My English is better now. I make it a game to pass the time. Too much time. I watched the others, closing in, closing down. Down time, free time, free run.

      Missing my playground—obstacle course of rubble and scree, a scramble through buildings unfinished or bombed, king of the castle atop roofs of burned out cars—I cracked open the hostel window, crept out along the ledge, dropped to the balcony then the roof below, across the abyss with a leap.

      Leap of foot, fleet of foot, leap of faith, this is the game I play. From scaffold, to ancient city wall, to excavation where Luas will run, I run. Parkour, in an other language. Government building iron rail is my tightrope; I balance; I am outside, I am in. Tonight, the boardwalk, Liffey wall, swing on string of Samuel Beckett's harp, to my lookout, my crow's nest. This is where I have come to think about another city, ruined and racked and full of broken things. Tomorrow, in government buildings, I learn which city is mine.

      But it grows light. Tomorrow is already here. I grip the rods, manoeuvre to the curve, then slide, and drop to the metal path below, to bollard, to bench, to grey canal bridge, then I leap. In that space, between take-off and landing, I unmake and remake myself; I live, and breathe, and sigh.

      From up here, says the bird, it is a boy, not like any other, from up here, he looks like he can fly.


      I Am Dublin: The Last Gig by Fionnuala O'Connor March 31 2016

      I Am Dublin Fionnuala O'Connor

      Our final winning entry for the I Am Dublin flash fiction competition was submitted by Fionnuala O’Connor. She has been writing short stories since the 1980s albeit with a gap of about fifteen years. She was born in Dublin and has lived there most of her life, moving in 2004 to Bray.

      The Last Gig
      Fionnuala O'Connor

       

      Dermot takes his saxophone out of its case. It is as beautiful as ever. He hasn’t played for  a year, since before he came here.

      He puts it to his lips .

      This audience looks unresponsive, slumped in their seats, and some asleep even. He’s played a fair few weddings in his time where half the guests were comatose before the band came on. The South City Jazz Band it was called. Originally Jimmy wanted “The Jimmy Devlin Jazz Quintet” but that got shot down pretty quick. Jimmy liked to think of it as “his” band even though he was only the vocalist. The rest of them would have to put him in his box. Dermot used to say to him

      “Get back in your cage Jimmy you’re only a canary”

      Still, to be fair to him, it was Jimmy who got them together in the first place and he organised most of their gigs.

      A woman shouts “stop that noise!”

      They got a bit of heckling in the old days too, played some rowdy Pubs . Jimmy could give as good as he got. One time some young gougers started throwing things and big Dan had to come out from behind his drums.

      That was before they got a bit of a name for themselves. They had quite a following..

      Yes he knows they weren’t masters of jazz, just a bunch of Dublin lads playing in their spare time. Some Music Journalist, as he called himself, once had a go at them for being “not authentic”. Well who’s to say what’s authentic? They loved the music and they played it as well as they could so feck him anyway.

      Dermot pauses, then tries Summertime, always popular.

      His fingers feel clumsy and slow.

      Something is not right. Is it him or the instrument? The tone is wrong. Maybe it’s just that he misses having the others around him.

      The old woman shouts again.

      He stops. He puts the sax down.

      “Just out of practice” he says to himself.

      Carefully he places the saxophone back in its case, walks out of  the big room with his head down, past the carers and the nurse who had encouraged him to perform today.

      He won’t be taking it out again.


      I Am Dublin: Killing JB by Laurence Keogh March 29 2016

      I Am Dublin Flash Fiction  Laurence Keogh

       

      The recent I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition was a great success with wonderful talent being showcased. In our third instalment of winning entries you can read Laurence Keogh's entry Killing JB below. Laurence Keogh has lived in Dublin most of his life and is fascinated by its history. He works in marketing and the last book he read was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

      Killing JB
      Laurence Keogh
      On an afternoon in spring, I saw John Banville coming out of the Mark’s and Spenser’s on Liffey Street. I am a great admirer of his work. I followed him down the street. I didn’t do this with the intention of killing him. Not straight away, in any case. I planned to work up to that, having first allayed his suspicions by means of some literary conversation.
             
      He  wasn’t carrying a bag. But he was carrying something. He walked quickly in the direction of the river. He wasn’t smaller in real life. This was real life; he was the same height as Bono. When I’d got closer to him - outside the adventure sports shop – I saw that he was carrying a wedge of parmesan cheese. I have a great enthusiasm for this cheese. Banville had gone into M&S for parmesan, and that’s what he had come out with. He’d  been single-minded in his errand, undistracted by marinated artichokes, say, or even prosciutto. He held the cheese now in his hand,  the palm facing downwards, the way an american footballer might hold the ball. 
          

      I was close enough now – we had stopped at the pedestrian crossing on Abbey Street – to see that his parmesan was of the superior sort.  It had that rough, unhewn underside that holds a oily sheen. It would be a pleasure to grate such a cheese, to see it melt onto pasta. It would have that aroma of rich fruit cake. There would be a crunch as your teeth met those tiny deposits of salt crystals in its interior.

      Towards the end of his life, the playwright  Moliere ate nothing but Parmesan.  He believed it had miraculous health-giving qualities; his deathbed was covered in it. The story was a literary one - but too grim to use as an opening conversational gambit. As we approached the Ha’penny Bridge, however, I remembered a particular village mentioned in the Decameron. It is a vision of paradise. Here, says Boccaccio, there is a mountain consisting entirely of grated parmesan. The villagers do nothing but make macaroni. They cook it in chicken stock. They roll it down the mountain so it’s well coated in cheese. And then they eat it.   I turned to Banville as the countdown to the green pedestrian lights began. I smiled. I nodded towards the cheese.

      ‘So, John’, I said, ‘what’s the plan for the Parmesan?’. 


      I Am Dublin: Joy by Sinead Flynn March 24 2016 2 Comments

      I Am Dublin Flash Fiction

      Sinead Flynn

      In the second post of our showcase of the I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition winners we have the pleasure of reading Sinead Flynn's winning entry. From County Meath, Sinéad has enjoyed living in Phibsborough for the past few years. She teaches singing, drama and English language to a variety of wonderful people. Apart from writing Sinéad loves mythology and animals – especially dogs.

      Joy
      Sinead Flynn

      Mick surveyed the anxious faces of his three children with the most disapproving grimace he could muster.

      ‘Lads I’m very disappointed in ye.’

      Katie and Shane lowered their heads while Keith stared wide eyed at the two guards standing to his left.

      ‘How many times have I said Mrs O’Reilly’s garden is out of bounds for ye and that bloody dog? Look at the trouble you’ve caused…’

      ‘But Da we didn’t kick the ball in on purpose. Mrs O’Reilly has it in for us!’ Shane protested.

      ‘But you shouldn’t have gone in without permission. You should’ve rung her doorbell.’

      ‘Yeah but…’ Katie had made several attempts to argue their case but the small, grey room and the presence of the guards made her tongue-tied.

      ‘No buts! Ye didn’t have permission and why the hell was Max running free? You know the rules. He has to be tied or on the lead.’

      ‘He wanted to play football too!’ Keith piped up.

      ‘Really? I never knew dogs could talk! When did he tell yis this?’

      ‘Da’, Katie steadied herself, ‘It was an accident. We can fix up the flowerbeds and pay for the clothes Max chewed with our pocket money.’

      ‘Your pocket money? You’ll be lucky to get anymore of that! And what about Mrs O?  She’s furious! She said if she sees Max again she’ll have him taken away.’

      ‘No Da’, Keith sobbed.

      Katie wanted to run home to protect Max but she knew the doors were locked and she’d never get past the woman at the front desk.

      Shane always the calmest shook his head. ‘Da it won’t happen again. We’ll be careful with Max from now on. We’ll say sorry to Mrs O’Reilly. I still have Christmas money so I’ll give it to her for the clothes.’

      ‘Good man yourself! Be polite with the aul bat. And tell Max not to be goin’ near aul women’s underwear in future!’

      They all laughed. With that a guard stepped forward. ‘Visiting time is over’.

      ‘Okay guard. Right lads…’

      Mick stared at each of them. ‘See ye soon.’

      He stepped forward but his handcuffs got in the way of a hug. ‘Love ye lads… and lassie’, he winked at Katie. ‘Take care, be good’.

      ‘Bye Da.’

      ‘Bye.’

      ‘See ya soon Da’.

      They waved as two guards led Mick back to his cell.


      I Am Dublin: Liffey. If He. Dares by Louise Cole March 22 2016

      I Am Dublin Flash Fiction  Louise Cole

      Following the success of our recent showcase of the I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition with Five Lamps Festival we will be posting each of the four winning entries here for the enjoyment of all. 

      Entrants were encouraged to channel their inner Anna Livia Plurabelle and to seek inspiration in the charm of our fair city – cracks and all. Our first author is Louise G. Cole, she  performs at the Word Corner Café in the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, and at pop up shows in the West with the Hermit Collective. She also blogs about writing. Read her winning entry below.

      Liffey. If He. Dares.

      Louise Cole

      I make him tremble. The thought of me: I have causality. He is drawn to me. Torn.

      More than a tremor.  A convulsive shudder and shake. Rock and roll. Slips and slides. Wants to hide. Looks up into the emptiness above, and then down, into my soul, the inviting deepness of me.

      Vulnerability bows those broad shoulders, venerable boulders. Hairy, leery atop the worn elbows of a charity shop find three winters ago.  Now, he quakes. Shivers. Shows respect for the force that I am.

      He doesn’t know I have herons upstream, grey and spike beaked, and herrings grey and quick finned down, streaming into the ocean. Screaming there on the Halfpenny Bridge, gulls and pigeons swoop hopefully low. He has no crumbs left, just a belly full of Costabucks caffeine threatening to reappear with the vodka naggin he quaffed in the gents, quickly and in secret for expediency of effect.

      And affected, he thinks not to change his mind. He might exchange it for someone else’s, some bright Trinity student with the world at his feet, disaffected youth with attitude.

      Only a vestigial self is his now.   Hardly anything remains as I slosh another wave of desperation over him.  A splash, a dash, a lash of brackish water, my best. His test: to take a deep breath and step into the unknown.

      Beyond is the constant hum of the Luas trammeling the city, black cabs crashing bus lanes, beggars asking for change in ten tongues, shoppers tossing litter in the gutters, nutters tripping sean nós for the tourists, blaggers posing for selfies with the selfish passing by. Passersby. They pass him by.

      Pulsing blue lights make this place take on the dark night, play the Dark Knight to his Marvel hero, marvellous heroics at my feet, Siren.

      Glad tidings, riptides, tidy, tied. Can you hear me calling him? All he has to do is step forward, tip forward. Jump, fly, soar, score.

      He can sleep in my bed forever and a day. Slide into the black mud, red blood flowing. Sink to my depths, I will welcome him here, caress the stress from that brow. Now.

      I will swallow his shallow salt lake of grief, his tears, his fears.

       Who cares? I do. I will take him to my heart, beating, fleeting, waiting. All he has to do is step my way. Just do it.


      Compass Lines: Days by Karl Whitney & Philip Terry March 21 2016

      Compass Lines #1 Days

      Compass Lines is a writers’ exchange project aiming to establish links between writers and communities in the North and South of Ireland, while additionally examining relationships between the East and West of these islands, through workshops, public discussions, and the commissioning of new collaborative writing.

      Compass Lines aims to encourage artistic fusion and integrate a sometimes fragmented audience, geographically and otherwise, through the strategy of combining writers with various concerns and backgrounds. Eschewing their comfort zones and usual patterns of working presents a diversion and a challenge to the writers, and a way of instigating discussions about ideas of process and place that reside in contemporary writing and which are often ignored through traditional views of literature.

      Developed by poet, editor and curator Christodoulos Makris in collaboration with the Irish Writers Centre as producing organisation, and with the participation of the Crescent Arts Centre as partner venue, Compass Lines will comprise a series of enterprises, alternately in Dublin and in Belfast, each with the participation of two writers – one with connections to the north of Ireland and one to the south.

      Each enterprise consists of three strands, community connection, discussion and new writing which will be specially developed collaborative pieces involving pairs of writers associated with the north and south of Ireland. The first Compass Lines event was on Wednesday 2 March 2016, the first in this series of collaborative pieces is available below.

      Days
      Karl Whitney & Philip Terry

      Days travelling to Ennis.

      Beefsteak days.

      Days coming events cast their shadows over.

      Days when you buy a new pet.

      Days walking in Tolleymore.

      Days wondering whose thoughts you’re chewing.

      Days when you feel as if you had been eaten and spewed.

      Days when you bury a pet in the garden.

      Days eating orangepeels.

      Nights walking home from the 49N.

      Nights lit sharply by the moon’s glow.

      Some nights you remember, and others you forget. I remember:

      Nights, restless nights, spent wheezing ‘til dawn.

      Afternoons cycling along the tow-path.

      Afternoons making kits.

      Afternoons fretsawing.

      Afternoons when you believe others’ eyes.

      Afternoons watching cartoons after school.

      Afternoons following lessons mechanically.

      Afternoons walking vaguely through Spanish streets.

      Afternoons when you arrive back at Aldergrove Airport, and it is raining.

      Hours spent listening to David Bowie records.

      Moments watching The Man Who Fell To Earth.

      Moments daydreaming in class, gazing out the window, then being brought back to earth by an incomprehensible question.

      Moments when you wonder how you got here and where you’re going.

      Moments when you realise your coach leaves in an hour for some scrubland desert town.

      Moments choosing what to eat at the ‘Say When’ casino in McDermitt, Nevada.

      Those moments of possibility that show themselves while writing, or reading, or talking.

      Moments dancing with your girlfriend in the kitchen.

      Moments that surprise you with their intensity.

      Moments hoovering: losing oneself, zen-like in the task.

      Moments when you can’t remember if you locked the front door.

      Days when you can’t remember what day it is.

      Days when you still can’t remember what day it is.

      Days when you no longer care what day it is.

      Days filled with thoughts of other days.

      Hours sitting at a desk in an office: typing, transcribing, redrafting.

      Lunch hours when it’s raining out and you sit there with a sandwich, reading Species of Spaces.

      Hours without conversation when you’re kept going by the anxious thrum of your thoughts.

      Hours awake (there are more of these).

      Hours asleep (fewer).

      Hours between flights at Chicago O’Hare. You can see the city’s skyline, but don’t have enough time to reach it.

      Hours when you have to be somewhere.

      Hours when you don’t.

      Nights when you spend more time awake than you do asleep.

      Afternoons when you’re tired from lack of sleep.

      Mornings when you wake to find a cow’s head poking through your window.

      Mornings when you wake to find a horse’s head next to you in bed.

      Mornings watching Homes Under the Hammer.

      Mornings wasted.

      Mornings cycling along the seafront.

      Mornings sitting on buses, in traffic, watching pedestrians overtake you.

      Mornings are like nights, but brighter; in fact, they’re more like days, light-wise.

      But mornings can be dark during winter, that’s true.

      Moments when things happen quickly.

      Moments when time stands still.

      Moments thinking up titles of essays you’ll never write, like “Joyce or U2?”

      Moments when you notice the rifle trained on your car.

      Dull afternoons at the Bibliothèque Nationale lit by the desk lamps’ glow.

      Afternoons at the cinema.

      Afternoons reading.

      Afternoons writing.

      Afternoons doing nothing.

      Nights in Norway when it doesn’t look like night.

      Bloomsnights.

      Hours spent walking around Dublin while Molly’s with yer man.

      Hours tapped out on the clocks around the city. Who winds them?

      Hours before you’ll be back in Eccles Street. You may as well have a sandwich.

      Hours watching the Liffey ebb in and out, a throwaway little remarked upon.

      Hours writing letters to your aunt, asking questions about the city you left.

      The hours you’ve spent on this stretch of the North Circular Road, which lacks a tram service.

      Hours you spent thinking, Bloom.

      Hours you spent writing Bloom.

      Hours walking the streets of Dublin on an empty stomach.

      Hours surrounded by coffined thoughts.

      Hours walking barefoot on the strand.

      Hours in Trieste listening to the babble.

      Mornings listening to the soft flop of porter gushing in the pub cellar.

      Moments with your nose whiteflattened against the window pane.

      Moments remembering the voices of the dead.

      Days of rage.

      Days when you look at the rising waters and think: this can’t last.

      Days walking down Broadway.

      Days when you sit on the slow train, looking out across the Meadowlands.

      Days spent talking about the 1960s.

      Days when you can’t tell wrong from right.

      Days you spend as a maths teacher in New Mexico thinking about the Weather Underground.

      Afternoons when you put everything off until the following morning.

      Hours spent catching up with what you put off yesterday afternoon.

      Hours you wasted trying to think of what to write next.

      Hours that you can’t account for. What happened between the

      Hours of ten and eleven on the morning of the twenty-seventh of February 2013?

      Hours that you spent playing guitar.

      Hours copying cassettes at double speed on a hi-fi.

      Hours spent reading the NME.

      Hours browsing through racks of CDs and piles of records.

      Hours clearing the attic, throwing out the stuff you accumulated over the years.

      Days listening to Joy Division.

      Days listening to Warsaw because you’ve run out of Joy Division.

      Days listening for signs of Joy Division in New Order.

      Mornings when the wind whips wheelie bins along the road.

      Mornings when you should have left the house ten minutes ago.

      Mornings when your ears are ringing from last night’s gig.

      Mornings when the afternoon creeps up on you.

      Mornings when the night stays with you, as you piece together your half-remembered dreams.

      Mornings spent avoiding the news.

      Mornings watching oddly scheduled American sitcoms.

      Mornings when the streets are empty and the city seems uninhabited.

      Moments you have met before in a dream.

      Moments spent thinking of things you’d like to have done, but can no longer do, like visit Seamus Heaney or go drinking with Brendan Behan.

      Moments soaking conkers in vinegar to try and make them tougher.

      Moments when you find out that soaking conkers in vinegar is pretty useless.

      Moments when you swim without armbands for the first time.

      Nights in the summer that never really get dark.

      Nights when you watch the blinking lights of aircraft circling the city.

      Nights worrying if the bogeyman is going to come and get you.

      Afternoons when you’re anxious about your deadline.

      Hours at airports, anxiously waiting for your flight.

      Hours wasted.

      Hours when you wish you hadn’t stayed up all night.

      Lost hours.

      Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours that you can’t account for.

      Mornings: routine, unconsciously timetabled.

      Mornings when you wake up feeling old.

      Mornings that make you think of other mornings.

      Mornings grinding coffee, making porridge, taking vitamins.

      Mornings when routine collapses, and you’re resigned to being late, so you have another cup of coffee.

      Days on the wagon.

      Lobster days.

      Days when my father returns from a trip to Dublin with Bewley’s fudge.

      Last days.

      Days chasing ghosts.

      About the Authors:

      Philip Terry is currently Director of the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Essex. Among his books are the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, the edited story collection Ovid Metamorphosed, a translation of Raymond Queneau’s last book of poems Elementary Morality, and the poetry volumes Oulipoems,Oulipoems 2, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, andAdvanced Immorality. His novel tapestry was shortlisted for the 2013 Goldsmith’s Prize. Dante’s Inferno, which relocates Dante’s action to current day Essex, was published in 2014, as well as a translation of Georges Perec’s I Remember.

      Karl Whitney is a writer of non-fiction whose first book, Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin was published by Penguin in 2014. In 2013 he received the John Heygate award for travel writing. He has a BA in English and History from University College Dublin, an MA in Modernism from University of East Anglia, and a PhD in History from University College Dublin. He is a Research Associate at the UCD Humanities Institute.


      Special Discounted Rate on Selected Courses February 10 2016 1 Comment

       

      Irish Writers Centre

       

      Latecomers! 

      If you've missed out on joining a Spring 2016 course, it's not too late to sign up and the course will be discounted accordingly. Offer available for a limited time only. 

      Although the courses in question have already begun, the course facilitators are confident that those joining in late will be able to catch up on any class work missed. The courses being offered at discounted rates are as follows:

      This is a great opportunity to catch-up without breaking the bank. Those interested should contact the Centre on 01-8721302 or email info@writerscentre.ie 

      The discount rates are based on how many sessions have been missed. Students will be unable to join courses after the third session. 


      Announcing the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 finalists February 01 2016 1 Comment

      Announcing the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 finalists –

      as selected by judges Anthony Glavin, Martina Devlin & Margaret Hayes

      Twelve aspiring novelists have been selected from almost 275 applicants to participate in the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016, an annual Irish Writers Centre initiative which will take place on Saturday 20 February.

      Now in its fifth year, the event aims to introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.

      The judging panel, who have remained anonymous up until today, can now be revealed as writer and editor Anthony Glavin, writer and journalist Martina Devlin and Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian.

      Congratulations to this year's winners who have been named as:

       

      Alex Reece Abbott

      Breda Joy

      James Martyn Joyce

      Julianne Knowles

      Eoin Lane

      Orla McAlinden

      Elizabeth McSkeane

      E.A. O'Donovan

      Lana O'Farrell

      Fiona O'Rourke

      R.M. Clarke

      Mairead Rooney

       

      There is a diverse range of genres across the novels including literary fiction, historical fiction, crime and dystopian fiction. The 2016 finalists will be travelling from every compass direction; including a UK resident and a former winner who will be trying her luck second time round and making her way from Toronto, Canada.  

      Ahead of the Fair, the finalists will take part in a Prep Day on Saturday 6 February to hone their skills, practise their pitches and gain expert advice from this year’s judging panel, and former winner Kevin Curran who has just released his second novel Citizens (Liberties Press, 2016) will be offering a winner’s insight.

      This is the second year where a longlist of twelve applicants will have their work critiqued, extending the prizes from 12 to 24 winners. The following names will receive individual critiques: 

       

      • Guy Le Jeune     
      • Jane Cassidy    
      • Majella Cullinane  
      • Seán Farrell    
      • Teresa King       
      • Dawn Lowe       
      • Marie Lynch      
      • Eamon Mag Uidhir    
      • Gillian Nash       
      • Anne O'Leary    
      • Jean O'Sullivan    
      • Cathriona Slammon   

         

        We would like to thank each and every applicant for entering and we wish all aspiring novelists the very best in continuing their writing. 

        Greenbean Novel Fair

         

         

        About the Fair:

        In 2015, Greenbean Coffee Roasters came on board as title sponsors of the Fair, with the Irish Times as media sponsors. The Greenbean Novel Fair presents a unique opportunity to gain face time with some of the most influential people in Irish publishing and has the potential to kick-start a literary career for each year’s winners.

        This year’s Fair will welcome representatives from the Irish and UK publishing industries (Penguin Ireland, Hachette Ireland, Transworld Ireland, New Island, O’Brien Press/Brandon, Liberties Press, The Book Bureau, Poolbeg/Ward River, Tramp Press, Marianne Gunne O’Connor Literary Agency, Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, Lisa Richards Agency, Feldstein Agency) and, for the first time, will invite New York based agent Regal Hoffmann & Associates.  

        Listed below are details of the various publications and success stories to date that have arisen through the Greenbean (formerly Irish Writers Centre) Novel Fair:

        • Janet E. Cameron’s novel Cinnamon Toast and the End of the Worldwas published by Hachette in March 2013.
        • Niamh Boyce’s novel The Herbalistwas published by Penguin Ireland in June 2013 and is on the longlist for IMPAC 2015.
        • Beatsploitation by Kevin Curran was published by Liberties Press in August 2013 and Kevin has just released his second novel Citizens.
        • Alan Timmons’ novel Here In No Placewas released by New Island in September 2013.
        • The Reluctant Cannibal by Ian Flitcroft was published by Legend Press in October 2013.
        • Daniel Seery’s novel A Model Partnerwas published by Liberties Press in spring 2014.
        • Susan Lanigan’s White Feathers was published by Brandon in 2014.
        • Liberties Press published Eggshells by Caitriona Lally in May 2015.  
        • Andrea Carter's novel Whitewater Church was published by Constable & Robinson (Little, Brown Book Group) in September 2015. 
        • Swimming on Dry Land by Helen Blackhurst was published by Seren in November 2015.

        And we are eagerly awaiting more updates from former winners!

         


        President Michael D.Higgins visits IWC | 25th Anniversary Celebrations January 14 2016

        On Wednesday 13 January 2016 we welcomed the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, in recognition of his patronage which marked the beginning of our 25th year celebrations.    

        President Higgins IWCWriters and IWC Ambassadors, Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and Joseph O'Connor read for the President, as well as Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, the recipient of this year's Jack Harte Bursary Award. Musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire debuted his beautiful composition Solasta to a packed room of writers and distinguished guests – and wowed us all. The President addressed attendees with a speech that ranged in content from Bowie and Hot Press to Descartes and civil society...

        President Higgins outlined how the Centre is not just a haven but a vortex of creativity:

        'In the hallways and stairwells of this old house, frameworks of novels, opening paragraphs of stories, and geneses of poems have been inspired and created. A considerable number may have been completed but perhaps the finest are still in gestation.'

        We couldn't have wished for a better start to our 25th anniversary celebrations. 

        A full transcript of the President's speech is available on our Patron page >>>

          Plaque    Valerie Bistany and President Higgins              

         


        In memory of Brian Friel, RIP October 02 2015

        Brian Friel

        – a playwright who gave voice to the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit


        The Irish Writers Centre is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brian Friel. Known as one of the greatest Irish playwrights of our times and renowned for Philadelphia, Here I ComeTranslations and Dancing at Lughnasa, Friel proved himself to be a versatile writer who was skilled at adaptations and penned two fine short story collections.

        His impact has extended beyond the realm of writing, both at home and abroad. While Friel succeeded in bringing the realities of life in rural Ireland to a worldwide audience and placed contemporary Irish theatre at the forefront of international playwriting, he was also instrumental in addressing issues such as identity, language, migration and culture, and gave voice to those on the margins. His works showed the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit and their enduring legacy are as relevant as ever today.

        Brian was known to be generous in spirit and was especially supportive to other writers showing them a genuine kindness. His generosity was enriched with a great sense of humour. 

        The loss of this unrivalled playwright will reverberate across nations and down through the generations. Our most sincere condolences to Brian’s family and friends. 

         ‘Brian Friel’s plays gave expression to the perennial conundrums of Irish life and identity by holding up a mirror to ourselves with a wit and acumen that made us laugh and cry, and wonder what the future will hold. He is a huge loss and will be sadly missed.’

        Valerie Bistany, Director of the Irish Writers Centre

         ‘Brian Friel was a foremost writer of his generation. His influence is enormous and his kindness to writers, particularly emerging writers, has been invaluable. May he rest in peace.’

        Liz McManus, Chairperson of the Board of the Irish Writers Centre

        Brian Friel

        Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 3. Dave Lordan September 16 2015

        The ever popular Dave Lordan is facilitating two courses this autumn at the Irish Writers Centre. The first, Teaching Creative writing, is a practical, intensive course in how and why to teach creative writing in a variety of contexts. The other, Strange Times, Strange Tellers: Experimental Fictioncovers the techniques of formally innovative writers such as Calvino, Cortázar, and Joyce, and movements such as beats, oulipo, surrealist... We caught up with Dave to discuss his own reading and writing, among other subjects. 
        Dave Lordan
        Irish Writers Centre: What have you been reading over the summer?

        Dave Lordan: Johnathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel, and, most enjoyable of all, the mediaeval Japanese epic poem The Tale of The Heike.

        IWC: What do you need to be able to write?

        DL: A target.

        IWC: Who is your favourite living writer?

        DL: Eamonn McCann.

        IWC: What was your favourite book as a child?

        DL: 5000 Interesting Facts.

        IWC: What upcoming book are you most looking forward to reading?

        DL: Johnathan Franzen's Purity, which I will be review on RTÉ Arena on Monday 21 September.

        IWC: If you could work in any other field besides your own, what would it be?

        DL: Forest Management.

        IWC: What literary magazines/journals do you follow? 

        DL: I read many, but follow none!  


        = = =

        Dave Lordan is the author of the experimental fiction collection First Book of Frags and is editor of the Young Irelanders fiction anthology. An experienced and popular teacher he has led and designed numerous successful workshops.

        Book here for Teaching Creative writing with Dave Lordan >>>

        Book here for Strange Times, Strange Tellers: Experimental Fiction with Dave Lordan>>>


        Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 2. Nessa O'Mahony September 14 2015


        We caught up with poet and creative facilitator Nessa O'Mahony as she prepares to teach her Finding Your Form course here at the Irish Writers Centre. Nessa was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into her reading and creative habits, among other subjects. Places on Finding Your Form are filling up fast, so book now to avoid disappointment.

        Irish Writers Centre: When did you start to write?

        Nessa O'Mahony: Well, if you don't count the poems in the school magazine, I’d turned 30, would you believe. My parents gave me a birthday present of a creative writing course; I wonder would they have thought twice about that gift had they known I’d ultimately give up full-time, pensionable employment in order to be a full-time writer. I hope not.

        IWC: Who is your favourite living writer?

        NM: That’s a very hard question to answer. There are writers whose new books I delight in reading, and new writers whose work I’m delighted to discover. But if you do force my hand, Louise Gluck’s poetry is always thrilling, as is Richard Ford’s prose, and Robert Holmes writes the best biographies I’ve come across.

        IWC: What do you use to write ?

        NM: I have a notebook and an iPhone for first drafts or phrases or images or scraps of anything that might be turned into a poem. I began my novel on the laptop and have kept it going there, though trying not to edit myself as I go along. I’m a great believer in allowing the first draft its full reign before going in with the scalpel, though one has to be brutal when that edit stage happens.

        IWC: If you could work in any other field besides your own, what would it be?

        NM: I’d love to be a dog whispering antiques shop-owner.

        ====

        Nessa O’Mahony has published four books, Bar Talk (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009) and Her Father’s Daughter (2014).

        Book here for Finding Your Form with Nessa O'Mahony>>>

         


        Announcing Our New Patron President Michael D. Higgins & Our Six Ambassadors September 08 2015

        We are delighted to announce that President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has kindly agreed to become the Patron of the Irish Writers Centre

        The President will visit the Centre on 13 January 2016, marking what promises to be a memorable inaugural event in our 25th anniversary celebration year. 

        We are also thrilled to welcome six new Ambassadors who will act to promote and endorse the Irish Writers Centre over the next three years. They are all key literary figures in Irish literature selected across a range of disciplines and we look forward to working with them in furthering the aims and ambitions of the Irish Writers Centre both at home and abroad. 

        The Irish Writers Centre Ambassadors are: John Banville, Anne Enright, Roy Foster, Marian Keyes, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Joseph O'Connor.  

        We've been keeping this news under wraps for a while, so now you're in on our amazing secret!  

        Irish Writers Centre Patron

        President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

         

        Irish Writers Centre Ambassadors

        John Banville

        John Banville Irish Writers CentreWilliam John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. After college John worked as a clerk for Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, before joining The Irish Press as a sub-editor in 1969. Continuing with journalism for over thirty years, John was Literary Editor at The Irish Times from 1988 to 1999. John’s first book, Long Lankin, a collection of short stories and a novella, was published in 1970. His first novel, Nightspawn, came out in 1971. In 2005, John won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea. In 2011 he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. In 2013, John was awarded the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature.

        Anne Enright

        Anne Enright Irish Writers CentreAnne Enright has published novels, short stories, essays, and one non-fiction book. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She has also won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2001 Encore Award and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year. Anne Enright is the first Laureate for Irish Fiction, a post she currently holds. Anne’s writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland's difficult past and its modern zeitgeist.

        Roy Foster

        Roy Foster Irish Writers Centre AmbassadorR.F. Foster is an Irish historian and academic. He is the Carroll Builders Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford in the UK. Originally from Waterford he won a scholarship to attend St. Andrew's School for a year before reading history at Trinity College, Dublin where he was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. by Trinity College.
        Foster is the editor of The Oxford History of Ireland (1989) and author of Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 (1988) as well as several books of essays. More recently, Foster has produced a much acclaimed two part biography of William Butler Yeats which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and also collaborated with Fintan Cullen on a National Portrait Gallery exhibition, 'Conquering England: the Irish in Victorian London'. In 2000 Foster was a judge in the Man Booker Prize.

        Marian Keyes

        Marian Keyes Irish Writers Centre AmbassadorMarian Keyes was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire. She published her first novel Watermelon in 1995 and it was an immediate, runaway success. Its chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour appealed to all age groups, and this appeal spread to Britain when Watermelon was picked as a Fresh Talent book. Other countries followed (most notably the US in 1997) and Marian is now published in thirty-three languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book award for popular fiction.

         

        Éilís Ní Dhuibhne  

        Eilis Ni Dhuibhne Irish Writers CentreÉilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of UCD. Éilís studied at UCD, for almost ten years. She focused on literature and narrative studies, studying Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a Ph D in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.
        Her first book was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English. She was elected to Aosdána, the Irish Association of Artists, in 2004.


        Joseph O’Connor

        Joseph O'Connor Irish Writers Centre AmbassadorJoseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls, Ghost Light and The Thrill of it All, as well as two collections of short stories, True Believers and Where Have You Been? In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. In December 2011, he received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin. He received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. His latest novel is The Thrill of it All, published in May 2014 by Harvill Secker.
        In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.


        Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 1. Conor Kostick August 25 2015


        We caught up with novelist Conor Kostick as he prepares to begin teaching his Finish your Novel course here at the Irish Writers Centre. Over tea and biscuits in the Centre's library, Conor discussed his summer reading, his favourite childhood book and his preference for print over ebooks. 

        Irish Writers Centre: What have you been reading over the summer?

        Conor Kostick: I've been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I can hardly put it down  best three euro I've ever spent! Everyone says Dickens is a great novelist, but when I read him 20 or 30 years ago I couldn't really see it. He is very different to Austen and Tolstoy in his willingness to push the form and structure of the novel.

        IWC: What do you need most in order to be able to write?

        CK: Time is the most important thing for me. Writing is not a gift, it’s a craft. The more you read and write the stronger your technical skills become.

        IWC: For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional print books?

        CK: I prefer print. I do have a Kindle, but I find it a little bit harder to sink into the world of the book when reading from the screen.

        IWC: What was your favourite book as a child?

        CK: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

         

        Conor Kostick is the author of a number of successful books. In 2009, Conor was presented with a Special Merit Award by the Reading Association of Ireland; in 2010 he was the Farmleigh Writer-in-Residence. Conor was president of the Irish jury for the EU Prize for Literature, 2015.

        Book here for Finish Your Novel with Conor Kostick >>>.

        Conor is also available for One-to-One Mentoring

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        Expect to e-meet lots more of our facilitators over the coming weeks. 

         


        Announcing the recipients of the Irish Writers Centre / Cill Rialaig residencies July 06 2015

        In case you're not signed up to our newsletter (it's never too late to do so: click & scroll down!), we've announced the seven lucky recipients of our Cill Rialaig residencies which will take place over 10 days in October this year: 

         

        - Andrea Carter

        - Anthony Glavin 

        - Catherine Dunne

        - Lia Mills 

        - Louise Phillips

        - Maria McManus 

        - Seán Hardie

         

        We're delighted to be partnering with Cill Rialaig for the first time and congratulations to all seven writers.

        Cill Rialaig is going to be humming with heavyweight literary activity this autumn. Watch this space!

         

         


        Top picks at this year's International Literature Festival Dublin – 3. Donal Ryan May 13 2015

        Day 3 of our festival picks series and Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart and The Thing about December, tells us who he's most looking forward to seeing:  
         
        'Irvine Welsh is one of my favourite writers of all time. I mention him at nearly every talk I do, as one of my influences and sometimes as part of my defence of writing in the demotic – when a defence is necessary. Irvine Welsh ends all arguments.' 
         

         

        Donal is one of the panelists at our Second Book Syndrome event which takes place on Thursday 21 May.

        Broadcaster Pat Kenny will be interviewing Donal, along with Kathleen MacMahon and Liz McManus about the challenges of writing that second novel. We'll be listening out for that Irvine Welsh reference on the night!

        Click on the link for more information and booking details on Second Book Syndrome – a must for readers and writers!

         


        Top picks at this year's International Literature Festival Dublin – 2. Kathleen MacMahon May 12 2015

        It's Day 2 of International Literature Festival Dublin highlights and today it's the turn of Kathleen MacMahon who told us what she's most looking forward to:  

        Jon Ronson in conversation – my new novel The Long Hot Summer (out 21 May) features a politician who finds himself at the centre of a social media storm, so I'll be fascinated to hear Jon Ronson's take on politics and social media.

        - Dermot Bolger and Christine Dwyer Hickey in conversation – I'm also looking forward to seeing these two authors in action. They're both authors of books I have absolutely loved. 

        - Deirdre Madden, Eoin McNamee & Selina Guinness: Irish Short Stories – I'm a huge fan of Eoin McNamee so I will interested in hearing him talk short stories with Deirdre Madden and Selina Guinness.

        - - - - - - - 

        Kathleen is one of the panelists at our Second Book Syndrome event which takes place on Thursday 21 May. Broadcaster Pat Kenny will be interviewing Kathleen, along with Donal Ryan and Liz McManus about the challenges of writing that second novel. 

        Click on the link for more information and booking details on Second Book Syndrome – a must for readers and writers!

         

        Kathleen MacMahon ILFD    Second Book Syndrome