20 December, 2023
12 Emerging Writers Selected as the Winners of Novel Fair 2024
The Irish Writers Centre is delighted to announce that 12 emerging writers have been selected from 467 entrants to take part in Novel Fair 2024 on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 February 2024.
This marks the 12th year of the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair, an initiative which allows unpublished writers the opportunity to break through to the Irish, UK & international publishing world. Our 12 Novel Fair winners will pitch their work to top publishers and agents in a series of one-to-one meetings. The Novel Fair will take place over 2 days at IWC’s headquarters in Dublin on Friday 16 February and remotely on Saturday 17 February, thus allowing publishers, agents and finalists to participate from around the globe.
Since its inception in 2011, 33 Novel Fair winners have gone on to publish their debut novels as a direct result of the Novel Fair. This competition has been a life changing opportunity for writers across the island of Ireland and worldwide.
Thank you to our wonderful Novel Fair 2024 judges: Sharmilla Beezmohun, Eoin McHugh, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Susan Tomaselli who sifted through entries from all over the world to select 12 finalists.
Sharmilla had this to say about her experience judging Novel Fair 2024:
Being a judge for the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair was a great experience, with a wide range of quality writing taking me from fantasy worlds to gritty crime scenes, from detailed historical fiction to laugh-out-loud comedic novels – and more. The top twelve picks reflect this diversity and the overall excellence of the submissions. All the winning authors transport us through time and space with vivid descriptions of places past and present, whether set on the island of Ireland or beyond, whilst nuanced characterisation and well-constructed dialogue make us feel that we know the people we’re reading about. I really look forward to seeing each of these authors – and those who were runners-up or highly commended – develop and reach their fullest writing potential, and to buying their books in the future.
We wish the 12 winners the very best on their Novel Fair journey.
The twelve Novel Fair 2024 winners are:
Mia Döring writes fiction, essays and poetry. She is the author of the best-selling memoir Any Girl which was published in 2022. Her essays and fiction have been published in Ropes Literary Journal, The Bohemyth, Litro Magazine, The Irish Independent, Irish Country Magazine and RTE’s Sunday Miscellany’s recently published anthology. She lives by the sea in Dublin with her terrier Missy.
Juliet Faithfull is a Spanish-British-American writer who grew up in Brazil. She has published short stories in the Bellevue Review (2016) and Urbanus Magazine. Liar’s Dice, her first novel, was selected as a semi-finalist in the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Contest 2023 and won Grub Street’s Muse and the Marketplace First Page Clinic (2019). She was a Pauline Scheer Fellow at Grub Street’s Novel Incubator Program and has degrees from Harvard University and Smith College School of Social Work. She works as a tri-lingual psychotherapist and lives in Cambridge, MA with her two sons.
Edie May Hand is a writer and aspiring author from Meath. She studied English and History of Art at University College Dublin and will graduate from her MA in Creative Writing at Maynooth in the Spring. In 2016, her short story ‘Liminal Spaces’ was published in UCD LitSoc’s Caveat Lector and she was invited to read from her novel Dirtpickers at the Maynooth University Strategic Launch Plan 2023-2028 in October. She has been writing for over a decade now and hopes to make a career of it.
Sinéad Ingoldsby writes fiction and non-fiction, in English and Irish. Her essays have been broadcast on Sunday Miscellany and published in The Irish Times, BBC online, RTÉ Culture, The Detail, Meon Eile and Tuairisc. In 2022 Sinéad received an Arts Council/Irish Writers Centre (IWC) bursary. She was one of four Irish writers selected for the 2023 Lamplight International Residency Programme, a collaboration between IWC and Varuna, Australia’s National Writers’ House. Single White Fenian is Sinéad’s first novel. It was long (long) listed for the 2023 Cheshire Novel Prize. Sinéad tells stories for a living as a freelance television producer/director and her work has been broadcast on BBC, RTÉ, TG4, Virgin Media, Channel 4, UTV, at film festivals and on various online platforms.
Jennifer Lynn is originally from Los Angeles but made Ireland her home more than twenty years ago. She lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow with her family. Her short stories have appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Prole, Howl, Puca, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. She holds a BA and MA in English, and at one stage started a PhD before realising that what she really wanted to do was write. She is a grateful recipient of the Basic Income for the Arts as well as Arts Council Agility Awards in 2021 and 2022.
Ali McGuire is passionate about writing fiction and poetry, teaching creative writing, and collaborating with other artists. Her writing centres around humanness and connections, exploring our vulnerabilities and darker proclivities. Ali was included in The Independent’s New Irish Writing in February 2021, and has had work featured on The Jealous Wall podcast. Ali lives in Wicklow with her family and holds a first-class master’s in creative writing from Dublin City University.
Mags McLoughlin’s career has been in the communications industry, in Ireland and overseas. She has written three novels, unpublished. She also completed an MA in Creative Writing at Queens University Belfast.
Caitriona Mullan is a native of Derry and North West Ireland, where she is currently based. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, her career to date has been in the European public, academic and technical policy spheres where she practises as a specialist in cross-border and territorial co-operation. Caitriona’s first novel, Slack Water, for which she has been selected as an IWC Novel Fair winner for 2024, is set against the backdrop of a liminal place emerging from conflict. In it, her characters navigate the adult version of a homeplace, amid themes of justice, corruption, death, sexuality, colonialism, power and control, love and transcendence. Caitriona is the mother of two teenagers and writes both fiction and poetry.
JM O’Brien works as a freelancer in digital campaigns and design for non-profits, founded the social enterprise Digital Charity Lab, and has written many articles, resources and guides about her field of work. Her submission to the IWC Novel Fair is her first novel. She has always been passionate about reading and writing, and has studied fiction writing with David Butler, Conor Kostick, Claire Keegan and Lynda Barry. The writer’s group ‘The After Party’ has been a huge source of constructive criticism, inspiration and support; and she feels very lucky to be a member. Based in Rialto, Dublin, she lives with her daughter and their dog.
John O’Donnell’s work has been published and broadcast in Ireland and abroad. Awards include the Irish National Poetry Prize, the New Irish Writing Awards for Poetry and Fiction, and in 2023 the RTE Francis McManus Short Story Award. He has published five poetry collections. His collection of short stories Almost the Same Blue (Doire Press) was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Rainbow Baby, a play for radio, was broadcast on RTE’s Drama On One and won a prize at the New York Festivals Radio Awards. He lives and works in Dublin.
Maria Saba is a writer, storyteller, and arts educator, writing in both Persian and English. Her short story manuscript, ‘My First Friend’, was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. The title story of the same collection was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and won Scoundrel Time’s Editors’ Choice Award. Saba’s novella won the Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction and was long-listed for the Disquiet Literary Prize. Excerpts of her novel were shortlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize and long-listed for the Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction. Maria has received grants from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, City of Ottawa Arts Funding, and Saskatchewan Arts Board and served on various arts funding juries. An alumna of Bread Loaf Writers Conference and Banff Writing Studio, Maria won the PEN Canada Scholarship for Writers in Exile and the Wallace Stegner Grant for the arts. Born in Iran, Saba now lives in Ottawa.
Dominic Stevens is an Irish writer, architect and academic who lives in New Ross, Co. Wexford. His forthcoming collection of illustrated short stories will be published in 2024 by Gandon Editions and his short story ‘Dream of a Lost Friend’ was published in The Winter Papers, Volume 6. He has engaged in quite a number of IWC courses, in particular ‘A Novel Approach’ by David Butler. He is part of a writing group ‘The After Party’ which he finds amazingly inspiring and supportive. His first Novel ‘The Coloured Room’ is set as the Berlin Wall falls. Alice is haunted by the gaps within her, left by the secrets of others. Dandanah counters isolation by migrating inward, to invented worlds. Their meeting changes everything.
“Reading through so many well written, diverse and engaging pieces of fiction was a pleasure. Judging between the many submissions, however, was no easy task, especially given the fine quality of the work. The winning selection offers clear evidence of the strength and range of talent coming through and to the fact that we can all look forward to some great reading in the near future.” – Eoin McHugh, Novel Fair Judge 2024
“…Having your work validated after years and years of doubt, uncertainty and endurance is surreal and brilliant. Whatever journey my novel takes, this refuels my faith and trust in myself as a fiction writer, which can often wither along the lonely road of writing. I really can’t believe it, I still think there’s been a mistake.”- Mia Döring, IWC Novel Fair 2024 winner
“Sometimes writing is like sending letters out into the darkness, so the call to say my manuscript had been chosen for the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair was like getting a sunny postcard back.” – John O’Donnell, IWC Novel Fair 2024 winner
“What a fantastic Christmas present to be selected for the novel fair. Santa has much to live up to now! I am absolutely thrilled that the judges liked my book and am extremely grateful to the Irish Writers’ Centre for gifting me with this wonderful opportunity. 2024 is already off to a cracking start.” – Sinéad Ingoldsby, IWC Novel Fair 2024 winner