I would hesitate to call myself a writer. I know a lot of people who would disagree with this philosophy, but I am old enough, and possibly square enough, to feel that I won’t call myself a writer until I have an established catalogue of books to my name. I am awaiting my first collection of short stories from Sowilo Press, and I have sent my first completed novel out into the world looking for representation…. until these birds come home to roost, I just don’t feel comfortable calling myself a writer yet.
So what would I call myself? Among the many, many words I could choose, one springs to the tip of my tongue. READER!!! I have been reading since before I started school. Apart from sleeping, no activity takes up more of my week than reading. Four, five, six novels a week wouldn’t be unusual. I read while stirring the pots, and while brushing my teeth! It’s a sickness really.
How wonderful, therefore, to find a festival just for readers, a stone’s throw from my own front door, at Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, hosted by Lucina Russell and a team from Kildare County Council Arts Service. A huge range of free events was available, some events sold out, others appealed to a smaller audience, but each one was of high calibre, featuring established writers, academics and critics from Kildare and nationwide.
I was delighted to meet Nuala Ni Chonchuir, who, as Nuala O’Connnor, is set for international stardom with her newest novel, Miss Emily, a fictionalised account of the relationship of Emily Dickinson with her Irish maid, Ada Concannon.
Also, it was thrilling to meet Anthony Quinn, author of Disappeared, one of the best detective novels I have ever read, set in and around Lough Neagh, featuring ghosts and memories of Northern Ireland’s darkest days, which, I assure you, lurk still beneath the thinnest veneer of “normality”. Anthony has written several novels since, and I went home clutching one of them, The Blood Dimmed Tide and it was fascinating to hear him speak of how the spirit of WB Yeats informed the writing of this novel, exploring Yeats’ spiritualism and mysticism in this, the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Maybe, one day, I will feel comfortable and wholly in place at a “writers’ festival”, but for now, from this grateful reader, well done and thanks to Kildare Arts Service.