Hennessy Nominees Announced & New Home For New Irish Writing

Those who are interested in writing short stories might want to have a look at the below – a new home for the Hennessy Irish Writers award. I’ve been published three times, always when the subject matter is Irish and sombre.

Short Story Ireland


A hearty congratulations to the nominees of the Hennessy Literary Awards which have just been announced. Eighteen writers have been chosen from entries submitted in 2014 in three categories: First Fiction, Emerging Fiction, and Emerging Poetry. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Westin Hotel in Dublin on February 24th.

In related news, 2015 sees New Irish Writing move to The Irish Times. This article provides an interesting read on the background of the page where several noted Irish writers were first published.

Nominees for the 

Sheila Armstrong: Skins

The idea that a thin film of flesh is what separates inside from outside, me from you, thoughts from reality, has always fascinated me,” says Sheila Armstrong, a 25-year-old freelance editor who is working on her first collection of short stories. “I think I wrote Skins as a way of looking…

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Giveaway of White Feathers for #IrishFictionFortnight!

The rather wonderful and fantastic Margaret Madden of Bleach House Library is hosting a giveaway of White Feathers on her blog as part of the wonderful #IrishFictionFortnight. I would recommend looking up this hashtag and following her blog as there are great discussions on books that have been published over the last 20-30 years in Ireland, by Irish publishers, by Irish authors. I don’t usually bang a drum for patriotism, but there are some lost jewels in there as well as many bestsellers.

Come on over for giveaways and general fun, and do check out the hashtag on Twitter!

Testament of Youth – Film Review

Thanks for everyone who left comments or kind tweets after my post yesterday about mental health. I’ve been privately told it helped other people that I spoke about it, and that’s really the most important thing of all. Sanity is not an absolute, it’s a spectrum, and most of us who are not utterly phlegmatic dolts or vacuous hosts of greed are somewhere right or left of its centre. Now, let’s get stuck into the film!

Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain’s biography of her early life and experiences during the First World War, is the Bible for fiction writers dealing with the same period. Few novelists can escape its influence, or fail to acknowledge it. It is thorough, detailed and in its own sombre and precise way, shattering. So as you can imagine I was excited to hear a film was coming out based on the book, starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington and a host of other beautiful men whose names I can’t recall. Especially as – full disclosure – I’m related to the person who designed the costumes. All of which are rather lovely and I’d wear them myself if I had the figure! Continue reading “Testament of Youth – Film Review”

Engagements early 2015

This is a quick post just to announce a couple of engagements in early spring. To keep up to date with my calendar, you can view or subscribe to it on Facebook:


I have an interview at 7pm this coming Tuesday with Brenda Drumm on Artyfacts arts programme on Kildare FM. It is a recorded interview so once the show is broadcast I will let you all know via blog and twitter if you fancy a listen 🙂

In the coming weeks, I will be giving a talk in Carlow about the inspiration behind White Feathers for a WWI-related event. More info to follow once the details are firmed up.

On Saturday 7th February, I will be leading a 1-day writing workshop for Carousel Creates, a lovely writing organisation up in the Wicklow Mountains hosted by writer Carolann Copland.

Then on Friday 27 February I will be up in Donegal with the North West Writers collective, discussing White Feathers and reading from the novel with book club organisations, in conjunction with Cafe Blend, Letterkenny.

I’ve been very quiet a few days on social media because I have a special feeling for Paris – I signed my publication agreement there and have visited many times – and my mind is a maelstrom of anguished thoughts over the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I’m not ready to pull it together yet, need time to collect my thoughts. I’ll leave you with “Peace on Earth” by U2.

2014: It’s Hard Out Here For a…Female Debut Novelist

2014 was a good year for me. On a personal level, my family added a generation when O arrived. Born in April 2014, he was the youngest guest at my launch. I had just referred to him in my launch speech and he’d disappeared and suddenly just materialised again, right on cue, along with his parents. Show immediately stolen 🙂

(I have not included the photo but just imagine everyone spontaneously going “Awwwww” when he entered the room.)

On a writing level – well, what can I say? There were two highlights of the year. The first was getting a book edited, I mean really edited, by a dedicated professional. It’s one of the reasons why I would always say, try to get traditionally published no matter what. Working with Liz Hudson was an absolute pleasure, in the way walking up a steep hill and then looking at the fabulous view at the top is, high on the rarefied air and the exertion after a good climb 🙂

The second and biggest highlight was birthing the book! I suspect I will never experience a high like it again. I have always wanted to have a book written and published and now that lifelong need has been met. That changes my internal reality quite dramatically. For having the faith and belief in White Feathers, I am of course indebted to my publishers O’Brien Press, who put so much into the creation of a beautifully produced first edition, and who have been battling a drastic Arts Council cut for 2015.

I would like for O’Brien Press to thrive, and from a selfish point of view publish more of my books, and I believe there are readers out there who would like more of my work too, so hopefully a more equitable solution will be found. (Not to mention that they publish other stuff too, and really good quality, just looking for great stories that readers will care about.) That this deduction appears to be solely aimed at O’Brien Press seems to be very pointed, and that’s all I’ll say…  Continue reading “2014: It’s Hard Out Here For a…Female Debut Novelist”