Editor: Belfast Stories Anthology

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Join Doire Press for the launch of Belfast Stories. It is a collection of short fiction set throughout the neighbourhoods of the city, written by both established and emerging writers, who live in or have a strong connection to Belfast.

The writers in Belfast Stories include: Linda Anderson, Lucy Caldwell, Jan Carson, Wendy Erskine, Jamie Guiney, Peter Hollywood, Caoilinn Hughes, Rosemary Jenkinson, Winnie M Li, Bernie McGill, Michael Nolan, David Park, Glenn Patterson, Ian Sansom, Dawn Watson and Shannon Yee.

The anthology also features photos and background information on each neighbourhood, as well as local listings and a map displaying where each of the stories takes place.

The preface and photos are by Malachi O’Doherty.

This launch event will include readings by some of the writers featured in the anthology, including Jan Carson, Bernie McGill, Dawn Watson and Shannon Yee, among others, and will be launched by Damian Smyth.

Date Sunday 09 June 2019
Time 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
PriceA Free Event

 

Me, Nicole Flattery, Lucy Caldwell & Lisa McInerney

Being Various: New Irish Short Stories

Edited By Lucy Caldwell

With Lisa McInerney, Nicole Flattery & Paul McVeigh

Celebrate the current golden age of the short story in Ireland with the publication of Being Various. A spellbinding selection of Ireland’s most exciting new writers anthologised by Belfast’s own Lucy Caldwell, who will be in conversation with three of the writers.

Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast in 1981. She is the author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and a collection of short stories. Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Imison Award, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Canada & Europe), the Irish Playwrights’ and Screenwriters’ Guild Award, 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.

Lisa McInerney’s work has featured in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, Granta, The Guardian, BBC Radio 4and various anthologies. Her story Navigation was longlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. Her debut novel The Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, won the 2018 RSL Encore Award.

Nicole Flattery‘s stories have been published in The Irish Times, The Dublin Review, The White Review, Winter Papers and The Stinging Fly. She is a recipient of a Next Generation Artists’ Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and The White Review Short Story Prize. Originally from County Westmeath, Nicole now lives in Galway.

Paul McVeigh was born in Belfast. He is the author of one novel, The Good Son, which won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. He is also the author of many essays, plays and short stories which have been read on BBC Radio 3, 4 and 5.

Date Saturday 15 June 2019
Time 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Price£10 | £8
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Me, Louise Doughty and Kit de Waal talk Working Class Writers

Common People: An Anthology Of Working-Class Writers

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Kit De Waal, Paul McVeigh & Louise Doughty

I’m really looking forward to this event at Belfast Book Festival and this one will be a corker with the two authors I admire and also love spending time with. Here’s the burb!

“This new anthology of writing has been collated by Kit de Waal in response to a concern that the working-class voice is still a marginalised one.

Bringing together thirty-three contributors, Common People is a book of essays, poetry and memoir that reflects upon the diverse experiences of growing up working-class.

A celebration told through the eyes of some of our most celebrated writers and brand new as-yet-unpublished writers.

Join Kit de Waal, Paul McVeigh and Louise Doughty as they discuss writing that seeks to illuminate the voices of the many not the few.

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and a Caribbean father. She has published two novels, My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time. My Name is Leon, her debut novel, was an international bestseller and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year in 2016. Her second novel, The Trick to Time, followed in April 2018. She established the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Scholarship at Birkbeck University to help improve working-class representation in the arts.

Paul McVeigh was born in Belfast. He is the author of one novel, The Good Son, which won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. He is also the author of many essays, plays and short stories which have been read on BBC Radio 3, 4 and 5.

Born in the East Midlands and grew up in Rutland, Louise Doughty has published ninenovels, including Black Water and Apple Tree Yard which was adapted into a BBC series. She is the author of nine novels, including Black Water which was nominated as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and Apple Tree Yard which was adapted into a BBC series starring Emily Watson. Her novels have been nominated for the Costa Novel Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, among others. She is also the author of many radio dramas, short stories and one non-fiction book A Novel in a Year.”

Date Friday 14 June 2019
Time 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Price£10 | £8

 

How To Get Published – Belfast

How To Get Published – Belfast in association w/ Writers & Artists and the Open University

8th June 2019 – 9:30am to 4:00pm

Overview

We’re pleased to be partnering with The Open University to bring a day of advice on the writing and publishing process. This full-day conference, held in the heart of Belfast, includes talks on various aspects of the writing journey from best-selling authors, a networking lunch and an informative interactive panel discussion with leading literary agents.

If you’re an aspiring writer with a manuscript and ready to submit, or simply at the beginning of your writing journey, don’t miss out on what promises to be a day essential to helping you work towards producing a publishable manuscript.

Schedule

09.30-10.00: Registration and welcome teas and coffees

10.00-11.00: How to build a narrative with Paul McVeigh

11.00-11.20: Comfort break

11.20-12.20: Researching the story with Garrett Carr 

12.20-13.30: Lunch break (lunch included)

13.30-14.30: Creating your protagonist with Geraldine Quigley

14.30-14.50: Comfort break

14.50-16.00: How to submit your work to agents and independent presses: practical tips from literary agent Nicola Barr and editor Patsy Horton

16.00-17.00: Reception

I’m chairing Iain Archer, Lucy Caldwell, and ‘Derry Girls’ writer Lisa McGee

An Evening with Iain Archer, Lucy Caldwell, and Lisa McGee, chaired by Paul McVeigh.

The three Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows for 2019, Iain Archer, Lucy Caldwell, and Lisa McGee will reflect on their diverse creative practices, in conversation with writer Paul McVeigh.

This is the closing event for the Writing Through Conflict symposium, hosted by the School of AEL and the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, in partnership with National Museums NI.

Iain Archer is a Grammy nominated musician from Bangor, who has written and produced for artists such as Snow Patrol, Jake Bugg, Liam Gallagher and James Bay. He has received two Ivor Novello Awards and a third nomination. As well as his critically acclaimed solo career, Iain is a member of the band Tired Pony.

Lucy Caldwell is an award-winning Belfast-born author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and a collection of short stories. She is the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019).

Lisa McGee is a stage and screen writer from Derry, she studied Drama at Queen’s University Belfast. Her plays include The Heights, Nineteen Ninety Two, and Girls and Dolls, and Jump, which has been adapted into a film. Lisa is the acclaimed writer and creator behind the hit Channel 4 sitcom’s London Irish and Derry Girls.

Date And Time: Tue, 5 March 2019, 18:00 – 19:00

Location: Ulster Museum, Belfast BT7 1NG

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Writing My First Short Story & Working Class Voices

(This essay was first published in The Irish Times when my novel The Good Son was their book club choice.)

Reading What I Did on My Summer Holidays again was an unsettling experience. A peeking-through-your-fingers cringing you get looking at early work and the realisation that this was the beginning of a journey that would lead me here, a mind-boggling 17 years later. I lost this story when a hard drive got corrupted many years back, in fact, I lost the first draft of the novel at the same time. I was so disheartened I took a long break from writing and had to begin the novel again, from scratch, years later.

Being my first attempt at prose, never mind a short story, I now see the gaps and failings. I’d never even read a short story before writing one. Back then I was writing comedy shows in London, had done a little for TV and was teaching comedy sketch writing at Hampstead Theatre. After seeing one of my shows, author P-P Hartnett got in touch asking me to submit to a short story anthology he was editing. I hadn’t written prose since my essay What I Did On My Summer Holidays at school – most of this I’d invented to make me look good. So when I sat down to have a go at writing a short story I took the most common advice I’d heard – write what you know. I thought about the last time I’d written and used that title as a little wink to it. I thought of a moment in my childhood, on a visit to my Aunt’s, and used that as an intention. I had reached the word limit before I’d gotten to the lane up to my Aunt’s house – this was the moment the idea this story could become a novel first occurred to me. None of the action I’d written was autobiographical though the arena was. I edited down this chunk and added a fictionalized version of the scene I had originally intended at my Aunt’s. Most importantly, it was Mickey’s voice that came out. He’s been here ever since. Though he stays the same age and size in my head, like Bart Simpson, his personality has changed over the years. Mickey got craftier, funnier, dafter, stronger and braver with each draft of The Good Son.

The story got accepted by the editor, was published. I went on a mini-tour of Waterstones shops in the UK and Ireland. Bizarrely, I read in Waterstones Piccadilly, with whom I would later develop an important working relationship, Brighton where I would later live and The Good Son become the City Reads, Dublin where I will come discuss the book with Martin Doyle as a part of the Book Club and Belfast, where of course, the book is set. Never thought about that before – it’s like I’ve been reading one of those weird, cultish books on the power of coincidence.

Mickey is less resilient in this story than he would develop into for The Good Son. Still a thinker but of a different kind. In the novel he has progressed from see how bad it is? to things are bad but I will win. You can see in this story that although Mickey has flashes of humour, the overall tone is more sombre than in the novel and hints at darker stories underneath – for those of you who haven’t read The Good Son, the novel turns up the volume on the funny. Writing comedy for years made me want to write something dark. To swim in that part of me. I explored those darker stories in the first drafts of the novel and it was a very different book to the one that was published.

I left writing comedy not too long after this story and by the time I was doing the major re-writes about 4 years ago I had lost my need to distance myself from the comedy world and was ready to embrace it again.

I edited a huge amount of swearing out of the story for publishing here but there’s still quite a bit. The swearing wasn’t in there to shock but to address what I saw as the omission of swearing children in books. This runs closely with the absence of working class voices. I contend that Ireland has more working class writers and themes than the UK.

On the streets of Belfast, in the working class sectarian ghettoes of my day, swearing punctuated every sentence. Think of the movie portrayals of the Italian ghettoes of New York and you’re getting close. Of course, it’s related to working class culture. The obvious reason for this would be lack of education but it’s more complex and more powerful. It’s a badge of honour. We are happy as we are. Integrating swearing into everyday parlance is a literal fuck you to those who have – be that money or intelligence (really meaning education or the investment in it) or even talent. And as for those of their community who possessed any of these passports – permission to enter the world beyond, a way out – they need to be nifty with their tongue.

It’s not called a class war for nothing, and defecting is a betrayal. Swearing, harsh words, can be a tool of peer repression too, a whip to keep you in line. Perhaps a brutal environment begets a brutal language (also reflected in the harshness of our Belfast accents?) and a brutal socialisation. This is glimpsed in the story and explored in more depth in the novel. If you adapt how you speak – stop the swearing, for example, or speak softer, expand your vocabulary, use correct grammar – then you are rejecting your people, rejecting what your community stands for. You are saying the other world is better, that you aspire to have. If it is a world where excelling at harshness makes you a winner then being soft, believing in gentleness and kindness makes you a loser. You will be eaten up or mocked.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Swearing can be fun. The playfulness I’ve seen in the use of the filthiest of words, especially when coming from the unlikeliest mouth, has created some of my best childhood memories. Playing with the power of profane leads into the role of humour in harsh environments – I know Lisa McInerney is going to talk about this and I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say. Playing with the harshness of words can take its power away too. Jostling with your friends and family – the Northern Irish slegging is there to keep you humble and thicken your skin. Harsher than slagging, it pushes the boundaries, testing just how much mockery and criticism a person can take before cracking and it often only ends when someone breaks.

A sharp wit can give you a place in this kind of world when brawn, connections or the threat violence are not your disposal. Mickey has that. He needs it.

As I said What I Did On My Summer Holidays was first time. Be retrospectively gentle with me.

(You can read What I Did On My Summer Holidays here.)

The Good Son 3rd Editon

Buy Here

Winner of The Polari Prize

“Pungently funny and shot through with streaks of aching sadness.” Patrick Gale
“I devoured it in a day, but I’ve thought about it for many, many more.” Lisa McInerney
“Funny, raw and endlessly entertaining.” Johnathan Coe