Interviewed on RTE Radio about The 32 Anthology
To Garth Greenwell, the huge international success of his debut What Belongs to You, “was the biggest surprise of my life”, and he feels “immensely lucky” as “the success of a book has as much to do with chance as anything else”. Its success has allowed him to have a career as a writer and teacher in a way he wasn’t able to in his previous 20 years of writing. He feels relieved, though, that the writing process itself, “the struggle”, just him alone with his notebook and “the pit of doubt and despair”, hasn’t changed. “I wouldn’t know who I would be without it.”
You can read my interview with him about his new novel, Cleanness, in The Irish Times.
I’m excited to be heading to Qatar soon for JLF Doha. Here are my events at the Qatar National Library.
In a world fraught with conflict, eminent writers speak of how they make sense of the disturbances and dystopias around us. Prayaag Akbar’s award-winning novel Leila, adapted into a popular Netflix series, addresses the ongoing conflicts in society. Paul McVeigh’s debut novel, The Good Son, tells the story of the Irish Troubles in turbulent Belfast. Writer and academic Ahmed Dallal has examined the conflicts of the Middle East.
The brevity of short fiction, illuminating transformative moments in life, eliminating all that is unnecessary, takes it to the heart of the reader. A session which investigates and celebrates the form and function of the short story. Conversations and contextual readings featuring Alex Shaw, author of the popular Aidan Snow SAS series, Kaltam Jabor M. Al-kuwari, the first Qatari women to author a collection of short stories, and Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son and director and co-founder of London Short Story Festival, Paul McVeigh.
I hope to see some of you in Doha!
‘We invited Salt authors Alison Moore and Paul McVeigh to discuss how they managed writing life post-publication.’
I’ve met Alison a number of times over the last few years and she is one of the loveliest people you could meet. It was amazing then that we ended up with the same publisher. Salt asked us to have a chat about ‘finding the balance’.
You can read the conversation on Salt’s website here.
Well, this is a corker.
Do fiction writers have a responsibility to engage with politics? The line between fiction and nonfiction is constantly blurred, especially in the post-truth climate of today. Fiction reflects the world around us, and the world around us at this particular moment in time is in crisis: politically, socially and culturally.
And so, in this tumultuous political climate, this panel will raise, and attempt to answer questions such as, whether fiction writers hold a responsibility to engage with and write about politics?; whether fiction can affect politics?; and whether all fiction is political?
Making up stories is an inherently political act, but that doesn’t mean that the stories are about politics. Does fiction have the ability to change minds? Come and enter into the conversation with these four writers as they discuss and shed light upon a question of pressing importance.
Hope to see some of you there.
FRI 26 APR 2019 8:00pm | €8/6
Kit de Waal and Anne Griffin will be in conversation with me.
“The Trick to Time is Kit de Waal’s second novel, taking place during the IRA pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974. Born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and an African-Caribbean father, de Waal began her writing career at the age of 45, after leaving school at 15. Seeking to address the under-representation of working-class voices in the arts, de Waal has established a creative writing scholarship.
Anne Griffin has worked with various charities following completion of a postgraduate diploma in Youth and Community Work. A recipient of the John McGahern Award for Literature, Griffin’s debut novel is When All Is Said. The protagonist is 84-year-old Maurice, who sits at a bar and toasts five individuals who have most profoundly impacted on his life in five internal monologues.
7.30pm: Join us for a pre-event whiskey tasting event from Master of Malt and discover the wonderful world of Irish whiskey through the distilleries while remembering the characters beautifully brought to life in Anne Griffin’s poignant bestselling novel, When All Is Said. Whiskies from Midleton and Bushmills showcase the incredible spectrum of flavours found in Ireland’s favourite drink and reflected in the toasts raised by character Maurice Hannigan to his loved ones in When All Is Said.”
I’ve written the introduction to Toby Binder’s wonderful photo book ‘Wee Muckers’ which is launched in Munich tonight! The book is a series of photographs of working class youths in Belfast.
German TV, Das Erste 1, flew over to do an interview with me and I took them around Ardoyne, where I grew up and where The Good Son is set.
Delighted to be appearing at the Cork World Book Fest again this year. More news to follow… save the date!
On the day of the ceremony on BBC Radio 4 Front Row I go behind the scenes of the BBC National Short Story Award with one of its founders and BBC Radio Books Editor Di Speirs. Find out all you need to know about the judging process in Irish Times Culture.
“Over the last few years I’ve worked with a number of literary awards and prizes, and it’s been an education. The behind-the-scenes processes have varied quite significantly. To illustrate with one example; for the £30,000 International Dylan Thomas Prize we read the longlist of twelve books then re-read our chosen shortlist of six, for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize we didn’t read the longlist only the five collections on the shortlist, for the Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Prize I was the only judge and reader, tackling around 750 short stories.
This year I was asked to be an ambassador for the BBC National Short Story Award. I first worked with the award a few years back for an event at the London Short Story Festival, which I co-founded and programmed. Now in its 13th year, the award has become a landmark on the short story landscape in the UK and internationally. I have long been a fan of their excellent website, for podcasts and recordings of previous winners and specially commissioned short stories from the best writers in the form. On that note, a little known astonishing fact, BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, attracting audiences of over a million listeners to short fiction.
Due to its unique and powerful position, at times, questions are asked about access to the BBC’s short story feast. As I watched the twitter reaction to the news of the fifth all-female shortlist and the issues raised re its selection process, I realised there were some questions even I had about the way the award worked.
I used my role as ambassador to gain an interview with Di Speirs, founding judge of the award and BBC’s editor of books, who has gone into detail about every step of the judging process, and shares her love for the short story form.”
Thursday 22nd November 19:00 – 21:00
at Crescent Arts Centre Cube, 2-4 University Road, Belfast , BT7 1NH
I’ll be interviewing the wonderful Sarah Perry in Belfast in November. I read with Sarah a few years back at a festival in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. Here’s what Waterstones said…
“We are thrilled to welcome Sarah Perry, the author of 2016’s Waterstones Book of the YearThe Essex Serpent, to Belfast in conversation with Paul McVeigh to discuss her new novel Melmoth.
Sarah Perry is the UK’s most extraordinary writer of Gothic literature. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague. After Me Comes the Flood, her first novel, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2014. Her latest novel, The Essex Serpent, was a number one bestseller in hardback, Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, the British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and Dylan Thomas Award, and longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017.
Melmoth is a profound, ambitiously realised work of fiction which asks fundamental questions about guilt, forgiveness, moral reckoning and how we come to terms with our actions in a conflicted world. A compulsive, terrifying and thoroughly modern Gothic novel, and a response to the Irish Gothic classic Melmoth the Wanderer.
Further details: 020892040159″