Friday, 5 December 2014

Short story to be published in new book by O'Brien's Press

Evening all, One of my short stories (a very, very short story) has been chosen, via a competition on RTE Radio 1's Book Show, to be published in a new book of very, very short stories by O'Brien's Press. The story is about 180 words (see what I mean), is called Nasturtiums and is about loss and learning how to let go. It's the first short story I've finished in the past year, as I've been slogging my way through the last few chapters of the blinking novel, so I'm very happy that's it been included. A number of the chosen stories (maybe mine, maybe not) will be featured in tomorrow night's live broadcast of the Book Show of RTE Radio, which is coming live from the book launch at Twisted Peppers in Dublin from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. The book itself is a limited edition, so I'm not sure how you, or indeed me, might go about getting a copy. But when I know, you'll know.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Times are a changing...

Hello folks, I've just started work on Chapter 26 of the novel (that's the second last chapter for anyone who is counting) so I should be in a position to get back to some good old fashioned short story writing once the first draft is finished. So let's say December. Fingers crossed.
Also, I've decided that I'm just going to have change the name of this blog and the facebook page. Fighting Talk is way too similar to Fighting Words, that's the brilliant creative writing for kids group founded by Roddy Doyle. Every time a hear Fighting Words mentioned on the radio, I sort-of cringe at the similarity and feel like I just plain stole the name - even though I didn't. So, the old name is dead, long live the new name. Whatever name that ends up being.
I'm currently kicking around a few name ideas -  I want something catchy but not verbose, explanatory but also gritty and 'real'. So, if anyone has any brilliant ideas, please, for goodness sake, bring them.

Friday, 8 August 2014

In conversation with... Donal Ryan

Earlier this year I spoke with Donal Ryan, the young Tipperary writer whose debut novel 'The Spinning Heart' is one of the best Irish releases of the past 18 months. The interview, which was first published in April of this year, is a great tonic for any young or frustrated writer. Donal speak openly about his constant struggle for confidence and explains how sometimes he has to "pretend to be somebody else, just to get to the end of the paragraph.  

One of the first things that strikes a readers about the work of Donal Ryan is the simple confidence of his prose. The language is direct and unforgiving, flowing easily from a page that appears to have been crafted by the character itself, and not during late night labours over a script. But Ryan, like so many of us, struggles desperately with his confidence.
If anything though, the knowledge of this battle make the Tipperary author more appealing. The details of his personal struggle somehow manage to give even more weight to the work that he produces.
“It took me 20 years to get a level of confidence in my own ability to actually send something that I had written out into the world. A breakdown in confidence assails me all the time, pretty much every day. Sometimes half way through a sentence. A sentence might start well and then I would struggle half way through to close it. It would break down on me. I think it is something that you constantly have to fight with. Everyone is the same, no one is perfectly confident. You have to work at it. Sometime I have to try and be somebody else. Sometimes I have to pretend to be somebody else just so I can get to the end of a paragraph,” said Donal.

To read this interview in full of previous interviews with Julian Gough, Colm Toibin and Kevin Barry, lick HERE

And another thing...

So to begin at the start, apologies for the long gap since the last blog post. The last few months have been busy but Georgina, the novel that is, continues apace. I'm currently writing my way through Chapter 25, which should have me on target to complete a full first draft by October of this year.
That should, with any bit of luck, free me to complete some of the scores of short stories which have been kicking around my notebook for the past 18 months, looking for a home. I'm particularly excited about one story, set in an rural Irish mart, which has been prodded into life, if not entirely inspired, by the short stories of Leonard Michaels. The image accompanying this post was taken by my friend Margaret Cahill, herself a budding young Irish writer. The image, taken in a County Kerry ghost estate, could easily form the backdrop to the action in Georgina. Thanks to Margaret for that.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Blow It Open. Seamus Heaney and the black lake of the Burren

The swans may be gone, but Seamus Heaney still has the power to catch the heart and blow it open. Writes Andy Hamilton.

Sometimes art and nature seem to melt together. It happened in 'Postscript', Seamus Heaney's love-letter to the Flaggy Shore and the North Clare Burren. And, in a strange reversal of symmetries, it seems to be happened again.
Months after the death of the Nobel laureate, the land so beloved by Heaney still appears to be in mourning. Since the turn of the year, things have not be right in Lough Marree, the freshwater lake on the Flaggy Shore.
The lake, located a dozen or so feet from the saline waters of Galway Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, has slowly been turning black. This gradual darkening of the lake came to a dramatic climax earlier this month when the lakes large flocks of whooper and mute swans, the same birds immortalised by Heaney in Postscript, abandoned the lake.
This, understandably, took the locals by shock, especially the members of the excellent blog A Flaggy Shore Miscellany. The blackening of the lake and departure of Heaney's swam had more than a vibe of mourning about it - it seemed to encapsulate the feeling of so many who lived and loved to the rhythm of Heaney's pen.
It would seem, however, that nature has an explanation, even though the romantics amongst may us wish it hadn't. The storms force gales which battered the Clare coast in January and February, would seem to deposited a massive amount of seaweed into lake.
Trapped in the lake, this seaweed has been slowly breaking down in the fresh water for past three months, pickling the water and slowly turning in black.
There is some sentiment left in the story however, and according to John Murphy of Clare Birdwatching, the flocks of whooper and mute swans should return to the lake this Autumn, just in time for the year anniversary of Seamus Heaney's death.

Friday, 31 January 2014

In conversation with... Julian Gough

This is a old interview with Julian Gough, first published just before the release of 'Jude: Level 1'. Julian was at his lively best and he even made some interesting comments, considering what he has said in recent times, about the future of the novel. Enjoy.

WHAT would Charles Darwin have made of Julian Gough? The great thinker, master of evolution and natural selection. Would he have found a room, a paragraph or even a foot note, in the Origin of the Species for the likes of Gough?
If so, it would most likely have come in a chapter titled, ‘Thoughts on the Random Mutation’. Not that I’m suggesting that Ireland’s latest trailblazing avant garde author is some sort of literary missing link. On the contrary, Gough represents an alteration, an almost radical change of direction that is absolutely essential for progress, whether social, biological or indeed literary.
The only question left is one of genetics, dominant or regressive.
“Because it’s an unusual mad kind of book we had trouble getting shops to understand what we were doing or getting publishers to understand what we were doing in the first place. But when I won the National Short Story Prize with the prologue to the book then that changed absolutely everything.
“People began to look at the book in a different way, all of it’s vices suddenly became virtues - the little grey fella turns out to be a swan after all.