Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dublin Book Festival

The Dublin Book Festival is bigger than ever this year, running from Thursday 2nd March until Sunday 6th.

There are three things I really like about this year’s programme.

The first is that there is, quite literally, something for everyone. Whether your thing is prose or poetry, crime or literary fiction, history or comedy, the programme is jam packed with household names. They have events for kids and young adults, walking tours and tea parties and even a session with everyone’s favourite Dragon, Bobby Kerr for those who are more interested in ‘books’ of a different type.

The second thing, is that almost all of these events are free. For the ones that do carry a cost, that cost is a very reasonable €5 which you get back by way of a book token for the festival book shop. The cost of readings and workshops in this country has long been a pet peeve of mine and it’s great to see a festival that’s so accessible to everyone on all levels.

And the third? The third is that I’m delighted to say I’m part of the programme this year and will be lining out with other ‘Fresh Voices’ Paul Soye, Nuala NĂ­ ChonchĂșir and Liam Carson at 4pm on Sunday 6th March in City Hall. There’ll be readings and discussion with our chair Sinead MacAodha, so should be a lot of fun. Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Before I was published, I’d often imagine into the future; what it would be like to get a book deal, to see my name on the cover of a novel, to see that novel on a bookshop shelf. These daydreams would usually come when I was at some difficult stage of the process, times when I was trying to avoid actually doing any writing at all.

Since I’ve been published, I’ve noticed that people often ask me about those exact moments I used to imagine. Usually, they have a smile on their face, urging me to tell them stories of elation, euphoria, of a world shattering into a billion starry molecules all around me. And sometimes I tell them that, or something like it, even though it’s not one hundred percent true.

The truth is, that while I remember each of these moments with a startling clarity - the Wednesday August evening when I got the e-mail, the Saturday morning I met my editor outside a McDonalds to take possession of my first copies - as well as elation, there was relief and disbelief and fear. And even as each event was happening, there was something else going on too, a tiny gap between the way I was actually feeling and how I was expected to feel. A gap big enough for the dreaded ‘should’ to squeeze through, as in: should I be feeling more than this?

Today, I received delivery of the paperback format of that same novel, The Other Boy. The paperback release is a low key affair, a new cover, bigger print run – no publicity or launch parties here. I was on the phone, still in my running clothes, when the courier rang the doorbell and I ate my breakfast, answered some e-mails and played a Facebook scrabble move before I rescued the box from the hall and sliced through the brown tape.

The first thing I noticed about the book was how nicely it fit into my hand; chunky but not too big, the cover matt and soft and grass green. When I turned it over, my name was there, right at the top. I sat down on the couch, read a bit in the middle and I remembered writing it. I flicked to another section and smiled, I remembered writing that too. And that was when it finally hit me, 10 months after being published, a year and a half after getting the deal, that this was actually my book, a book I’d written. The kind of book I might even buy.

I’m writing this in Starbucks. There’s a floor length window with the sea outside and today it’s rough, white peaks of waves on grey water. I like writing here because it’s a nice distraction to glance out at it, between paragraphs, when I run out of words. Today, I’m glancing at something else as well, my novel, the paperback, on the table, next to my cup.

It’s silly, I know, self indulgent, to carry it around like this and tomorrow it’ll be back on the shelf where it belongs. But just for today, I’ll keep it close and enjoy the unexpected tingle of elation that seeing it unexpectedly seems to bring.