Red Lamp, Black Piano – Cáca Milis Cabaret Anthology Launch


My great friend Helena Mulkerns, compere of the Cáca Milis Cabaret in Wexford for five years now, is launching the companion anthology in Dublin and Wexford next week. I’ll be reading at the Irish Writers Centre for the launch next Wednesday if you fancy coming along and having a read of the Anthology there. More information below the line 🙂
Continue reading “Red Lamp, Black Piano – Cáca Milis Cabaret Anthology Launch”

I Am Good Enough, And So Are You

This heading is so important, I need to repeat it. I am good enough. And you are good enough too.

And anyone in your life who undermines that belief is someone you need to put space between.

Listen: if you seriously want to be a writer, or are pursuing that dream right now, you will face adversity enough. Its a profession/vocation which simultaneously requires the sensitivity to detect a fly’s wing quiver and the reinforced hide of a rhinoceros to deal with all the rejection and the long lead-in time.

The novel for which I signed my publication agreement in September took three years of hard work. I don’t know how it is for others, but I know that for me it took tremendous willpower. You will need, excuse the crudity, balls of iron and turbo-powered ovaries to shut everything else out and keep going. What you don’t need is people attacking you and undermining you.Continue reading “I Am Good Enough, And So Are You”

“The Past is Never Dead. It’s Not Even Past”

The above is a quote by William Faulkner. It’s very relevant. I have a novel on the theme of the white feather of cowardice coming out next year, so was interested to see the below which a colleague of mine brought to my attention.


For those having problems reading the prose, it says: “This traditional White Feather is presented to you for your cowardice and betrayal of the Irish people. May this great shame be inherited by your children’s children for all time, may your name be come [sic] a byword for infamy.”

This is not a document from a century back, intended for a conscientious objector to World War I. This was sent to parliamentary representative Colm Keaveney late last year – 2012 – apparently for his opposition to welfare budget cuts.

When I wrote White Feathers, I really felt the dank, depressing energy of ill-will and stigma. That might pertain to World War I, but here we are, one hundred years later, and it’s still about.

And Christ, I feel like I need to plunge my aura into sparkling cold water after seeing that.

My Story “Those Little Slices of Death” out today on Daily Science Fiction

My 900-word story “Those Little Slices of Death” is now up at Daily Science Fiction. Head over and have a read! It’s another campaigning story; not a million miles away from Walking on Thin Ice, though this time the exploitation is a bit more Dickensian.

Hope you enjoy.

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”

Walking on Thin Ice contest submissions now open!


I’m very excited to announce that submissions are open for the Walking on Thin Ice contest. Please go here for more information.

I’d like to add a special thank-you to James, who has been working behind the scenes to set up the submission board. Thanks a mil James, much appreciated!

This, for me, is truly a work coming from the heart. I want true, fierce writing. (Or gently barbed is fine too.) Fight the powers that be. Fight the stigma.

Have a good evening and weekend!