The Box is Unequal to the Task of Containing Them

Sinead O’Hart has written a beautiful, powerful post promoting the short story competition I’m running, Walking on Thin Ice. I’ve fully funded it, with some help from donations, but we’re in need of lots of subs, so I’ve extended the deadline to November 15. Here is a quote:

I wish we existed in a society where those who battle with a heavy mind could feel that help was at hand whenever they needed it. Instead, people are slotted into ‘boxes’, made to believe they are faulty when the box into which they’re put is unequal to the task of containing them, and forced to conform, under threat of shame. 

Walking on  Thin Ice aims to start the process of correcting that. I’ll be doing my bit to help, and I hope you will, too.

I also came across a wonderful piece of art by Susie Cambell here (link contains strong language.) It makes a great point about how we stigmatise mental health issues. I can think of several very recent, high-profile examples of this, which remain unatoned-for by the stigmatisers.


Looking forward to getting more subs 🙂

Good News – Publishing Agreement with O’Brien Press

I have just returned from the launch of the Brandon imprint which is a new branch of O’Brien Press set up to publish commercial and literary fiction. The launch took place in the National Gallery of Ireland and featured authors Frank McGuinness and Mary Morrissey as well as two wonderful actors who read out extracts from the two books. I was particularly taken with Maria McDermottroe’s reading of a demented nun in McGuinness’s Arimethea, which had the audience laughing out loud. And my name was announced (just at the point where everyone headed off for the bar or something) so I think it’s ok to talk about this now:

A few weeks ago I mentioned I’d signed an important agreement in Paris. This agreement made in the presence of agent and publisher, in a café called Les Editeurs (appropriately enough) was my publishing deal with the O’Brien Press for the novel I pitched in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair back in February. The intervening months had been the long struggle of refining the novel, gaining representation along the way, then submitting the manuscript. But the Novel Fair was crucial in getting me to meet Michael O’Brien from the O’Brien Press as well as the other publishers. I cannot overemphasise how important it has been to my fledgling writing career.

I’m delighted to be on the Brandon imprint, in such distinguished company, and grateful to everyone who helped get me there. I’m looking forward to working with the team from O’Brien; I had the pleasure of meeting many of them this evening. 

More to come about this, but I think I will sign off on that piece of happy news. 

Reviews: Books Read this Past Month

One of the great virtues of being out of the office and, more significantly, not writing is that one is free to pick up a book. Or, since I have now been gifted a Kindle, hoover it down from Amazon. It’s scary how easy it is to do that. I rarely review books on this site, mostly because I know too many novelists 🙂 but I’m going to make an exception just this once.

The books reviewed are:

Hunting Shadows by Sheila Bugler

HHhH by Laurent Binet

The Things We Know Now by Catherine Dunne

Love and Summer by William Trevor

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Continue reading “Reviews: Books Read this Past Month”