In troubled times, writing – and the work of other writers – helps me make sense of the world. Recently, I was able to hear Irish writers speak on their experiences of a subject that is back in the headlines: the border. There’s more on the event on my blog.
Other writers are always inspiring. One of my writing heroes is the wonderful Sebastian Barry. I was lucky enough to hear him speak earlier this year – and to grab a selfie! – at the Oxford Literary Festival.
An outing is a welcome boost in the solitary process of editing and re-drafting my novel, which still takes up much of my working life. I was thrilled when it was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize , and judge Broo Doherty called it ‘a beautifully written novel about identity, forgiveness and coming to terms with the past’.
You can be intrigued by my work here.
The discipline of deadlines is enormously important to my writing motivation, and it’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence, as a reader for The Brighton Prize for short stories and flash fiction. Last year’s prize attracted a great response, and a real diversity of subjects and voices. It was wonderful to be part of the celebration at a candlelit reading at The Brunswick in Brighton in November, where we heard Paula Hunter (@hillsnspills) read her haunting first-prize story ‘Wait’, and Haleh Agar (@HalehAgar) read her beautiful winning Flash piece ‘Jellyfish’. I’m looking forward to reading this year’s crop of stories.
Reading for the prize is a humbling reminder of the amount of work for all involved in running a competition. As a result, I’ve vowed to atone for past sins by in future pressing ‘Send’ before 11.59 pm…