November 11, 1918

100 years ago today.

I post here just as I have before, the inscription on the Bomber Command Memorial on Beachy Head:

Lead me from death to life,

From falsehood to truth;

Lead me from despair to hope,

From fear to trust.

Lead me from hate to love,

From war to peace

Let peace fill our heart,

Our world, our universe.

Peace.

11 November,2018

On Being An Opinionated Novelist

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’ve often wondered how appropriate it is for a writer to share opinions on issues unrelated to their work. Particularly ones of a political nature. Specifically I wonder if I share too readily and express my opinion too often. Recent crises, particularly Brexit but not limited to that sequence of events, have brought this thought to my mind.

Continue reading “On Being An Opinionated Novelist”

A Cracking Review – And Why I Took Some Time off Twitter

taking a break

I’ve been off twitter a few weeks. It was having a not-great effect on my mental health. It’s not people I chat to, you are all wonderful and I miss you! But there are certain things that will always trigger me when discussed. That isn’t all my fault – much of it, I angrily maintain, is Ireland’s – and as Jefferson said, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. But I go through my life unmedicated – that is not a boast, by the way, and I do NOT deserve any medals for it – and honestly, sometimes it shows, particularly in winter.

I don’t want anti-depressants, useful as they doubtless are. What I really want is light, bright natural light, more and more of it. I want to personally nick the sun and put it in my office and then bring it home with me on a dog’s lead made out of some substance that wouldn’t shrivel and melt at the thousands of degrees Celsius my new travelling companion would possess.

Can you tell I’m writing sci-fi right now? πŸ™‚ I’m almost finished a first draft of a story I should have been working a long time ago. It’s looking quite robust, I’m pleased to say.

Another thing I discovered about Twitter – it can mask writing issues. You can castigate yourself for tweeting too much, not realising that once you’ve removed twitter from the equation, you still aren’t writing anything. Because you’re stuck and are losing motivation and it’s VERY VERY DARK ALL THE TIME.

Here’s a piece of light in a newspaper column – a review of White Feathers by Sile McArdle in the Sunday Independent. It’s a cracker πŸ™‚

And here’s a brief audio interview of me by the lovely Brenda Drumm of Artyfacts, Kildare FM.

And my workshop for Carousel CreatesΒ is on Saturday, I think it’s nearly full now, yes? I’m talking about the short story and we’ll be having writing fun in beautiful surrounding up t’mountains – kinda good that I’m writing a short story too, to refresh my brain πŸ™‚

And I’ll be back very soon, probably in a week or so, with more news to announce. But for now, am consolidating. And looking for more light!

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”

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 πŸ™‚

(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 πŸ™‚

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.)Β That this deduction appears to be solely aimed at O’Brien Press seems to be very pointed, and that’s all I’ll say…Β  Continue reading “2014: It’s Hard Out Here For a…Female Debut Novelist”

Bist Du Bei Mir

A lot of my recent posts have been all about the book, the book, the book…I’ve barely had time to stop and reflect. I’ve managed to flee Christmas, a season I’ve never particularly liked, by signing books here, posting advertisements there. I’ve been in full on battle mode. But today is a change of pace, because ten years ago to the day, something very important and significant happened and I’d be remiss not to recall it.

I was working a low-end job, earning little, writing less, adrift. I didn’t understand people. I didn’t understand how to be around them. I thought being myself was insufficient, and people picked up on that sense of insufficiency and drifted off. I had no sense of direction and little purpose. I knew I wanted to write, was told I had talent, but was so easily distracted. I felt as if I occupied space rather than anything more positive. As a person, I was lost and unhappy.

Then, on a rainy night in Galway not unlike this one, waiting for a party somewhere else, I wandered into the pub everyone wanders into and someone was sitting at a table reading a book called Thirty-Three Moments of Happiness and I fell into conversation with them – and just like that, without my knowing it, my life changed forever.

That I found my place in my society, that I stood up and no longer apologised for the space I inhabit, that I was essentially redeemed and loved – able to cash it all and start again – I owe to this fateful meeting and the time afterwards. I will never forget that. So, as a note of joyous gratitude, and a nod to the season that’s in it – and to the oul’ truce – here’s a beautiful song from one of my favourite First World War films, Joyeux Noel. Have a good one, everyone.