The 32 Has a Cover!

We’ve taken a big step on the way to publication – The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices has a cover! We hope you like it.

Our publisher Unbound will close the supporters’ list on Sunday, 7 February, which will be the last opportunity for you get your name in the back of the book. So if you’d like to have your name as a supporter of this historic book please head over and buy your book before Feb 7.

Contributors: Claire Allan, Kevin Barry, Dermot Bolger , June Caldwell, Martin Doyle, Roddy Doyle, Rosaleen McDonagh, Lyra McKee, Lisa McInerney, Dave Lordan, Danielle McLaughlin, Eoin McNamee, Michael Nolan, Senator Lynn Ruane, Rick O’Shea and Dr Michael Pierse.

Interviewing Booker Prize-Winner Douglas Stuart at Jaipur

Interviewing Booker Prize-Winner Douglas Stuart Author of ‘Shuggie Bain’

Although I won’t be travelling to India for the breathtaking Jaipur Literature Festival, I am delighted to be attending virtually to interview the current Booker Prize-Winner Douglas Stuart.


You can check out the full line-up and resister for events here.

“The Good Son is a work of genius from a splendid writer.”

Pulitzer Prize-Winner Robert Olen Butler

“A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.” 

Donal Ryan


I’m taking part in a panel event at the day long symposium: PROPHETS, MAKERS AND RISK TAKERS: A SHOWCASE OF WRITING FROM NORTHERN IRELAND, 14 January 2021, Online, 9.15am – 5.15pm.

My event is PROMOTING WRITERS IN NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONALLY: Peggy Hughes: National Centre for Writing (Chair), Nora Hickey M’Sichil: Centre Culturel Irlandais, Jim Hinks: British Council and me, at 2pm.

It’s all FREE and you can register here.

9.15am         Welcome and Introductions

9.30am         Panel discussion: Contemporary Issues in Northern Irish Writing

10.45am       Panel discussion: New Approaches to the Northern Irish Story  

12pm            Workshop: How to Increase your Presence Outside N.I.

2pm              Panel discussion: Promoting Writers in Northern Ireland Internationally

3pm              Keynote Address by Dr Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado

                    “This Must Be the Place”: Mapping Contemporary Women’s Writing from Northern Ireland.

4pm              A Showcase of Writers in Northern Ireland (video)

4.30pm         Panel Discussion and Q&A

5.15pm         Thanks and close

Download the Programme here

Judging Word Factory Apprentice Award



Word Factory is open for applications to the Word Factory Apprentice Award 2021 in partnership with the Northern Writers’ Awards and the Society of Authors. Applicants must be over 18, of any nationality or descent but permanently resident in England, serious about developing their short story writing and passionate about working with the Word Factory team. 

The judges will select two award winners, one of whom must be based in the north. We are delighted that this year our mentors are Toby Litt and Catherine Menon. The award will be judged by co-founders Cathy Galvin and Paul McVeigh, joined this year by writer Leone Ross and New Writing North’s Will Mackie.

This is your opportunity to join the distinguished Word Factory Apprentice Award alumnae. Previous winners of our mentoring award have achieved industry recognition – including publication with independent and mainstream publishers such as Salt and Faber and awards and shortlistings including the Guardian BAME prize, Bath Flash Fiction Prize, Wasafiri and McKitterick Prize.

Apprentice Award winners will:

* Have one-on-one mentorship over a six to nine month period with a leading author + a bursary. 

* Be invited to read with their mentor at a Word Factory event, online or at a venue to be decided.

* Be offered additional support from Word Factory director Cathy Galvin.

* Have free admission to our salons and a selection of masterclasses. Our northern winner will benefit from writer-development activities offered by our partner, New Writing North. 

* Receive free membership to the writer’s union, the Society of Authors.

* Be promoted by us on our website and on social media.

In exchange, we expect dedication to the craft and ethos of the Word Factory. We are looking for writers who will contribute their time in helping us run and promote events, work with us online and offer their skills to the team.

How To Apply:

Please apply if you are working seriously on your writing and would benefit from our scheme at this stage of your career. You may have already had stories published or be at the stage of thinking about sending work out for publication. We will be looking for dedication and understanding of the art and craft of the form and for individuals willing to work within our team. Please Note: the scheme is not suitable for anyone with novels or collections already published or under contract (writers of self-published and non-fiction books may apply).

Writers living in the North of England, should apply via the Northern Writers’ Award and do not need to use this Eventbrite portal. If you live in the north, go direct to where you will find the entry portal for the Word Factory Northern Apprentice Award. The northern application process deadline is February 18th 2021. 

To clarify what is defined as “the north” for the purposes of this award, please refer to this map:

Everyone else living in England should apply here:

* Use this Eventbrite page to buy your ticket. The £10 fee covers administration and goes towards supporting our not-for-profit work. 

* After you have purchased your ticket, you will receive an email confirmation with an order number. Keep that number safe.

* Prepare your application: we need you to send us two things: a 400 word letter explaining how you will benefit from the award and how you will contribute to our work as a team. You will also need to enclose a sample of your work – a story or extract from a story no longer than 2000 words long. 

* Send your letter and your work to us at wfaward@thewordfactory.tvwith your Eventbrite ticket order number in the subject header and body of the email. Please also tell us where you live and it’s useful to know how you like to identify yourself. We are keen to support marginalised writers.

* Please note: it is a requirement of entry that the Eventbrite ticket order number is included in your application. 

* Applications OPEN: November 26th 2020.

* Applications (other than the north) CLOSE: February 28th 2021

* Winners are announced in June 2021 via the Word Factory and the Northern Writers’ Awards. 

Due to the high numbers of applications expected, we will not be contacting you if your application has been unsuccessful. 

If you can’t afford the £10 fee, write in confidence to us at and we may be able to offer you a free application or concession.

Listen Share Change Xmas Reading



A while ago I did an event Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, for this project.

Listen Share Change is a partnership between Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Verbal Arts Centre. A four year Peace IV-funded project running until 2022, bringing communities together with shared reading and conversation. It aims to build positive relations between people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

This Friday I’m doing an event for their volunteers, reading my own Xmas story ‘Malibu Barbie Christmas’, and talking about writing with them.


The Good Son: Won The Polari Prize & The McCrea Literary Award

“The Good Son is a work of genius from a splendid writer.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler

“A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.” Donal Ryan

BBC Scotland: On TV Tonight

Tonight at 10pm the Big Scottish Book Club hosted by Damian Barr includes Jessica Fellowes, Graeme Armstrong and me reading from our books and discuss class and Courtney Stoddart closes with a rousing poem – on BBC Scotland at the link below.

I talk about ‘The 32’ & ‘Common People’ from Unbound and ‘The Good Son’ from Salt Publishing.

I hopeyou enjoy you can catch it – of not lve then on BBC Iplayer.

Prizes for Belfast Youth

I created a lockdown writing competition with Ardoyne Youth Enterprise. There were three categories based on age with the theme Children of Lockdown. The prizes were awarded this week and I went to the offices to sign books and certificates. You can read the winning entires here.

This was a follow on from the videos I made of The Good Son for AYE during the first lockdown.

With thanks to Arts Council of Northern Ireland for supporting me during the making of those.

Your Local Arena presents: Three Irish Writers

Your Local Arena presents: Three Irish Writers

films, poetry, writing masterclass

Screening from 10am on Tuesday 10 November 2020 to 10pm on Saturday 14 November 2020

It has been said that the English hoard words like misers and the Irish spend them like sailors. This Arena film presents three great Irish masters of the English language, Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan. Anthony Cronin, poet, friend and fellow drinker, recalls their genius and their wild exploits in Dublin.’ 

First shown in 1991, Arena’s Three Irish Writers is a unique look at the social history of Dublin and three of its most infamous writers. A classic from the BBC archive, it offers a rare glimpse of an era long gone, when culture was part of the everyday and the everyday an intrinsic part of culture.

For five days only, Cúirt International Festival of Literature at Galway Arts Centre brings you this memorable Arena film, produced by Kay Meynell and Rosemary Wilton. Commenting on the film’s portrait of three brilliant writers and the times they lived in are four contemporary Irish authors: Jaki McCarrickPaul McVeighCiara Ní É and Jessica Traynor. Enjoy new poems inspired by the film from Belfast-Jamaican poet Raquel McKee and Irish-Indian British poet John Siddique, and learn how to start your own personal writing journey with a masterclass from acclaimed author Gabriel Gbadamosi. Watch here.

Your Local Arena is an Arts Council England-funded project, produced by Speaking Volumes and Lucy Hannah, featuring the BBC’s Arena film archive.

ARENAThree Irish Writers (1991)

(Producers: Kate Meynell and Rosemary Wilton; series editors Nigel Finch and Anthony Wall)

Watch the BBC Arena film here.

Part of: