Tuesday, 16 September 2014


I'm on the train to Cork, very much looking forward to the next five days at the Cork Intl Short Story Festival (CISS). Unbelievably (to me) this is my tenth consecutive visit to the festival. It is truly the best little literature festival in the world - the hospitality and friendliness are second to none. If you are a short story writer and you have never been, beg or bribe your publisher to get you a spot. If that doesn't work, go anyway. You won't regret it.

I am looking forward to Richard Ford's reading tonight (a festival returnee also - see, even Richard Ford can't stay away!). My friend Órfhlaith Foyle reads tomorrow with Valerie Sirr; the wondrous Rachel Trezise and Alison MacLeod read on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. And for Culture Night there's a Flash Fiction event at Waterstone's. There are lots more events, of course, see here

As to my events, I'm teaching a 4-day course in The Novel. I'm also doing a short story reading with Canadian writer Matt Rader on Weds. 17th September at 7pm in Triskel. And on Saturday afternoon I'll be yapping on a panel about long and short forms in fiction with Patrick Chapman and Ladette Randolph, chaired by Jennifer Matthews.

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, 12 September 2014


WED 1 OCT | €12/€10

DWF returns in October with their OFF THE PAGE
series featuring award-winning author Colm Tóibín.
A new novel by Tóibín is always a major event
and Nora Webster is no exception.
To mark its publication, the Dublin Writers Festival
in association with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
hosts a special reading and discussion.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


Matt Rader
Corkonians!! Cork-bound-people!! I'll be reading at the short story festival there next week with Canadian writer Matt Rader. Weds. 17th, 7pm. Triskel Arts. Please come and cheer us on. Bookings here.

Monday, 8 September 2014


Rufus Wainwright has a song that goes, 'Why am I always on a plane or a fast train?' I hear you, Rufus. I am away so much that my kids don't even bother to summons me if they need something anymore. Sniff. My awayness is OTT at the moment and showing no signs of stopping.

Nairn beach, the Moray Firth
Having said that, Nairn in Scotland was beautiful. It's at the bottom of the Highlands, on the coast, and it has this gorgeous balmy climate. A lot of people retire there and it's easy to see why, between the good weather, the cute shops and the decent food available in places like Basil, a café by the harbour.

I had a lovely time at the Nairn Book and Arts Festival: I went to a reading/presentation about tango dancing from Kapka Kassabova, a Bulgarian Kiwi who was seduced by tango and 'followed' it for ten years.
Peter Ross reading from Daunderlust
I went to the journalist Peter Ross's reading from his fascinating book of essays/articles Daunderlust - snapshots of the real Scotland, with everything from aria singing chippers to corpse dissection. I did my own reading from The Closet of Savage Mementos and the aforementioned Peter interviewed me. It seemed to go well (Peter kept his end up marvellously) but I sometimes get fed up listening to myself saying the same things about the book and its history, over and over. Occupational hazard, I guess. There were some funny questions put to me (mostly in private) - people really have a hard time separating fact and fiction, it seems. Several people believe that all that happens to Lillis in the novel also happened to me. Very little of it did, in fact. It's kind of amusing though to be quizzed in detail about a personal life that you have invented for a character.

Jacquelyn Pearce installation, Seamen's Victoria Hall
I went to an afternoon reading from local writers' group The Pen and I and I attended an art exhibition with ethereal, magical work by Jacquelyn Pearce and others. I even went to a jazz concert (unheard of for me) and loved it. It wasn't that awful, crazy jazz but gorgeous, tight, classical jazz from the Tim Kliphuis Trio. Fab.

Beachcombed finds
And I walked in the rain and beachcombed and did some research for novel #4 and even wrote a little on trains, planes, buses.

The fishwifie from Fishertown at Nairn Harbour
And now I am thoroughly exhausted and prepping for next week's trip to the Cork Short Story Festival and all I've to do there. It's a fabulously social festival (Nairn wasn't that) so I need to gather my wits this week to be ready for the whirl of lunches, drinks, launches, readings, teaching, panels and chat with lovely story people I'll be meeting. Bring it on ;)

Nairn has some great town flower beds
Beach selfie in the rain

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Susan McCallum-Smith gives an extremely thoughtful once over to The Closet of Savage Mementos, and some of my other books, in The Dublin Review of Books. Her theme is motherhood in all its guises, a subject (obsessively) close to my heart. As a Scottish writer and mother, living in Ireland, who has personal experience of adoption, Susan is peculiarly well placed to review the book. She does a great (and humbling) job. Full review/essay here.

Monday, 1 September 2014


I have so many things coming up, that I thought I'd make a list here, in case any of you want to come to classes/workshops/readings, or you know people who might. Here's the schedule for Scotland, Cork, Tipperary, Wexford, Tallaght, Dublin city...

I'm doing a reading from The Closet of Savage Mementos and a Q&A with Peter Ross
Where: Nairn Book and Arts Festival, Scotland
When: Friday 5th September
More here

I'm teaching a 4-day course in The Novel
Where: Cork Short Story Festival
When: 17 - 20 September, daily 9.30am - 12.30pm
More here

I'm doing a short story reading with Matt Rader
Where: Cork Short Story Festival
When: 17th September,7pm
More here

I'm yapping on a panel with Patrick Chapman and Ladette Randolph, chair Jennifer Matthews
Where: Cork Short Story Festival
When: 20th September, 2.15pm
More here

I'm teaching a morning course in Flash Fiction and yapping on a panel
Where: Dromineer Literary Festival
When: Saturday 4th October
More here

I'm doing a reading from The Closet of Savage Mementos
Where: Wexford County Library
When: Sat. 11th October, 3pm

I'm doing a reading from The Closet of Savage Mementos at the Red Line Book Festival, with Donal Ryan, Dermot Bolger and John Sheahan
Where: Civic Theatre, Tallaght
When: Sat. 18th October, 2.30pm
More here

I'm teaching a 1 day course in Writing Effective Fiction
Where: The Irish Writers' Centre
When: Saturday 8th November
More here

And that's quite enough for now - I feel exhausted just looking at that list.

Saturday, 30 August 2014