Category Archives: Dublin Event

Telmetale Bloomnibus, the e-book, streaming live around the world!`

ulyssesTo celebrate Bloomsday we asked 18 writers to bring Ulysses into the 21st Century. As Joyce once took inspiration from the texts of Homer, the writers have taken the 18 episodes or chapters from Ulysses and transported them to modern Dublin. They have each written a story inspired by a title from Ulysses and will perform them in the Irish Writers’ Centre on the 14th of June. Stories will be told through prose, poetry and song. The only rule we gave the writers is that the stories cannot mention Ulysses, The Odyssey or Joyce (though inspiration from the texts is allowed).  The stories are all original pieces of work set in contemporary Dublin. Guided by love, lust, alcohol, drugs and ever present moons, our heros and heroines battle scangie-gangies in Adidas, hooded drug pushers, administrators, chauvinist school principles, tourists, junkies, priests, giant cannibals and catholic computers. Pissheads riding the storm. We wake up handcuffed to beds, sanitary towels on the kitchen table; we encounter a Dublin where stealing laptops is the new stealing bread. A Telmetale Bloomnibus embraces both the beautiful and the obscene.

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Click on pic to buy the book!

When Joyce first started writing Ulysses 99 years ago the landscape of the city was very different from today. Globalisation, technology, independence, women’s rights, church scandals, Starbucks, Ryanair, Google and other such things have, in many ways, created a new city. But with all of these changes one thing has remained constant, high quality writers are constantly emerging. Writers that burst boundaries, challenge our perception. A Telmetale Bloomnibus celebrates Joyce by showcasing some of these writers and captures the modern landscape.

A Dublin of: HIV, Hep C, KFC, Twitter, Facebook, The Late Late, Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium, the Pantibar, the millennium spire, Madigans, The Gathering and Viking Splash Tours.

You can buy the e-book by clicking on the pic, and you can watch the event streamed ‘live’ thanks to our partners at Breac via this link from 7pm tonight.

Line-up in order of appearance:

Pat Boran, Colm Keegan, Jane Clarke, Niamh Boyce, June Caldwell, Steven Clifford, Christodoulos Makris, Jude Shiels, Jack Harte, Maire T Robinson, Emer Martin, Niamh Parkinson, Deirdre Sullivan, Graham Tugwell, Alan Jude Moore, Oran Ryan, Doodle Kennelly, Nuala Ní Chonchuir.

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Filed under Benefit Reading, Bestsellers, Creative Writing, Dublin Event, Irish Writers Centre, IWC, James Joyce, literature, Ulysses

Pride and Petulance

dream

 

By Diana Friedman

A petulant writer confession: I almost didn’t make it to Dublin this trip. Many years ago, a good friend asked me: when is the last time you really let yourself feel desire for something you want? We weren’t talking designer shoes or beachfront holiday property but deep soul-wrenching desire, the kind that makes your heart swell and expand into your cavity when you finally give yourself permission to chase that long-elusive dream.

I answered that question by diving into my novel. With two young children and a demanding job, it was no small feat researching and writing a story partially set in another country. Never mind facing down all the fears that had kept me from attempting it up until then.

During the time spent writing the book, I’ve learned that the heart is a sensitive little creature. One of the consequences of reaching inside so you can hold this lovely little pulsating, squirming core of self in your hands is that when you hit a road block, as I did a few weeks ago, it truly can disintegrate, leaving you vulnerable to falling to pieces.

Back in October 2012 I submitted the first four chapters of my novel to the Novel Fair at the Irish Writers’ Centre. I knew it was a long shot—the first year of the competition, the Centre had over 500 entries. In general, odds are never good in contests like these.

lepglassesI wasn’t planning to submit, but a number of friends encouraged me to apply, as I’d already invested so much time researching the book and doing due diligence to make sure I captured Dublin as is, not just as a city rich in its past and pubs or, as portrayed through the typical Americanist-leprechauny-four-leaf-cloverly-Guiness-tinted glasses.

And, I was no longer a neophyte. I’d been at the book for six years, was working with a professional editor, and had just placed an excerpt for publication. Three pieces of my work had recently been shortlisted in competitions in the States.

So, what was to lose? For 40 euros—a lot of money for one contest, yes, but as a donation to a Writer’s Centre, particularly to the Irish Writers’ Centre and all it offers, not very much at all—authors were to submit the first 10,000 words of a novel, and two judges would pick the top ten entries. Those ten authors would then receive the privilege of one full day of pitching directly to agents and editors from Ireland and the UK. For the non-writers among us, this is the equivalent of being handed an all-you-can-eat card at ten five-star restaurants in France.

As the date approached, I grew more excited about the prospect of being selected. A year earlier, I had attended the Algonkian Pitch Conference in New York City. If I could survive pitching to New York editors, Dublin, I imagined, would be a breeze.

The format for the New York pitch conference was completely different than Dublin. After submitting a synopsis to the conference organizers, applicants were either accepted or denied. If accepted, for the price of trip to Europe, plus some, attendees registered to spend a day and a half learning how to hone their 30 second pitch, and were then given two and a half days to pitch directly to four editors from the New York City publishing world.

It was hard to delineate where the adrenaline bled into the anxiety at the New York conference, except to say that by day four, the hallways smelled like a slaughterhouse just before the cows went under the blade. I have relatives in New York, so I got off easy, financially speaking, but most attendees had spent thousands of dollars to get to and stay in the city. Furthering the tension, we were meeting at the Horace Greely studios in Midtown Manhattan, home to dance and theatre audition spaces. The two groups were easy to distinguish—the dancers cavorted in hot colored spandex with beautiful erect posture, while the writers slouched around in baggy pants, hunched over their manuscripts and laptops. The entire atmosphere was choose me, choose me, choose me, a cramped and antiquated New York City building jammed with dozens of people sharing the same fantasy—that all their years of hard work would finally be met with reward.

We were divided into four sections of 15 writers each, and lucky for me, I wound up with a remarkable group of supportive and encouraging women. We didn’t start menstruating together, but it was the kind of group that had we been there longer, I’m sure we would have. Under the guidance of our very able workshop leader, we were primed, edited, and then instructed in the basics—be polite, articulate, look the editor in the eye, keep the responses brief and focused. And dress nicely. It was a bit like finishing school for writers. By the end of the first day, excitement was running high.

And then the editors arrived.

The first one was from Penguin. She listened to our pitches, asked questions, told us what she liked and what she didn’t, and gave us suggestions for improvement. Over lunch she talked with our workshop leader and gave her the list of books she wanted to see. She selected three.

But as the editors made their selections, and people realized they might not get chosen, the mood shifted. The conference organisers had clearly stated that if your book was not getting selected, it probably meant your pitch was too unfocused, which in turn, was a reflection on the state of your book. This was, not surprisingly, very hard for people to hear. In the hallways, people insisted they’d been put in the wrong group and hence were pitching to the wrong editor, or, blamed the editors for being too narrow-minded. The environment truly was a bit like Survivor for Writers—there were only so many people who were going to be selected—but our group supported and cheered one another on so that by the end most of us felt that the impromptu community we formed was probably the most valuable part of the conference.

Before the New York Pitch conference, my novel had received interest from a prominent agent, who later rejected it after I completed significant rewrites, suggesting I work with a different kind of agent to bring it to publication. I suspected that this meant that the book was good, but not quite good enough for the big leagues. And I knew that selling a book at this conference—despite what the web site promised—was going to be next to impossible, so I entered with somewhat low expectations, which made the landing somewhat easier for me. I wanted to test the market potential of my idea, learn how to pitch the book, and then, if I was lucky, get the manuscript into the hands of an editor who could tell me what precisely the book needed. I was very lucky; I managed all three. The editor who read my novel gave me very concrete feedback on what the novel needed to come to full strength. She offered to look at it following rewrites and point me to some agents. It was a rejection, but as far as rejections go, it was as good as they get.

The Dublin Novel Fair was completely different. The price was right, but only ten lucky writers were going to be selected. It was pretty clear that anyone who made that cut would have a very good chance of getting their book into the hands of agents and editors, since the vetting had already been done.

anxI waited, waited, waited, my mind spiraling with anticipation and anxiety. And layered below my excitement percolated a question that I really wanted answered: had any of the passion I experienced in writing the book come through in the story telling in a way that would resonate on the other side of the pond (this side, that is)? In November, a very kind relative bought me a plane ticket as a birthday present, under the assumption that I would go to Dublin either way, as I was once again tackling significant rewrites. I made a hotel reservation and I was all set.

When I learned I was not selected, though, all I could manage was to reach for the phone, from very deep underneath the covers, to turn in my ticket. For days, I could not bear the thought of being in Dublin knowing that there would be ten lucky bastards eating fillet while I would be sucking up crumbs across town.

And, so, such is the nature of desire; when we heed its call, it takes us to amazing new heights, but how much harder the fall when we don’t reach the destination.

And yet, forcing myself to take my book to completion has taught me a few things about surviving this business. In particular, I’ve had to learn that staying the course sometimes means surrendering to the immaturity of my artist self.  It is a child-like and vulnerable being. It has to be. How else to open myself up and get under and inside the skin of the characters and scenarios I’m creating?

But when it comes time to face the world—the rejections and cruelties and dismissals, that artist self needs quite a bit of help. Because it is also petulant. And irritable. It becomes a delicate balancing act, allowing the artist-self some tantrum time, and then knowing when it’s time for the adult self to step in—first with compassion, and then a gentle shove back into the world, the same way a parent helps a child along with a skinned knee or a failed exam. And, most importantly, making sure that no matter how bad things feel, that the adult self is the one who faces the world in those hard times—with professionalism and decorum.

Somehow, this time I missed that part about the adult self. It wasn’t until after watching me drown my head in my seventh batch of chocolate chip cookies, that my very same good friend poked me in the ribs and asked: what exactly would be the downside to going? 

And this is why she is such a good friend. Because once I put away the chocolate I knew she was right. In fact, I realized, all the contest had done was paralyse me. I had two directions to take the rewrites of the book, one focused for an Irish audience, and one for the American women’s fiction market. In the three months while waiting for the response, unable to decide which one I was going forward with, I worked on precisely neither of them.

So I stuffed my suitcase with rain gear and then, for reinforcement, made a quick pit stop at my neighborhood hippie haven. Hillary, local Goddess extraordinaire, smudged me with sage and cedar for creative inspiration and good luck. Holly, a massage therapist of zero balancing expertise, passed along visions of me grounded inside a huge pyramid while on the plane. It was an image, I have to confess, I had never considered, but rather liked. It made take-off and landing a bit less traumatic.

By the time I arrived to Dublin, I had mostly forgotten about the Novel Fair. June Caldwell welcomed me warmly and has been an enormous help with my project, as have so many others around the Centre, including random writers popping in and out to talk with me, and the Ink Splinters, a writer’s group that so kindly opened their circle to me one night.

As the Novel Fair date approached and I watched the staff move chairs and tables around the Centre in preparation, I admit to some curiosity, but it was more fly-on-the-wall type.

Happily clicking away on my laptop on this blog and my book, what I mostly felt was relief that I wasn’t going through it again. Eventually I will be pushing the novel at US conferences when it’s ready, but for now, how much more fun it was to be in Dublin,  and, rather than suffer the anguish of selling, bask in the pleasure of writing.

The publishing industry may be fickle and arbitrary, but such is the nature of art;  no voice will ever speak to everyone. Expecting any work of art to resonate across the board is simply setting yourself up for disappointment. As artists, when we become dependent on others to validate our voices, it’s easy to freeze and lose ourselves.

I’ll close out with another confession: Halfway through writing this blog I still have no idea what it means to be an American writer in Dublin, as June dubbed me, but it’s a label I’ve happily worn and enjoyed. Because while the blog format will most likely never attain the same status as the short story or essay, it’s a powerful tool for a writer—pure voice, unadulterated and luminous and radiant as voice comes.

windowIndeed, gazing out from the Centre’s top floor classroom window over the rooftops and chimneys and historic buildings of Dublin, my heart once again thumping safely and softly, the words and stories erupting non-stop in an almost mystical energetic flow, I re-discovered one critically important thing: losing one’s voice may be misery-inducing, indeed, but in the whole entire world, for this writer anyway, there is absolutely and truly nothing better than getting it back.

 

*********************************************************************

diana

Diana Friedman’s work has received several awards, including being selected as a finalist for the Howard Frank Mosher Fiction Prize, a top 25 pick for Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Contest, third place in Bethesda Magazine’s Annual Short Story Competition, and as a finalist in Sport Literate’s essay contest. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications, including Sport Literate, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, Whole Earth Review, the Baltimore Sun, Newsweek, Bethesda Magazine, Stone Highway Review and the Legendary, among others. An excerpt of her novel will be published in a forthcoming anthology of Washington, D.C. writers, Defying Gravity, available from Paycock Press in 2013.  www.dianafriedmanwriter.com  and to keep up with her newest writings or hang out with her in cyberspace, you can “like” her on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/DianaFriedmanwriter or follow her on Twitter @Dfriedmanwriter

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Filed under Beginning the Novel, Creative Writing, Dublin Event, new writing, Novel Fair, novels, publishing, writing groups

Stayin’ Alive in Durty Dublin

look left

On my third day in Dublin, I almost went home early—on the freight deck of a jumbo jet in a body bag. Regarding mechanical competencies, I’m pretty well-endowed. I can fit more suitcases into a car trunk than most people would ever dare try. When my children need help with their car and catapult models, it’s me they come to, not their father.  I’ve driven 14-foot trucks up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco and across the U.S.  I even have an internal GPS that works so well people have threatened to steal it when I’m asleep. You would think that mastering this “other” side of the street traffic flow thing wouldn’t be so difficult.

lookleftagainThink again.

First, let me give a shout out to the Dublin City Council and Road Maintenance Services for the fact that I am not dead. Those “look left” and “look right” on-pavement directions have saved my life repeatedly. And I am getting better about looking the correct way first now, although some part of my brain refuses to acknowledge that I am safe with only one look, so if you see a short woman turning her head 6-8 times like a lateral cuckoo clock as she’s crossing the street, that’d be me.

The odd thing about this problem is that it’s only the street crossing. I have driven successfully in Ireland. In the west. On a manual car. I stayed out of the ditch (common landing spot for right side roadsters). I have sped along the narrow roads from Kerry to Clare, and nary a scratch on the car. I was even fingered politely (a la Des Bishop) in Clare in appreciation for my skilled driving.

jayalkerDublin is another matter altogether. Because it’s not only the traffic, it’s the jaywalking. Being from New  York City, I am a consummate jaywalker. As pedestrians, we have no use for red lights. We have no time for them either. I’ve tried to curb this habit while in Dublin, but being a social creature, it’s quite difficult, as it’s very lonely to be standing alone when everyone else has gone on ahead.

In my own defense, I would like to point out that when I’m here, I’m always working. I don’t mean that I’m sitting at a desk typing, but that my brain opens up like a sieve, sucking up all the music and accents and colors, igniting new story ideas and characters. It gets very busy in what is already a small space and my brain has its outer limits.

The night in question, the one that almost found me sprawled beneath a monster yellow bus, was rainy and very dark. My head was under an umbrella and swarming with writerly thoughts. And the driver didn’t use his turn signal. Heading out of town on Aungierwexfordcamden Street, I stepped off the curb at a very small, un-traffic lighted and un-zebra-crossed street, only to find a bus nano-seconds from swallowing me whole. I’m a bit ancient but not quite so old that I didn’t manage to jump back on the curb just as the bus careened down the street.

Shaken, I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong. I’d looked to the right to make sure there was no traffic coming up behind me and turning left, as I often miss that one. Not until I’d settled my shakes a few minutes later did I realize what had happened. The bus, heading into town, had made an ungodly fast left turn, and of course, because the street was so narrow, banked left to the far side. The same side I had stepped off of.

Jesus F. Christ. Now I have to worry about fecking bus-banking angles?

I managed to sleep it off, but the next morning, when I saw I had put on my underwear inside out, I quickly switched it around. Remember your mum’s advice? I could just hear the emergency medical technicians as they sliced off my pants to treat my broken leg: wasn’t just the head the American girl had on backwards, it was her fecking knickers too.

Unfortunately, inner jaywalkers do not go gently into the night. Exiting the Tara  Street station I saw a group getting ready to cross against the light. Safety in numbers, right? I followed behind, and next thing I knew, they were up on the curb about two feet in front of me while a very angry taxi was ready to take out my left hip. A friend later pointed out that probably they were tourists themselves, not the best group to attach myself to if I wanted to avoid becoming Dublin road kill.

The following day, near O’Connell Street, amidst traffic so heavy, no one dared jaywalk, a disheveled bearded guy stepped out into the middle of the stream and unbelievably, one by one, the cars stopped for him. They didn’t honk. Not a single driver shook a finger or fist at him. I was stunned. I was sure it was going to be a bloodbath. In fact, some people already had their phones out to snap a photo of the impending carnage.

But no. The cars parted as if he were Moses with his staff at the Red Sea. Later, it occurred to me that maybe I was onto something there, and in fact, this guy was the messiah. Perhaps Jesus had returned and he was here. In Dublin. Sorting out the traffic mess. After all, he’s going to have to start somewhere when he returns.

oconnellsttraffic

Alas, further efforts to find the fellow were fruitless, and I was back to my Mad Mary head-shaking routine, until finally, one evening, more by accident than intent, I hit on a strategy that seems to be keeping me alive. I was crossing Georges  Street just behind a pack of big men, and suddenly found myself inside the huddle, which turned out to be a cozy place indeed. So now I simply seek out those groups of big men, preferably local, and preferably sober, and insert myself as if I’m part of the crowd. It’s a fair assumption, I think, that any bus or car will get them first, and, based on their size, also a good bet they’ll take out a bus before it takes them down. It’s my own form of pedestrian insulation. Most of the time they don’t even notice I’m in there. And if they brush up against me, instead of giving me a dirty look, this being Ireland, they turn around and say, oh, sorry, sorry love, sorry there, very sorry, really sorry.

It’s a bit heartless, I know, almost English-like, to be sacrificing Irish lads to save myself, but then again, it’s not as if I TOLD them to jaywalk.

Last Christmas, my family and I were visiting relatives in New York City when my son received an invitation to spend New Year’s with a pal in New Jersey. Seemed like a fine plan; the house was only an hour or two out of the way on our route home to Washington D.C. Except that the forecast was for the frozen wet stuff, and to put it mildly, our groovy, ultra light, low emission, gas efficient, aerodynamic PC little Honda absolutely sucks in the snow.

Not wanting to spoil my son’s New Year’s, we headed out anyway, convincing ourselves that the forecast was probably nothing more than hype from a bunch of weather forecasters trying to bring up the ratings. About an hour into the New Jersey hills, we were slipping and sliding all over the place, but we’d passed the halfway mark and it was too late to turn back. Hunched over the steering wheel like the little old lady I will someday become, I mentally willed the car to stay in the track and not skid in front of some massive 18-wheeler—because this does happen more than you would think on the roads in America. And as much I enjoy singing along with Bruce about suicide machines, I most certainly did not want to be driving one. The whole way home, my knuckles bone-white around the steering wheel, all I could think was: I did not come this far in life to die on the goddamned New Jersey Interstate.

Hell. I’m from New York. I’m not even supposed to frigging BE in New Jersey.

And so, back to road risks of DDiana Friedmanublin: while I do feel like a bit of an idiot having to use escorts to cross the street, I recognise that part of growing up is accepting one’s limitations.

So there you will find me, jaywalking with the big Dublin locals.

Because, same as that day in New Jersey, I did not come this far in life to die under a Dublin City Bus.

Although, God almighty, think about the crapload of  books I’d sell if I did …

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Diana Friedman visited the Irish Writers’ Centre in August 2012 and visited again in February 2013 where she became an honorary member for a week in return for writing some insightful blogs! She was born and raised in New York City, and corrupted at college in California and upstate New York, where she got a few degrees, none of them in writing. After doing the east coast-west coast leap a few times, she landed outside of Washington D.C. in 1996 and has been there ever since. To keep bread (and butter) on the table, Diana works as a science editor/writer, but her true passion is creative writing, particularly fiction. About seven years ago, she passed through Ireland on her way back to the States, and, finding herself compelled to write a novel partially set in Dublin, discovers herself here quite a bit.  She’s lost track of whether she now visits to work on the book or to holiday, but as these two activities are equally fun, she no longer bothers with that distinction. Except for the taxman.

Her work has received several awards, including being selected as a finalist for the Howard Frank Mosher Fiction Prize, a top 25 pick for Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Contest, third place in Bethesda Magazine’s Annual Short Story Competition, and as a finalist in Sport Literate’s essay contest. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications, including Sport Literate, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, Whole Earth Review, the Baltimore Sun, Newsweek, Bethesda Magazine, Stone Highway Review and the Legendary, among others. An excerpt of her novel will be published in a forthcoming anthology of Washington, D.C. writers, Defying Gravity, available from Paycock Press in 2013.  www.dianafriedmanwriter.com  and to keep up with her newest writings or hang out with her in cyberspace, you can “like” her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DianaFriedmanwriter or follow her on Twitter @Dfriedmanwriter

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Filed under Dublin Event, writing

Skippy Dies, then goes for lunch

Paul Murray (pic from beatrice.com)

Paul Murray will read at the Irish Writers’ Centre’s ‘Lunchtime Readings’ series, beginning this Friday, 10th February.  He’s the author of two novels: An Evening of Long Goodbyes (Penguin), shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and nominated for the Kerry Irish Fiction Award and Skippy Dies (Hamish Hamilton) - shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Book Awards – and longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Skippy Dies has been described as funny, rude, dark, sad, ambitious, imaginative, surreal, briliant.  The Guardian praised it for being: ‘so appealing and surprising that the pages pass with ease’, while the Irish Independent dubbed Murray’s characters ‘so three-dimensionally drawn and brought to such vivid life that they may haunt your dreams.’ Here, the author discusses loneliness, capitalism, posh schools, and how becoming a writer is no different to becoming a plumber or pilot or podiatrist:

A novel set in a posh Dublin school is a far cry from the worlds of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown or Dermot Bolger’s Finglas. Did you deliberately choose a radically different social setting with “Skippy Dies?” Or was this a purely instinctive, natural narrative backcloth? Well, I didn’t choose it just to be different. It was a world that I knew very well, which had the added attraction of having been somewhat under-represented in Irish books hitherto. In fact I had the suspicion, rightly or wrongly, that that world, the ‘posh school’ as you call it, and the boring, anonymous suburbs where so many people live now, weren’t seen as being worth writing about.  They were seen as being less ‘Irish’, less authentic and therefore less fit subject for literature than more ‘real’ settings like the west of Ireland, for instance. That idea, that some places and some people are more real than others, and that we should all be writing novels about old peasant women scrubbing their butter churns, really bothers me. Maybe the suburbs are less real and less authentic. But the people living there are still people, and their experiences of this unreal world are absolutely real. So I wanted to write about that world I knew so well, and I wanted to write about it via teenagers – they’re the ones who experience suburbia most directly, because they’re stuck there. And again, teenagers seemed to be seen as kind of infra dig in Irish novels, so I wanted to give them their turn.

The Guardian flatteringly described the book as a ‘hilarious satire on modern Ireland‘? Did you set out with that intention? Was this a work principally of satire? I’m not really that comfortable with tags like comedy or satire or whatever, like your book can only be one thing. I wanted to tell the story of these characters as faithfully and honestly as I could. There’s a lot of humour, because most of the characters are teenagers and they act in quite an unguarded and extreme way, but it’s mostly realistic and I’m not setting them up to be laughed at. The word ‘satire’ to me conjures up images of the author mocking the foibles of humanity from some great height – everyone’s a grotesque, and their entire world is revealed to be fundamentally deluded and ridiculous. I didn’t have any interest in writing a book like that. That said, setting the book in this school was a useful way of looking at bigger changes that were happening in the country – because these were the most privileged children of the people who were reaping the benefits of the economic boom. They were handed this new world that generation had created, so they were at the coal-face of that new morality and that new attitude to money and materialism.

Although a comic novel there’s a darkness beneath it especially with menacing figures like Carl, how much of this came from your own experience of school days and the adolescent ‘jungle’? I went to secondary school in the 1990s, which though it wasn’t that long ago chronologically feels, from this vantage, almost prehistoric. So many interesting things have happened since then – the internet, the war on terror, mobile phones, X-Factor – and I wanted to write about those things. For all their supposed privilege, I think in some ways the kids in Skippy have a harder time than my generation did. Their world is so much more mediated, the forces of capitalism have a much tighter stranglehold on them so they have even more impossible expectations to try and fail to live up to.  Compared to now, my time in school was quite benign. Certainly, it was a jungle, and there were large, terrifying creatures with BO lurking around every corner. But if you were fast, you could outrun them. How can you outrun Facebook?

Ruprecht concludes that our universe is built out of loneliness. Amid all the comic episodes and teeny angst there is this philosophical undercurrent via string theory, etc. Is this a central theme in your work, the loneliness, not only of teenagers, but man in general? Ruprecht comes to this conclusion shortly after Skippy’s death, when he’s hit rock bottom. The book doesn’t leave him there though. To say the universe is empty, that man is alone-in some ways those are quite self-aggrandising, egoistic notions. They ignore the infinite ways that we’re tied to each other, and they ignore the duties that we have to take care of each other. That seemed like a much more interesting idea to explore than this romantic-melancholic of loneliness, which perpetuates this fantasy of uniqueness, that no one has suffered quite like you have, and that your aloneness is somehow qualitatively superior to everyone else’s. Not to be glib but people in a famine don’t spend much time talking about man’s fundamental loneliness.

Lastly, any advice for aspiring writers!? Becoming a writer is no different to becoming a plumber or pilot or podiatrist. There’s no magical secret. You just have to work really hard. For me, regularity is really important – a set routine.  Writing a novel is like running a marathon. It takes a long time, and although you’ll have your moments of grace and exaltation, inevitably some of that time it will feel like a pure slog. It will feel tedious and dull, and you’ll feel disillusioned, and the temptation will arise to give up or set it aside and work on something else. At times like those, the routine may be what carries you through – you keep going simply because that’s what you’re used to. And pretty soon you’ll find yourself re-engaging and getting excited again. But to finish a novel, you need the bloody-mindedness to persevere with it even when you’ve forgotten why.

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Filed under Dublin Event, Irish Writers Centre, IWC, new writing, novels, writing

The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions, Winners Announced!

 

We are delighted to announce our October winners of The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions, our ongoing monthly short story event for emerging fiction writers. They are (in no particular order): Mary Rose McCarthy, Carol Brick, Sheela Armstrong, and Maebh Ni Chathalain. Congratulations all! 

Come along to the Irish Writers’ Centre at 7pm on Wednesday, October 26th where you can enjoy a glass of wine in our reading room and hear these writers reading their prize-winning stories. This is a free event and everyone is welcome! It promises to be a great evening.

Our judge this month was John McKenna, author of ‘The Fallen and other stories’ (1992), which won the Irish Times First Fiction Award, ‘A Year of Our Lives, (London Picador, 1995), ‘The Last Fine Summer (London, Picador, 1998), ‘Things You Should Know’ (New Island, 2006), ‘The River Field’ (New Island 2007) and ‘The Space Between Us’ (New Island 2009). A big thank you to John for reading the entries and providing critical feedback for the winners.

John had the following to say about the winning entires:

We Came Home by Mary Rose Mc Carthy – I thought this story worked really, really well and what I liked most about it was the nuanced way the writer managed to strike moments of great softness and then moments of harshness. This isn’t always easy to do well but it was done beautifully in this story. The narrative voice is also strong and definite – yet full of subtlety-  and all without being overbearing.

The Outsider by Carol Brick – A wonderful piece of writing about love and loss and memory and returning. The narrative voice caught me from the first paragraph and one of the successes of this writer’s work is his/her ability to take you under the skin and behind the eyes of the narrator and let you see and, more importantly, feel the remembered joys and the ongoing loss in her life.

Weeds by Sheela Armstrong – Again, the narrative voice is strong, clear, effective and beautifully realised. There’s an air of bitter-sweetness in this story. A wonderful clash of the individual and society but also the discomfort of a child caught between a strong and determined parent and the perception society has of that parent. Landscape plays an equally important part in the story and its inclusion is captured with subtlety and skill.

Forgotten Bodies  Maebh Ni Chathalain / Maebh Culhane – A brave, challenging, beautiful and brutal exploration of the relationship between a body and its owner/ dweller. Written with strength and grace and honesty – and a refusal to bow to the lure of the sentimental or the maudlin. This story makes for uneasy reading in absolutely the best sense of that idea – it dares us to stay with it and to see things through to the end.

John also had this piece of general advice to offer:

“Good wishes to all of the writers – I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the stories, those chosen and those shortlisted - and I wish them every success with their work.

One word I’d like to offer to the writers - DISCIPLINE. Every day – for whatever time you have – twenty minutes or three hours – write. Treat your writing seriously, it’s not a hobby, it’s a vocation and a job. Be disciplined.”

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The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions – Line-Up Announced!

We are delighted to announce that we have selected our four featured readers for the inaugural event in our new series, The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions. They are Aideen Henry, Niamh Bagnell, Mary O’ Shea and Annemarie Neary.

Aideen’s short story Morning Surgery was shortlisted and commended in the Aindreas McEntee Prize for Irish Medical Writers in February 2009. Her flash fiction piece School Run is forthcoming in Boyne Berries. She has just completed her first collection of short stories and her first collection of poetry, Hands moving at The Speed of Falling Snow, will be published by Salmon Poetry in April 2010.

Niamh is a member of The Lucan Writers’ Group and has been a regular performance poet on the Dublin scene since last May. She read poetry on the Literary stage at Electric Picnic and on the mainstage at Castlepalooza. Her first short story to be published was printed in last year’s Kay’s Book, as part of the Kay McDonnell Memorial Competition run by South Dublin County Council.

Mary has published a number of stories, one a Hennessy award winner. She was runner-up in the William Trevor Short Story Award in 2008.

Annemarie has been writing for the past 10 years, but only started to ‘emerge’ in 2008 when she submitted a story to the Bridport Prize and was shortlisted. In the course of 2009 she won the Brian McMahon Short Stroy award at Listowel Writers’ Week, was awarded third prize in The Fish International Short Story Prize and advanced to runner-up in the most recent Bridport Prize.

You can hear these four writers read their work at our inaugural event which takes place on Wednesday the 27th of January at The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, from 7pm-9pm. The event is free and open to all, so do come along for what promises to be a great evening.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who submitted. We were delighted with the volume of stories we received and the high standard of the submissions. Choosing our four readers was a difficult task, but we look forward to doing it all again next month! The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions will be an ongoing event, taking place on the last Wednesday of every month. Details of how to submit work for future readings can be found on our website:http://www.writerscentre.ie/html/events/atthecentre.html

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Filed under Dublin Event, Fiction, IWC, Short Story