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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!


      The Novel Fair Reject's Tale October 17 2016

      As the Novel Fair deadline approaches (21 October 2016), we went back through our winners' stories and were reminded of the old adage, 'if at first you don't succeed...' This week we hear from Aidan J. Herron and how he went from Novel Fair longlistee to sitting across from publishers and agents just two years later... 

      There was no going back once I dropped my entry into the postbox. I was committed. Writing for educational purposes, familiar territory to me, was one thing. Entering an open competition like the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2013 was quite another.

      I had never submitted my work to anybody for comment before nor was I part of a writersgroup so I had no idea of what others would think of it. But I believed in my story. And I also had some small belief in my own ability. A few months later, to my utter surprise, my nom de plume appeared on the Novel Fair long list. I read and re-read the IWC email, convinced that someone else must have used the same pen name. But the book title was mine: The Awakening.No mistake then. I began to believe.

      A couple of weeks later, the winners were announced. My pseudonym wasnt listed this time. I read and re-read that IWC email too, amazed at my feelings. Disappointment! Dismay! A bit of slow-burning resentment even. Not at the judges, let me quickly add, but at myself. I had come close...but not close enough! It was good...but not good enough.

      My family, a keen bunch of readers, had been encouraging me but didn’t realise the extent of what this meant to me. My Beloved Daughter was amused when I eventually told her, and perhaps she was a little proud at my even getting as far as the long list. But inside, I was gutted. Stung even, at not making the grade. I decided not to take it lying down.

      I took a break before returning to the rejected manuscript and read it with fresh eyes. How unsophisticated and underdeveloped, I thought. The judges were right! It lacked fizz and sparkle, and a plot that crackled. So I returned to it with a renewed sense of purpose. I tore the whole thing apart, ruthlessly analysing it from every aspect. I revamped the plot, plot layers and subplots, dumping themes and threads that I once had thought were brilliant; whole chapters that had added little to its progress went into the trash, even though they had been meticulously researched and crafted. I eliminated several characters and invented new ones; I spiced up the dialogue, introducing menace and suspense. And I became bloody-minded - I loved my characters but they had to be made to suffer and bleed. My main (male) protagonist was joined by a female associate who brought whole new dimensions to the storylines. They developed a dark side, (I was exploring my own at the same time), so that they became more unpredictable and less dependable, flawed and imperfect. I introduced a killer opening that would grab the reader and make them spill their tea; and carefully paced the action to a dramatic climax, when theyd spill their tea again. Well, thats what I was trying to do.

      And then, two years later, I approached that postbox again. I entered the IWC Novel Fair 2015 with The Obsidium, my totally reworked book. The fact that my Beloved Daughter had by now taken up employment in the IWC was a complication, though she wasnt involved with the competition judging process at all.

      Aidan J HerronHowever, this was easily addressed by simply not telling her that I was rewriting the novel in the first place, and then by submitting my entry once more - under a different nom de plume. When it would be discounted, I reasoned, she would never have known that I had entered in the first place, and my fragile paternal dignity would be intact. That year, ‘The Obsidium’ was one of the twelve winning entries. My stubborn persistence at the keyboard had paid off, my fragile paternal dignity remained intact and my creative ego received a serious boost, thanks to the IWC Novel Fair.                                                            

      Oh, and I’m still writing.  

      (c) Aidan J Herron, 17 October 2016

      Aidan J Herron, a winner of the 2015 Novel Fair, has gone on to publish a novel about the Battle of Waterloo, entitled To the Beat of a Savage Drum, and is a regular contributor to The Skerries News 


      On the fair treatment of writers... October 11 2016

      In light of recent social media attention, the Irish Writers Centre would like to reaffirm that, as a resource and development organisation for writers at all stages of their career, it seeks to support, promote and inform writers through its programmes. While we support writers on broad issues of advocacy (such as fee rates), we would generally advise writers to approach the Irish Writers' Union (whose specific remit it is) to advocate on their behalf.

      Therefore we fully endorse the statement made by Ruth Hegarty of Publishing Ireland in The Irish Times (11 October 2016), where she says:

      'We would encourage any writer who is experiencing difficulties with their respective publishers to approach the Irish Writers’ Union for help.'

      'All authors are entitled to royalty schedules and payments if in their contract.'

      We believe that it is in the interests of the literary community at large that the basic principle of fair treatment as regards payment to writers is respected and upheld.

      In regard to our own publishing initiative, the Novel Fair, the criteria in regard to submission, selection and invitation to publishers is reviewed annually and is amended at our own discretion, and as necessary.

      From the Irish Writers Centre Team


      Novel Fair: Walking on Eggshells October 06 2016


      Catriona Lally

      The deadline for Novel Fair 2017 is a mere two weeks away. With that in mind Catriona Lally reflects on her experiences of the Fair and how her novel Eggshells developed as a result of this.

      It was at a launch at the Irish Writers Centre and I just happened to see a poster for the Novel Fair. I looked it up and thought that it would be a brilliant deadline; a novel can be the kind of thing that just sits on your computer for years. I really need some kind of structure and deadline to get anything done, so aiming for October and then for February to have it finished was fantastic. 

      Mid-October is the deadline to submit the novel and you then have three months to complete it so that you’re ready for the Fair in February. My thinking was – worst case scenario I wouldn’t get picked but I would still have a completed novel that I could send out to publishers myself.

      But then, after being selected as a finalist, we had a prep day two weeks before the Fair, and it was just brilliant to get feedback from the judges about what had worked, what was strong/weak but, in particular, on how to pitch the novel. That was the hard part for me, I really struggled to sum up the novel. ‘Where does your novel sit on the shelf?’ was the question that threw me the most as the agents and publishers want to know very quickly what’s your story and what your book is really about. They also want to know your influences as well, who your favourite writers are, etc. so they can see where you might fit in. 

      Within each breakout group the other writers would try and come up with a sentence or two to help with your pitch, and the camaraderie was lovely. At this stage you’re all in it together and our novels were all so different. In my group there were two crime novels and another literary fiction novel so it really does seem that the Novel Fair has this nice mix of genres.

      A previous winner, Kevin Curran, came along to the prep day and told us what to expect which was helpful in pointing out things that I hadn’t thought about. I was focused on writing the novel and hadn’t thought beyond that! We were also encouraged to think about longevity. Publishers and agents want to know if you have something else in the pipeline and Kevin had all of us warned that on the day most people would probably ask ‘what’s next?’. Even if you haven’t started writing it, you’re encouraged to tell them what you’re working on next.

      The prep day was practical as well. Sarah Davis-Goff, one of the judges, asked us how much we thought the average debut author’s advance was. We’re all thinking in the tens of thousands and she reveals it’s more like €1,000. There were gasps from people. That was helpful to hear; there’s often talk about massive author deals but you have to think realistically – maybe don’t give up the day job just yet!

      Exhilarating is probably the best word to describe the Fair. It can be exhausting because you’re ‘on’ the whole time – it’s your baby that you’re selling – and it’s intense too. I was very nervous for the first pitch but once it’s over you think ‘oh, okay’ and you see that the publishers and agents are humans too!

      Some of them were very honest and said that my book wouldn’t suit their list fairly early in the conversation which is great – you don’t want to be led on. Most importantly the agents and publishers are simply interested in books, so even if the novel doesn’t suit them you can still chat away about literature and writing.


      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! 


      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!