Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Jennifer Johnston reading

June 04, 2010 By: Blog Team Category: 2010, novels

Thursday 3rd June at 5pm, Jennifer Johnston reading in St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre

For a memorable hour this afternoon Jennifer Johnston held her audience enthralled with her witty ‘off the cuff’ remarks, family anecdotes and readings from her work.
Although she spoke a great deal about her family she emphasised that her novels are not about them – despite what they believe!

Jennifer read two VIVID extracts from her novel “Truth or Fiction“. This was followed by a Question and Answer session during which we learnt that one of her literary influences is E.M. Forster, despite the facte that “he wrote some awful passages.”

We also learnt that a film of her novel “Two Moons” is in the planning stages. Gabriel Byrne has written the script and wants to play the part of the angel. Jennifer confessed to being unsure about that as she visualised Danny de Vito in the role.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to hear her.

Pauline Fayne

Patricia O’Reilly gets ready for Listowel

June 01, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Patricia O’Reilly is going to launch her new novel “A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton (1854-1882)”.

It’s published by Cape Press.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia about Kathleen Newton.

Do you know Patricia O’Reilly? Here’s her home page. You can follow her on Twitter @capepress – but she’s brand new to Twitter and may still be finding her feet there.

Don’t miss her valuable blogpost with sound advice to writers who hope to land a publishing contract.

Patricia’s entry on Irish Writers On-Line says…

Patricia O’Reilly’s novels are

  • Once Upon a Summer (Dublin, The Wolfhound Press, 2000)
  • Felicity’s Wedding (London, Oldcastle Books, 2001)
  • Time and Destiny (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2003).

Her non-fiction publications are

  • Dying with Love (Dublin, Veritas 1992)
  • Writing for the Market (Cork, Mercier 1994)
  • Earning Your Living from Home (Dublin, Marino 1996)
  • Working Mothers (The Wolfhound Press 1997)
  • Writing for Success (Dublin, New Island Books, 2006).

She lives in Dublin.”

It would be great if Patricia O’Reilly dropped in here and wrote us a special piece – just to celebrate.

Rebecca Miller reads from her novel

May 30, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, novels

The large, though not yet packed out, crowd is buzzing in anticipation of Rebecca Miller‘s arrival. For the first time this festival, both Paul O’Mahony and I are at the same event. This is entirely unplanned – but will afford two different impressions of the same happening which is both useful and interesting, adding a contrast in impressions to the contrast in styles already evident from our posts as it were.
The two older ladies seated to my left – I’ve strategically positioned myself on the outside seat near some wall sockets – are deep in conversation. A few minutes ago one of them asked what I was doing and wanted to know what a blog was and how to access it. She told me she wrote her first page of memoir at the 1970 Writers’ Week festival (the year I started first year at St. Michael’s College), and talked of her admiration for Archbishop Simms. I nodded sagely in an endeavour to hide my stygian ignorance of who Archbishop Simms was, the name ringing some very faint bells at the disant edge of memory in my head.
It’s now 10 past and something appears to be happening at last – Miss Miller (for I presume it is she) and a member of the committee – a large woman in a white dress and whiter hair whose face I know but whose name escapes me – have taken their seats at the top table. The podium remains, as yet – should I say “unmanned” (seems a trifle sexist in the circumstances) or “unpersonned” (sounds wrong somehow)?

Miss Miller begins her talk on her book “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee“.
Marigold Village has everything from sex therapist to herbalist (she drops the h) to tennis courts. Having never read any of Miss Miller’s work, my initial impressions are of a fast-paced style reminiscent of what? Perhaps of film narrative.

Listen to extract 1

She explains that as the book progresses Pippa gradually becomes overwhelmed by her past. She then reads a section from the middle of the book.

Extract 2 from Rebecca Miller’s reading

Extract 3 of Rebecca Miller’s reading

The reading goes on for some time – my mind wanders a little, despite the pleasant tone of her soft American accent. I look up to my right to see the large screen displaying a close-up of Ms Miller as she reads. My eye is drawn inexorably toward her gorgeous cleavage… She is a stunningly attractive woman, tall, svelte, cultured, natural.

There is time for 4 or 5 questions from the audience at the end of the reading as follows:

Question 1

Question 2

Questions 3 and 4

Question 5

And then the queue for the book-signing. I purchase two – one for my wife Ana, and the other for myself. When it comes my turn, I tell Ms Miller truthfully that I’ve been “converted”, having never read any of her work – I realise later that this is her first novel! I ask her to write “For Patrick Stack” on the second book. Patrick? she queries. I spell Patrick. She writes it. I repeat “Stack” – do I detect a hesitation (or is it my over-active and increasingly fevered imagination at work?)? I spell S-T-A-C-K. She writes it and finishes the dedication. Meanwhile the large woman in the white dress has come in through the open door and taken the seat to her left. I look at her badge and realise, of course, she’s Marian Relihan. I earnestly thank Ms Miller again, with a slight bow of my already bowed and hatted head and bolt for the door.

My workshop experience at Writers’ Week 2008

May 28, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: historical, participants, tutors, workshop

Having attended Carlo Gébler’s Writing a Novel workshop at last year’s Writers’ Week, I was hopeful that I would actually make some progress with my nascent novel-to-be. That, of course, depended on my making time in my busy schedule for writing. Inevitably this did not come to pass: as is almost invariably the case my priorities, like water, followed the path of least resistance, and the novel writing was de-prioritised out of existence.
The workshop itself, I found to be very useful, as it got me to focus on the why. Motivation is the key to everything. Each act carried out by each character in the novel must be believable, otherwise that character will not be believable. Even if the reader does not know or understand the motivation behind the action of a character, the author must know it, otherwise the character ceases to be believable. In essence that is what I gleaned from the workshop.
I enjoyed hearing the other participants read from their works in progress, as much as I enjoyed reading from my own. The range in tone and genre was breathtaking, the skill of the individual writers undoubted.
I felt that Carlo facilitated the workshop with real skill, facilitating a space for each participant to voice hir (his/her) thoughts, emotions and reactions. It was for me a very fruitful experience. Now, all I have to do is re-prioritise my novel writing to the point where I actually get something written – easier said than done!

Workshops we haven’t yet featured…

May 27, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: creative writing, novels, participants, tutors, workshop

Julia Bell on Writing Funny

  • turn a good joke into a good piece of fiction
  • write funny without turning out cartoons
  • difference between comic hyperbole & just plain old melodrama
  • developing comic characters
  • using point of view & structure to tell stories…to amuse and entertain.

Brian Dillon on Memoir Writing, author of “In the Dark Room”

  • first-person writing through consideration of history, methods & motivations of memoir
  • autobiographical narratives: Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion & Dave Eggers
  • confession in contemporary culture
  • how memories may be remade as literature.
  • experiment writing a short piece of prose memoir.

Declan Hughes on Crime Writing

Declan Hughes reads from his new novel

Declan Hughes reads from his new novel

  • anatomy of a crime novel.
  • crime writing forensically examined through character, dialogue, action, plot & structure.

Paddy Breathnach on Writing for Screen

E.M Forster wrote of the story, “It has only one merit, that of making the audience want to know what happens next. And conversely it can have only one fault, that of making the audience not want to know what happens next.”

  • ways of achieving the former and avoiding the latter by
  • recognising what you’re trying to write: tone, genre & simple stuff that’s often forgotten
  • mythic journeys & sequence theories that help structure your screenplay.

Michael Harding on Writing for Theatre

Putting the story on the stage.

  • finding your story.
  • what is the best starting point for a story?
  • examination of characters in the story & the world of the story
  • shaping your story, how to structure & shape as play for theatre
  • essential rules & principles of the craft
  • making your story work on the stage
  • examination of the personal & socio-political aspect of your story
  • how your story must serve the requirements of the audience.

Martina Evans on Advanced Poetry

  • Everything written is as good as it is dramatic – Robert Frost
  • screenwriter Waldo Salt spoke of thinking like a poet in order to visualise the Dustin Hoffman character in Midnight Cowboy
  • explore film techniques as a way of creating lyrics that are vivid compressed narratives.

Matthew Sweeney on Poetry Getting Started

  • Robert Frost: ‘Poetry is a fresh look and a fresh listen’
  • fresh look at the world around us
  • fresh listen to the language people are using
  • looking at poems that do this & taking your cue from them
  • writing in a way that might surprise you
  • If you surprise yourself, you just might surprise your reader.’(Frost)

Sheila O’Flannagan on Popular Fiction

  • practical, interactive
  • building a popular fiction, covering characterisation, story development, writing skills & editing
  • advice on how to get publisher
  • how to work with a publisher.

Carlo Gebler on Writing a Novel

  • start a novel, advance a novel or finish a novel
  • a better sense of the book you want to write
  • how to set about starting it, advancing it or finishing it.
  • those with work already written should bring it to the workshop
  • tutor cannot undertake to read it outside of the class.

David Park on Creative Writing Advanced

  • construct a piece of fiction, having focused on the cornerstones of structure, characterisation, setting and perspective
  • be willing to share both self and work
  • feedback given individually on all work produced.

Hopefully some of these workshop leaders will write a piece for us…


Hopefully those of you who are at these workshops will also write for us…

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