Happy New Year one and all. It’s been a while since I’ve been here – it’s been a very busy few months with events around the publication of The Watch House and Female Lines – but I thought I’d start the new year on a new footing. I can’t guarantee I’ll keep this up for any length of time. Life seems to get between me and here. But for now, here are some upcoming events that may be of interest to fellow writers and readers.
I’m delighted to have an extract from a new short story (‘Small Steps’) included in the latest publication (Reading the Future: New Writing from Ireland) from Arlen House, celebrating 250 years of the Hodges Figgis bookshop in Dublin. The book contains new writing from over 250 authors covering fiction, poetry, drama, Irish language, crime, young adult and children’s writing, alongside archival images. Income from the publication will go towards a fund to support the literary community in Ireland. Reading the Future will be launched in January 2018 (further details to be announced but copies are available now from Hodges Figgis).
The new term of creative writing starts at Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart on Wednesday 24th January 2018 7pm-9pm. For those who would like to dip their toe in the water, on Saturday 3rd February 2018, I’ll be taking a one-day Fiction Writing workshop at Flowerfield from 10.00am-4.00pm. For full details on both, visit Flowerfield’s sparkly new website, or telephone 028 7083 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a smorgasbord of creative courses and workshops on offer for the incoming term.
On 27th February 2018 I’ll be taking the first of eight weekly sessions of a Begin Your Novel course at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry (7pm-9pm). This course is organised and enrolled via the Irish Writers’ Centre (IWC) in Dublin. If you’ve got an idea for a novel that’s been worrying away at your brain, then maybe this is the year to start. You’ll find full details of the course and how to enrol on the IWC website. Come and join us.
On 8th March 2018, organised by Women Aloud NI for International Women’s Day, I will join writers Margot McCuaig and Claire Savage for a panel event in Waterstones Coleraine at 12.45pm, where we will be discussing ‘A Sense of Place’ and the ways in which the landscape of the coastline has impacted on our writing. The discussion will be followed at 1.30pm by readings from women writers in the Causeway Coast area, coordinated by (and including) the indefatigable Jane Talbot, author of the exquisite The Faerie Thorn & Other Stories. Later that evening, several of us will join the Literary Ladies at Primrose on the Quay in Derry (7pm) to finish off the celebrations. All Women Aloud NI events on International Women’s Day are free to enter and everyone is welcome to join us. There is more information on the events and the participants on the Women Aloud website.
I’m looking forward to catching up with the Book Club at Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy on 8th April 2018 to discuss The Watch House with the members there. The Book Club is led by Carol O’Doherty and Patricia Broderick, and meets on a monthly basis. For more information, visit the HomePlace events page. The excellent HomePlace Spring Programme for 2018 includes visits by Jimmy McGovern, Marian Keyes, Wilko Johnson, Olivia O’Leary, Malachi O’Doherty, Sean Hillen and many more. Take a gander at the programme here.
I’m delighted to be taking part in events around The Long Gaze Back, the One City One Book choice for Dublin in 2018, with dates pencilled in for Finaghy Library, Belfast on Wednesday 11th April (6.30pm) and Blanchardstown Library, Dublin on Thursday 12th April (8pm). Keep an eye on the website for the full programme which will be announced in the coming weeks.
In between times, I’ll be continuing to work for Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools programme, a scheme that part-funds writer visits to schools with support from the two Arts Councils in Ireland, north and south. If you know of a school that would be interested, please direct them to the Poetry Ireland page. I’ll also be working on a top secret project for Big Telly Theatre Company about which I can tell you absolutely nothing. (Shouldn’t really have mentioned it.) I’ll be taking a few sessions with Portglenone Writers’ Group and some workshops for Primary School children at HomePlace on World Poetry Day. That should keep me out of mischief as far as Easter, and a little beyond, at which point I may have more news. I’ve been concentrating in the last few months on writing short stories (you can, if you like, read an extract from ‘Glass Girl’, published in Female Lines, on the RTE website) but there’s an idea for a novel brewing. It keeps throwing me lines at inconvenient times, like when I’m in the shower, or chopping onions, or walking the mad dog, and have no means of writing anything down. It’s a crafty ploy to distract and entice me. One of these days, I’m going to have to sit down at the laptop and make a start.