Exhaustion and exhilaration at the Novel Fair

Greenbean Novel Fair, 2016

Well, that was as much fun as you can have in public, I think  – sitting down in the gorgeous Georgian surroundings of the Irish Writers’ Centre, in Parnell Square, Dublin, with fifteen movers and shakers from the Irish/UK/US publishing industry, knowing that they were not allowed to run away, shrieking!

A huge vote of thanks is due to Amy and the other staff of the IWC, for organising a complicated event which ran like clockwork. More than one of the agents/publishers noted how incredibly well prepared all the novelists were, and that is entirely due to the hard work of the Centre, the judges, Martina Devlin, Anthony Glavin, Margaret Hayes  and also to Kevin Curran winner of the 2014 competition, whose novel Beatsploitation was picked up at the Fair. Two weeks ago, Martina, Amy, Margaret, Anthony and Kevin took twelve novices and drilled us in the arcane arts of the “elevator pitch”. Much appreciated.

The noise levels in the room had to be experienced to be believed, twenty four people in animated conversation, gabbling at breakneck speed before the dreaded bell sounded to wails of “…but, I haven’t told you the most important bit yet…”

To the delight of the debut novelists, our shyly proferred synopsises, samples and manuscripts were snapped up and borne away by some of the leading agents and publishers in Ireland, London and New York…allowing us a few seconds fantasising about stepping out of a yellow or black cab, surrounded by flashing cameras at the launch of our million-selling block-busters, before coming back to reality with the next “Hello, how are you?”

And there was time for the odd snippet of non-novel related chat… how do vets in practice really feel about “Supervet”; the price of apartments and how best to get rid of them, and the truly bizarre decision of the Arts Council to withdraw every penny of funding from Ireland’s leading children’s publisher, O’Brien Press. (I remember signing and sharing a petition in relation to this, and I genuinely believed that a portion of funding had been returned.)

As the event drew to a close at 4pm, I couldn’t believe how vibrant and energised I felt after six solid hours of high-octane chat. What a lovely bunch of people, and what a wide-ranging and interesting set of novels we presented to them. I will be following the progress of the novels closely; I have a good feeling about several of them!

So here’s to the future, and whatever it may bring.








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