Bord Gais Energy Book Awards…fingers crossed

Bord Gais Energy Book Awards…fingers crossed

Is it indecent to have a tiny gloat in public? I’m heading off to Dublin tomorrow (on a school-day, shock, horror) to have a diet coke and a bun at the announcement of the shortlist for the annual  Short Story of the Year competition. It’s one hell of a longlist and I’m kind of stunned to be on it, to be honest! There are thirteen stories, some from writers I know and a few that I’ve not heard of yet, and that’ll soon be remedied.

Last year there were six men on the shortlist, all superb writers, but this year’s longlist has a great diversity of voices, and maybe I’ll make it through to the shortlist, to be announced around 11.30 tomorrow morning.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, and for my story The Visit, starring my favourite character Alo O’Donovan from my debut collection The Accidental Wife. Several people have already asked me to write Alo’s novel, and if he pulls this out of the hat for me, maybe I will!

The bad news if that if I make it on to the shortlist tomorrow, I might well be back here in a few days time, asking you to consider voting for The Visit. The good news is, that one way or another, I’ll be directing you to the voting platform where you’ll be able to read half-a-dozen of the year’s best short stories. What’s not to like?

Ireland’s biggest book-club host meets Ireland’s biggest book-fan!

Ireland’s biggest book-club host meets Ireland’s biggest book-fan!

So thrilled to be onstage for the first time at the annual extravaganza that is Kildare Reader’s Festival!

Every year I sit in the audience and watch and listen as my literary heroes strut their bookish stuff on the stage. That’s where I met Anthony J Quinn, whose Celcius Daly detective is the best I’ve ever read.  This year I met Paul McVeigh (The Good Son) and Lisa McInerney ( The Glorious Heresies) and Sara Baume (Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither) and a host of others. (Swoon.)

But this year, the icing on the cake of a magnificent weekend hosted by Kildare County Library and Arts Service, was ME! (Well, I write this blog, and I’m allowed to tamper with the truth.)


Before the panel discussion at 8pm on Saturday night, Rick O’Shea, the founder of Ireland’s largest online book-club, presented me with €1,500 , the financial aspect of the 2016 Cecil Day Lewis emerging writer’s bursary from Kildare County Arts. So the drinks were on me later. (Only joking – Rick shuffled off very decorously afterwards and there was no alcohol, what a shame!)


Then the audience was treated to my sweet tones as I read the first pages from my Pushcart Prize nominated story “The Visit” and no-one fell asleep. Afterwards, I managed to press a copy of my debut collection The Accidental Wife into Rick’s hands. I’m sure he receives hundreds of books per year, but I hope and trust he’ll find time to read mine! Fingers crossed.

(Thanks to Ger Holland, the official KRF photographer for permission to use her images.)

me-at-krfaccidental wife final cover




Kind words

Kind words

I don’t know how many Irish writers publish their debut novel or story collection each year, but I do know that a weekly newspaper column only happens at most 52 times per year! So that’s fifty-odd chances to break-through all the white-noise and static on social media and get noticed… even more difficult without an Irish publishing house or an agent at the helm.

I was really delighted when Sue Leonard who reviews debuts for the Beginner’s Pluck column in the Irish Examiner each Saturday got in touch out of the blue. I’d have loved to have headed into Dublin and met Sue, one of Ireland’s best-loved ghost-writers and reviewers, but Dublin Bus strike intervened and by the magical power of telephony (and how many of us actually understand how it works?) here is my Beginner’s Pluck article.

Many thanks to Sue

Find out more about The Accidental Wife here.



Talented friends…

Talented friends…

Let’s see how many of you can recognise yourselves in this wonderful photo video by my good friend and ace photographer Ana Dorado of ABD Photography.  She was sneaking around at the launch of my award-winning debut The Accidental Wife and I bet you didn’t even notice her! Go on have a look at yourselves and see how lovely you all are. (PS…I don’t have any idea why there is a chocolate and a can of Diet Coke on that table! Must belong to someone else!)



Fame, shame…and one-handed typing

Fame, shame…and one-handed typing

It’s funny what people are ashamed of. I’m a Northern Irish Catholic, educated by the Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy during the 1970s and 80s. I was a teenager during the SPUC anti-abortion craze, and I wore my badge of tiny foetal feet on my jumper every day. I was a teenager during the first horrific decade of the AIDS epidemic and sex was a dirty word. There were so many “sins” when I was a child, and yet now as an adult there is really only one “sin” that I try to avoid in daily life, which is food waste. Most of the rest I have come to think of as merely instructions intended to control the working classes. I don’t think about sin or shame very often in my busy life, unless I’m throwing out a bag of salad, so far over its eat by date that even I can’t stomach it, or soup it. Then, and only then, do I feel a pang of shame.

So when Alan Brereton and his team from Irish Television came to interview me last week for the Kildare County Matters programme, about my Eludia Prize winning collection The Accidental Wife I was surprised to find myself scouring the kitchen, hiding the detritus of family life and giving the glass surfaces a surreptitious wipe. Did this feel a bit like shame?  Why yes it did, how odd, and how utterly unlike me.

But that was nothing compared to my reaction when the cameraman focussed in on my typing, which is largely one-handed, extremely uncoordinated and incredibly inefficient. “Don’t put that in,” I ordered, “and for the love of God, don’t show the gibberish on the screen!” I was duly reassured.

The swine! Not one but two close-ups of my fingers, dancing like spiders on ketamine around my long suffering keyboard!

More shame. How utterly, utterly bizarre. What an insane thing to worry about, in what was otherwise a very enjoyable interview. While moaning about it, another writer online pointed something out to me: “Many people are able to type well, but very few of them write a book!” I could have hugged her.

I don’t know the lady in question, we’ve never met. What a shame.

You can watch the interview here  .I start at about 12 and a half minutes in, though the whole episode of Kildare county happenings is worth watching.

You can order The Accidental Wife  here.




Love, love, love…The Accidental Wife

Love, love, love…The Accidental Wife

There are so many ways to show love. Maybe you brought flowers or a gift, maybe you bought five copies (as I know some of you did!), maybe you were on the platform, telling the world my virtues, or on the platform telling the world about The Accidental Wife and how it is the best thing since sliced toast.  Maybe like my family you braved atrocious driving conditions for 5 hour round journey to spend this special evening with me.

The launch of The Accidental Wife last night was a truly wonderful evening for me surrounded by friends and family, and a big contingent of writers and bloggers and book lovers. Thanks to each and every one of you.

A special thank you to Aoife at Designer Hair who made me look like the lady on the back of my book and wouldn’t accept payment, to Ana Dorado for the amazing photography, to Margaret Scott who acted as MC and to Martin Malone who officially launched The Accidental Wife. And to all who have read or reviewed the book and sent messages of support and affection.

Just to prove to that all forms of love were fully represented: Five minutes before the kick-off my husband burst through the doors of Barker and Jones bookshop, preceded by howling wind and wet through. As he stood and dripped a small puddle onto the floor from his soaked coat and slicked the raindrops off his face, he reached into his pocket and produced a shiny, gleaming, sparkling can of ice-cold Diet Coke. As Margaret said, it’s the closest thing to the iconic Milk Tray ads she’s ever seen in her life! (And my husband says, the book is “very good”, which is strong praise indeed!

Buy the accidental wife here

So busy…so, so busy. Launching The Accidental Wife

So busy…so, so busy. Launching The Accidental Wife


The Accidental Wife launches 21st Sep

Why didn’t I write this book twenty years ago? Why on earth didn’t I take my first steps into publishing back when a writer wrote a book, got a contract, did some radio interviews and either had some success or gently faded away, depending on how good their publisher’s publicity department was?

I’m joking, I suppose, but my God, this self-publicity is tough work! Even the largest and most well-known publishing houses have slashed their publicity budgets and passed a lot of that work onto the already bowed shoulders of their writers. I’ve seen the hundreds of hours of  blogging, interviewing, radio and television features and thousands of words of self-promotion by some of my favourite, most successful Irish writers. I knew it would be difficult to be published by a small American publisher, with no reach or personal contacts into the Irish market, but no idea how difficult.

Every time my hand hovers over “publish” or “post” I hesitate and think…oh God, they’re all going to run away, or unfriend me, or unfollow me, or whatever you do to social media mosquitoes when they buzz around whispering “…did I tell you I’ve published a book? let me tell you a-a-a-a-ll about it…” They roll up a virtual newspaper and they look round for a bottle of DEET.

So, for absolutely, categorically the last time…I’m launching The Accidental Wife at Barker and Jones Bookshop, Naas, Co Kildare at 7pm on Wednesday 21st September. My friends and writing mentors Margaret Scott and Martin Malone are launching it with me. There will be wine, and chocolate and an opportunity to tell me I’m great. There’ll be a gathering next door in Lawlor’s Hotel at 8pm, where there will be wine, and cocktail sausages and more opportunities to tell me I’m great (or to distract my children, for which I will be even more grateful!)

And in the interim, to the dozen hardy souls who have braved the soulless wastes of or or Goodreads to spontaneously tell the world about The Accidental Wife…many thanks! Readers don’t always realise how much those reviews mean to writers…every review increases the visibility of the book to the all-powerful Amazon search engines…get enough reviews and Amazon starts to prick up it ears and whisper to itself…I wonder should I tell people about this book…so thank you. (And remember, computers can’t read, and they don’t care what the review says, two lines is enough!)

The Accidental Wife is available at Barker and Jones, Naas, at Farrell and Nephew, Newbridge, to order from most independent bookshops, and here.