I’m not one for talking about my personal life online – that’s another story – but on occasion something smashes that self-made separation.
Recently, it was the first year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Not long after came the news that an old friend’s mother had died, a woman I had felt very close to over the last 30 years.
This was followed soon by my mother’s birthday and then by Mother’s Day. All in a matter of weeks. It seemed mothers were in my air. My atmosphere. It was hard.
On Mother’s Day, I woke and decided to walk up Cave Hill. I thought. I came back and cooked a rare Mother’s Usual Sunday Roast for one. I opened the wine before one. I played Doris Day. I sang loudly. For hours. I sang for my mum. I sang in celebration. I sang in remembrance. I sang because of her. I sang in defiance of my neighbours. I sang in vanity. I sang, as the saying goes, my heart out. There were not a few tears.
I woke to two messages on Monday morning. Both talked about my story Tickles, written in 2014, before my novel came out, aired again, without my knowledge, on Mother’s Day. The story is about a man visiting his mother in a home. She has dementia. She hugs him and won’t let him go. In that forced fit, he time-travels (we call it remembering), and finds that, although she is the one with the disease that dissolves time and memories, he is the one that had forgotten, the key to understanding the fracture in their relationship. There is pain, there is remembering and then healing.
I don’t believe in God. I believe in little that has not been in front of my eyes, at some point, and I’d have included that which fuzzes in the corner but disappears in full gaze.
Do you believe in coincidences? Do I? What is it I just felt? Is it a thing people call God?
“Are you a new or emerging writer from a working class background? Would you like to be published alongside an Impac Award-winner, a Booker Prize-winner, two Sunday Times Short Story Award-winners, a senator, playwrights and poets? What about a professional development programme with the help of leading publishers and the Irish Writers Centre.”
Where I read from The Good Son, talk to Katy about books, World Book Day and The 32.
“On World Book Day, Kathy’s guests are writer Paul McVeigh, the cast of youth drama Crusaders and actor Matt Cavan. There’s music from Emma Horan, Johnny Fitch and the Leading Ladies, and Karishma Kusurkar has the pick of the podcasts.”
dlr LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre, Saturday March 28th, 1.30pm.
As editor, of ‘Belfast Stories’ anthology, I’ve been asked to chair this wonderful event. I do hope some of you can come.
“Chaired by novelist Paul McVeigh, we are pleased to welcome two of Belfast’s most compelling voices, Wendy Erskine and Lucy Caldwell for discussion and readings from Belfast stories. This collection of short fiction presents a composite view of local life which invites us to view Belfast afresh through the imaginations of some of its finest writers. Join us and hear each of our guests pay homage to contemporary Belfast in all its vivacity, multiplicity, and complexity.
Wendy Erskine lives in Belfast. Her debut collection of stories, Sweet Home, was published by The Stinging Fly Press in September 2018. It will be published by Picador in the UK in June 2019. Her stories have also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and on RTÉ Radio One.
Lucy Caldwell is the multi–award winning author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas and, most recently, two collections of short stories: Multitudes(Faber, 2016) and Intimacies (forthcoming, Faber, 2020). She is also the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019). Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Irish Writers’ and Screenwriters’ Guild Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Award (Canada & Europe), the Edge Hill Short Story Prize Readers’ Choice Award, a Fiction Uncovered Award, a K. Blundell Trust Award and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.