Storytelling from Wexford’s past in this intimate courtyard space, tucked against the ancient town wall by St John’s Gate. Sinister tales of haunted people: haunted by the Sidhe; by the glamour and ambition of the Opera; by a serial killer; by numbers; by the 1798 rebellion; by the fear and shame of an industrial school, or by a combination of mould, slugs, a flooded backyard and writers’ block. Don’t miss it, and bring a coat.
In my July newsletter I describe my humble contribution to this month’s Wexford Literary Festival and review recent novels from two fellow members of the Irish Historical Novel Society: Derville Murphy’s A Perfect Copy and Katie Hutton’s Annie of Ainsworth’s Mill.
Yesterday evening I went to an opening of the extension to my favourite local independent bookshop, Red Books, in Wexford town. There was a great crowd and a fantastic atmosphere, with speeches and cutting of the red ribbon followed by music and spoken word. Wally O’Neill, the owner, has done huge work supporting local writers including launching two periodicals and publishing novels and poetry.
Wally O’Neill speaking
We were within a sprawling labyrinth of books: new, second-hand and antiquarian – I’d want to be locked in overnight!
When I lived in the suburbs of Birmingham my nearest bookshop was Waterstone’s (a chain) in the city centre. I’m so fortunate to have this within a 15 minute drive, as well as a number of other bookshops in the town including The Book Centre, Reader’s Paradise, Selskar Bookshop, and Byrne’s. Wexford’s emulating Hay-on-Wye, and will rise to fame for its bookshops and literary festival.
In this dual timeline historical novel two different people bring identical 19th century portraits to an auction. But is one of them original and the other a copy? Which one is which? Who is the beautiful woman in the painting, and what is her story?
In A PERFECT COPY Derville Murphy displays her expertise in art history as well as a flair for bringing to life the social history of another age. She explores the Jewish community of the 19th century, starting in what is now Ukraine, and bringing the reader to Vienna and London, while the contemporary thread of her story is set in Dublin. Both threads of her intriguing novel explore the fractured intricacies of family relationships, ending on a romantic note.
The book launch for A PERFECT COPY forms part of the Wexford Literary Arts Festival (link) and takes place at 11.30 on Saturday 2nd July in the Book Centre, Main St, Wexford.
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!