“The gun” short story& my one minute to convince you to read it vlog

I love “The gun” by Mark Haddon, have a watch and see if you might like it too!

You can listen to the podcast here where Mark chats to Granta about his story and the writing process at http://granta.com/Granta-Audio-Mark-Haddon/


You can also download a pdf of it to save to your tablet/kindle or print it out here https://web1.asl.org/jambalaya/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mark-Haddon-The-Gun.pdf

My one minute vlog is up on youtube and it is my first try! See it here.



The Hay Festival 2016:Kells

This was my first time at the Hay Festival in Kells. I have never even been to Kells and it is a pleasant little town! I was attending the festival as a V.I.P with Simon who was reading there too as a first!

We stayed with friends so were able to nip in quickly enough to the town. There was loads of events on for kids so Emrys got to listen to stories and scribble away to his heart’s desire.

They had many, many big name and a mix of commercial, literary and a focus more so on the reading element as opposed to the writing. The organisers were really warm and welcoming to us and it is possibly the friendliest Lit festival I have attended yet.

The Green Room was located in a wonderful treasure cave of a second hand bookshop cafe and we had plenty coffee, fruit and biscuits. We were also treated to a lovely lunch in the nearby hotel.

I went to see Simon who was a guest speaker at an Amnesty International event with Colm O’ Gorman, Exec Director and they spoke about the refugee crisis. Colm is so passionate and cares so much about human rights issues, I was delighted that Emrys was kept very quiet with a bag of baby books the event organisers gave to him!

Simon took Emrys off the next day and I got to enjoy a full hour of Kevin Barry and Matthew Spangler talking about how Beatlebone should be directed if Matthew were in control! For the last half an hour of the discussion, Kevin and Matthew discussed the various ideas that had been floated on staging Beatlebone, the musical options, the actors and the budget! It was simply a unique format and I was glad for it as sometimes the typical reading of the novel can get a bit yawny.

This was all we managed to get to but we did well, just sauntering around the town and taking it in. I would definitely recommend it, the festival brochure is thick and chunky and full of events for everyone, a real inclusive one.

Thanks, Hay Festival and all who run it! From what I saw, you rocked!



Red dirt-the book of summer 2016

Red dirt is a novel written by Elizabeth Reapy, former editor of Wordlegs. Firstly, I am always in awe of someone who writes a chunky novel like this and secondly I am in serious awe that it manages to engage a “normally” only short story reader like me!


It is a story which is divided into three sections. Elizabeth succeeds in writing in three very interesting voices and very different styles of narration. She really did not go for easy! The characters are all young, Irish people who have headed off to Australia for different reasons and at the end their worlds collide. It is an Irish novel written in what is becoming a very Irish setting, Oz.

I cannot recommend this book more for a summer read. It will keep you reading from the very start until the end. Never a hard read but never an easy one either, if you can see what I mean! The content is edgy, the dialogue is hilarious and spot-on Irish throughout. The girl has done good. Mayo people can be proud.

Red Dirt is published by Head of Zeus and it really is in every good bookshop everywhere!

Belfast Book Festival 2016

We had a nice city break in the compact and cool city of Belfast. Mum came with us and the M-boy and Simon was doing his poetry thing. He was reading with the Doire Poets showcase in the Crescent Arts Centre. Mum stayed with M-boy very kindly as he really does not quite dig poetry just yet!


We arrived in and the lovely and very poetic Stephen Connolly welcomed us to the lovely Green Room. It was a super Green Room full of nice beverages, treats, dips and sweet things to munch on and drink while we waited.

Stephanie Conn and Michael J. Whelan were also reading with Simon and we had a lovely chat with them and their families who were up to support them.

Simon’s Uncle and Aunty were in the audience to listen to Simon, which he was delighted with as they live in Canada but were in Belfast that week.

Stephanie read from her debut collection, the woman on the other side and Michael’s collection is called Peacekeeper. Stephanie reads very well, I discovered she is a teacher so that explains her excellent reading voice though Michael read his poetry about his experiences of war with emotions well too.

Simon read 6 of his poems and it feels like Ground hog day as over the last five years of him writing these poems, I have heard them again and again. He was still great and sounded very fresh!

Afterwards, we had a drink with Stephen Connolly and we talked about all of the inside gossip of the fiction and poetry world. He walked us to a Japanese restaurant called Sakura in the University District that he recommended and it was really good.

It was a shame I didn’t get to the Short story talk but it was on at the same time as the Doire Press folk and I had to make a choice. Jan Carsen and other new Irish short story writers were speaking but I am sure I will catch them again.


The Belfast Book Festival is one I would love to see more of but we took time to explore the Black Cab tours of political Belfast and Long’s Fish and Chips restaurant too. A girl cannot spend her time obsessing over books, you know but No Alibis Bookshop was sussed out in the end as was a really nice coffee shop that did refined sugar free goodies in it called Kaffe-O. A Hotel Chocolate shop may have been visited too.

Granta New Irish Writing

Am making my way slowly through this stunning-looking magazine. It is full of “new writing” and not “new writers” at all! This is good though as many of my fave writers are in this.

Donal Ryan has a piece from his forthcoming novel and as always he is sickeningly brilliant at hooking the reader in within seconds. The story sounds brilliant, cannot wait to get a copy.


The Granta mag also has some really, really nice photos of the Travelling community and a disadvantaged estate in Ireland. It’s funny that girls in communion dresses always seem to pop up in a photographic feature on Ireland. Time for a show on the other cultures and religions we have in Ireland?

Anyway, the photos are not only pleasant to gaze at but they are going to be brilliant for using as inspiration for my own writing and any writing classes I may teach in the new term in September.
Granta New Irish Writing Magazine is available in Easons and all good bookshops as well as the granta.com website.

Granta New Irish Writing: Nuala O’ Connor and Kevin Barry freebies!

The Granta New Irish Writing was reviewed by Eileen Battersby a few weeks back and she seemed unimpressed with many of the stories and writing in the new issue of Granta New Irish Writing. I can see her point about the title being “New Irish Writing” but perhaps the editors meant new Irish writing by established and well-loved Irish authors!


In this issue, we have the lovely Kevin Barry( and an black and white photo of him.) writing about his time in and love of Cork city. Fascinating, as always I am hooked into his every written word!  Also there are pieces from Colm Tóibín, Emma Donaghue, Sara Baume, Colin Barrett, Roddy Doyle, Siobhán Mannion, Belinda McKeon, Sally Rooney, Donal Ryan, and William Wall and more.

In fact, Eileen raved about William Wall so much that I broke my “No buying books” New Year’s resolution and ordered his new short story collection from Doire Press!

I am enjoying reading the free stories and writing on the Granta website and finished a nice short story by Nuala Ní Chonchúir called “Mayo, oh, Mayo” and have to admit the title drew me in being from Mayo myself. Enjoyed the scenes of Knock basilica and delighted with the ending!

You can find the freebies here.


Mark Haddon and “beige” short stories

Mark Haddon is the author of “The curious incident of the dog at night-time”, a brilliant novel about a teenage mathematician who has behavioural and social issues. It is really good and funny and sad. But, he also writes short stories and writes them very well too.

He wrote this amazing short story called “The Gun” and it was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Awards a few years back. You can hear him read it here and I strongly recommend that you do.

the pier falls


I reviewed it back then and it was my favourite and I hoped it would win. It didn’t and a least fave story of mine did instead. No matter, Mark is back with a new short story collection called The Pier Falls on May 5th. He is quite the outspoken and self-assured writer, which is why I really like him and his writing as I think having a real personality shines in the writing!

I have been reading a couple of articles he wrote on the short story form and how he writes recently and in this one, he talks about Wells Tower’s Everything Burned, Everything Ravaged short story collection which I loved, loved, loved. The title story is one of Mark’s most loved because of its sheer humour and bravery in actually being fiction! I agree with Mark that too many short stories now are quite “meh” and “slow” and nothing at all happens. In other words, they are quite like real life, I want my fiction to be, well, fiction! It drives me slightly ever so mad when someone is reading a piece of fiction and wonders if it would really happen in life! No, of course, it wouldn’t. That is why it is a piece of imaginary ficiton. Those people are recommended to go pick up a memoir or a book of non-fiction if they want “realistic” James Wood in his book “how fiction works” talks about how fiction should be lifelike and written as a piece of art. Something that makes the reader think about what the artist might be trying to say. I think fiction needs to be entertaining and get me thinking too.

Mark Haddon finishes his thoughts by saying that ““Werner” and “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard are the two stories he has read that combine those two things about fiction that I love-the “fictional stories in which nothing happens and real-life stories in which everything happens.”

You can read all of Mark’s article here on the Guardian website and his new collection, The pier falls is out May 5th with Jonathan Cape.


William Wall’s new short story collection-Hearing Voices/Seeing Things

Hearing Voices/Seeing Things by William Wall and published by Doire Press was ordered on Sunday and arrived today, Tuesday. The very quick Lisa Frank had it out to me super fast and I cannot wait to get stuck in and am reserving some time while M-boy( 20-month baby/toddler/messer of ours) has a little nap.


I know, I know. I promised not to purchase any more books but I am slowly working my way through the ones I have and when I read Eileen Battersby praising Mr. Wall on his writing in the Granta anthology of New Irish Writing, I had to click the order button. If you are going to blame anyone for the purchase, I would lay the blame at Eileens’ Battersby’s door. Or Doire Press. Or William Wall.

Now, off to get into the book. Ta ta. Be good.

Teaching fiction for the Carlow Writers’ group

I developed and taught a short module on fiction this morning for the Carlow Writers’ Co-operative group that I am a member of. The group are fundraising for a travel bursary so I was eager to help out!


I am a primary school teacher by day and give courses for teachers in the evening. This was the first adult-type learning course I had given in creative writing. I was nervous but I really enjoyed it. I used all of my knowledge of teaching methodologies and planning and some of the challenges I face as a writer of short stories. I wrote while my students wrote, which I believe is of huge importance. I am not a big fan of the writing teacher who sits and watches or walks around while the students write. If the teacher is writing alongside her students then it helps him/her to relate to the challenges along the way. It was also a sneaky way for me to write!

This morning, we focused on setting and how writers like Claire Keegan have dealt with setting. I am going to add a tab on creative writing prompts that I use or have seen being used on rozz.ie so feel free to use and adapt! Would love to hear what you think.


Is Easons a bookstore or a stationary shop?

I was in Sligo Town last week and had a little browse in the two bookshops I could find there-Liber and Easons. Liber was very cute with a big emphasis on cookbooks, healthy eating and children’s books too as well as a section on poetry and literary titles. Easons, which was next door, was basically a magazine, gift and stationary shop. I am not lying! There were a few random books as in the Top ten type. Mostly cookbooks again. I bought a new cookbook and left feeling all sad.


I went to Dundrum Town Centre the other day and was shocked to find that the whole centre only has one bookshop. Well, what they call a bookshop. Easons again. It is a big premises but again seemed to focus on eating, top ten, buy one get one half price type affairs. All in all, they had 6 shelves for fiction. By fiction, I mean crime novels or Top Ten. They had a two small shelves called “Literary” and it stocked mostly 1916, Yeats, Heaney, plays and many dictionaries! They had two copies of Danielle Mac Laughlin’s short story collection and many of both Claire Keegan’s short story collections. Dundrum had an amazing bookshop called Hughes and Hughes but that sadly passed away at the same time the Abercrombie and Fitch store opened. Connection?

Easons in O’ Connell Street was the biggest shock to me really. The whole ground floor was made up of Top tens, magazines and the 1916 books took over half of the floor. At the back is where Easons of O’ Connell street house the fiction. I was specifically looking for David Means, a pretty well-known short story and novelist. They did not have and the lady on the customer services did not know either who he was and told me that they stocked “plenty” short story writers like Anne Enright and Belinda Mc Keon. Right.

I am worried about the fact that independent bookshops are not able to make it anymore. When we first moved to Carlow, we had a wonderful second hand and used bookshop called Paul’s. He sold up and the building was taken over by DNG.

Luckily, in Dublin City, we have some pretty cool, independent bookshops but why are more and more people buying non-literary books like crime, romance and cookbooks as opposed to beautiful, “make you feel good about words and sentences and life” literature? I but most my books on the book depository because I have nowhere in Carlow or nearby to get the books I want. If there was a great bookshop in Carlow, I’d go and buy. Any takers?

But, seriously, Easons and seriously, Dundrum Town Centre, you might want to check yourself.