Books, Journalism, Writing

Aspiring authors flock to Dublin’s International Literature Festival

Thousands of writers are heading to Dublin city in Ireland this week in the hope of gleaning advice, encouragement and inspiration at the International Literature Festival.

I spoke to festival director Martin Colthorpe about what keeps drawing people back nearly 20 years on, as well as authors Vanessa O’Loughlin, Catherine Ryan Howard and literary agent Sallyanne Sweeney on their advice to get your book on the shelves.

Have a watch of my 3News report for TV3 Ireland:

 

Writing

Inspirational Women Series: #2 – My grandmother

This is the face of a fighter. Not one who swings punches or gets in the ring. One who has the kind of inner strength you hope for in dark times, a resilience that never fails.

Aged 90, she has battled Alzheimers now for a decade, and it’s not just a physical battle where the body degenerates, but it is – of course – a mental battle. Beyond struggling for words, forgetting birthdays, imagining missing children… thoughts become jumbled fragments and your family are strangers.

Illness does not discriminate. The sadness, anger and frustration lingers, that this could happen and there’s no way to stop it. That to some she is a number and not a person. What is the hardest is when people think she’s stopped existing. She is still a human being full of love and gratitude. She may not recognise those she was once close to, but that doesn’t mean the effort shouldn’t be made to see her, to talk to her, and to try and make her day better.

My Nana wakes up every day with the determination to keep fighting. She is a true warrior who does not see a future with a disease – she sees a life despite it. She has faced it head on and refuses to let it dominate her. She still holds on to her soul, the very essence of who she is, and that has meant everything to me. She still smiles, she hums fragments of songs, her eyes light up when she hears one of our voices. Her mischievous laugh lifts my spirit and makes the bad days worthwhile.

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She would always give us anything, whatever we needed, even if it meant she had to go without. And even now that is who she is. She does not know who I am but still tells me ‘alright my love’ and that I am ‘a nice child’. How does a person who is supposed to have forgotten everything still remember how to be kind?

I was scared, when she was diagnosed. The future flashed before me, the unknown, but the all too apparent reality. I did not want to let go of the person I knew.

Nana and me

I wish someone had told me back then that you find ways to go on. You find happiness in the small moments. And somehow you find the courage to walk through the door and know that a person you have loved for your entire life will look at you blankly as if it is the first time they have ever seen you.

And you do it for them, because they are fighting for you. They are still there, for you. They are still smiling, for you.

It takes unimaginable strength to keep going. But she has.

Nana

Writing

Inspirational Women Series – #1 Sr Martina

I never imagined being besties with a nun.

In fact, this particular nun used to be rather intimidating to us as children. We’d don the white altar server robes and knot the gold belt before mass, and someone would peek out the door and spot her in the first few church pews, her sharp eyes scanning each of us to make sure we were properly presented.

Continue reading “Inspirational Women Series – #1 Sr Martina”

Theatre, Writing

Shakespeare 400 years on: more myth than man?

Much mystery surrounds the legend that is Shakespeare. We don’t know much about his early life, how he began his career in the theatre, or even whether some of his most iconic creations are really his work at all.

The shadow of his status makes him more myth than man. But maybe that’s part of his appeal. That shroud of secrecy lends itself well to his legacy.

Continue reading “Shakespeare 400 years on: more myth than man?”

Writing

Why I studied creative writing at university

Nearly seven years ago, and I really can’t believe it was that long, I began my degree at NUI Galway in Ireland. I chose Galway for one reason only: I could study creative writing there. As someone who had been interested in words, books and literature ever since I could remember, it seemed a natural choice.

Continue reading “Why I studied creative writing at university”

Theatre, Writing

Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Globe in London is going all out this year in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. Film adaptation screenings along the South Bank, a world tour of Hamlet, and a season by a new artistic director: it’s certainly going to be a year to remember.

Continue reading “Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare”

Books, Writing

Visiting Haworth, the home of the Brontës

Haworth is a rural village on a steep hill, surrounded by fields of heather and a bitter breeze. The parsonage, where the Brontë sisters grew up and lived, is easily the biggest building there. It sits by tall trees and crooked gravestones, and is filled with remnants of the family’s lives; it does feel like they’ve just popped out for a walk on the moor. Continue reading “Visiting Haworth, the home of the Brontës”

Writing

Quote of the Week: Mark Gatiss

I’ve never actually written a script where I didn’t know who the Doctor was going to be. You just start thinking about the actor’s voice, speech patterns, mannerisms, and the whole attitude.

– Mark Gatiss

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: Mark Gatiss”

Writing

Where does creative inspiration come from?

Now that I’ve graduated from my masters, I’ve had more time to focus on my creative work.

But how do you turn off that editorial side of your brain? As a journalist, I’ve become accustomed to writing and editing almost simultaneously.

Continue reading “Where does creative inspiration come from?”

Image copyright: Tony Antoniou
Writing

Review of The British Library exhibition ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’

Last week The British Library opened a major new exhibition on the Gothic imagination. Running until 20 January 2015, it marks 250 years of the supernatural in literature and film, starting with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764.

Continue reading “Review of The British Library exhibition ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’”

Writing

Review: One-day Urban Writing Retreat, London

It’s quickly clear that Charlie Haynes has hit on an entrepreneurial concept that works: writers will pay good money to sit in a room without the distractions of the phone or the Internet.

Continue reading “Review: One-day Urban Writing Retreat, London”

Photography, Writing

Nana – A Poem

Today is a day for family, and to remember.

I don’t know any other way but to turn to words in sad times.

My grandmother holds a very special place in my heart, and she makes me realise that happy memories make all the difference.

Continue reading “Nana – A Poem”

Books, Writing

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

Does a cover really have that much influence on whether or not we choose to read a book?

The New York Times recently published an article about new book covers being created for ‘classic’ novels to attract young-adult readers. Continue reading “Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?”

Writing

Writing Tip of the Day: Ernest Hemingway

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’

So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.

The writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

– ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Image courtesy of poetryfoundation.org