This month I’m agonising over the blurb for my forthcoming novel City of Famine. I share a few observations on the Bellotto exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Today, 10th December, it’s the 206th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace (the ‘mother of computer programming’) so I revisit my short story The Analytical Assurance Company (link). And I review Black Dragonfly, Jean Pasley’s fictionalised biography of Lafcadio Hearn.
For Remembrance Day, a story about the Eastern Front: set in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, where the Garden of Eden became a theatre of war. https://wp.me/P2aHMc-g4
Having set up a writers’ forum for my local writing group here on this website, I am now besieged with spam registration requests, which I nuke every day on a wholesale basis. It’s irritating but the spam names do make me laugh sometimes!
I might write a Halloween short story about ‘Napoleon Schippers’, ‘Magdalena Gaskin’, and ‘Chau Krome’: just a few of the hapless employees of ‘Butikbagus.com’, who go on to become the victims of extremely detailed, throat-slitting and eyeball-popping murders.
This month I reflect on a small writing workshop I’m holding with my local writing group and introduce two writers you may not have heard of:
Cheryl Underhill, a childhood friend, who has compiled her parents’ WW2 correspondence into a fascinating book ‘The Box of Beautiful Letters’ and Rose Cullen, a fellow member of the Irish chapter of the Historical Novel Society, whose debut novel ‘The Lucky Country’ is an epic tale of an Irish family’s emigration to Australia in the 1950s.
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Wexford Literary Festival will again be held online this year, from 1st – 4th July 2021, and has attracted an international field of competition entries for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award, the Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award, the Billy Roche International Short Play Award, the Eoin Colfer International Children’s Short Story Award, and the Denis Collins Literary Art Award.
A full programme of interviews and spoken word events will include WEXPRESSIONS involving approximately 10 Wexford Women Writers (including me!). This will be a variety of poetry and prose showcasing the variety of women writing in our vibrant county and the unique locations that inspire us.
Last year I was very fortunate that the Festival’s ‘Meet the Publisher’ Competition, offering an interview with Paula Campbell of Poolbeg Press, led to the publication of my novel ‘Heart of Cruelty’, the first of a three-book contract. Paula is a pleasure to talk to, genuinely enthusiastic about historical fiction, and I have really enjoyed working with Poolbeg and their excellent editor Gaye Shortland. Work on my next book continues!
For more information, look for the Wexford Literary Festival on Twitter or Facebook, or check their website at wexfordliteraryfestival.com
When I wrote Peace Walls in 2012 I did not foresee peace in Northern Ireland unravelling and hoped that time would bring healing.
Free to read on my website (link), it’s a time shift short story set in Northern Ireland about a fictional sectarian murder and the long term consequences for the people who knew the victim.
The research for this was painful at times, in particular reading ‘Bear in Mind These Dead’ by Susan McKay (link), which is a factual account of some of the victims of the Troubles. The Historical Enquiries Team video on YouTube (link) was also an inspiration, as was Alan M Wilson’s ‘Policing Ireland’s Twisted History’(link).
In 2021 we need more than ever to uphold the ideal of peace. Politicians must get to work. The current difficulties in implementing Brexit have to be solved by negotiation. Walls should not be needed. Let’s reconcile histories and old divisions and work on what we all have in common, for the sake of our young people and their future.
The April issue of The HistWriter newsletter comes to you from Wexford in Ireland.
This month I look at Wexford’s links to the first invasion of Ireland by the English, and review a trio of novels by Irish historical writers. Susan Lanigan, Patricia O’Reilly and Derville Murphy are all fellow members of the Irish branch of the Historical Novel Society, with whom I’ve ‘found my tribe’.