Call to Photographers



The 2017 Book a Break anthology has a Journey theme. The 34 excellent stories in it are currently being edited and proofread. So now is the time to ask all photographers out there to submit a picture which fits with the theme, either in colour (for the ebook) or black and white (for both ebook and print).

The theme is open to many interpretations. The journey could be on roller skates, by recalcitrant mule or at the helm of an intergalactic spaceship. Unlike last year, the pictures won’t be linked to specific stories, but illustrations of your own approach to the theme. They need to be of a high enough resolution to look good either printed or on screen (minimum 300 dpi). For the ebook, I’d like to include a wide variety of arresting pictures; for the print book, only a few in order to keep costs down.


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The Good Son in Short Story to Novel Essay

The Good Son

Congratulations to novelist Susmita Bhattacharya who wrote this essay for a competition and wasn’t longlisted BUT it has been published by the internationally prestigious LA Review of Books. Just shows you – never give up on a piece you know is good, it just needs to find the right home! And sometimes the new home is better than the intended one 🙂

The essay talks about the link between the short story and novel in specific work including my novel The Good Son which came from a short story as well as Virgina Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.

The Good Son 3rd Editon

Winner of The Polari Prize
“Both dancing and disquieting, complex and vivid, I devoured it in a day, but I’ve thought about it for many, many more.” Lisa McInerney
“It’s a triumph of storytelling, an absolute gem.” Donal Ryan
“Funny, raw and endlessly entertaining.” Johnathan Coe

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They tried to bury us

Degree of Uncertainty.

So 100,000 Workin’ Class people from all over the country flooded Dublin city with democracy all the way back in October. Nobody was expecting that. Not even Right2Water who only had a route planned up and down O’Connell St. Nobody was expecting such an intense expression of cultural identity, delivered with grace, determination and humour, unless of course you felt it. That age old feeling in the pit of your stomach. That feeling that the phrase “the people are rising” was invented for. It was no co-incidence that resistance to Irish Water was fiercest right where the FG communication clinic knew exactly what hand to play. Savages, thugs, lazy, sub-human, scumbags, scumbags who want to steal your water, then upload videos of themselves pouring it over a fixie from the iphone they just snatched.
The FG communication clinic played it well, who would want to be associated with estates like…

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Z is for Zero

A noble cause.



Well, guess what? I didn’t get to Provence after all. I must have got into the wrong bag or the wrong queue, but I ended up in Madagascar! The flight was very long and I was stuck in the hold without so much as a Tom and Jerry cartoon to watch, but now I’m here, I think it must have been fate. The other day, I told you about Cats Protection, but I’ve never explained why the other charity the proceeds from Cat Tales go to is the AMF – Against Malaria Foundation.

Curtis was in a taxi once, riding back into town, and the taxi stopped, as they do in Madagascar, to pick up other people. One of them was a young woman with a baby in her lap. The baby wasn’t crying but it didn’t look very happy either. It looked absent, awake but unaware, staring straight ahead…

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Wine Tourism Spain, Short Story Contest – My Entry

Extraterrestrial life arrives to Earth. They arrive somewhere in Spain. Wine plays an important role in the way their perception of Earth is shaped. 200-500 Words.



Our spaceship materialises into their atmosphere and we hover miles above the sparkling shores of an endless continent. The planet below us is primitive and fertile, and constantly in turmoil. Unlike our own peaceful but sterile world, where everything is manufactured and administered to us as needed. My eagerly awaited annual holiday on planet Earth begins in the place we call the Land of Giants.

Attendants pass among us with trays of synthesised essence of Syrah, and Cava lemonade for the children, as our ships spiral downward to our rallying point among the spires of Gaudi’s Basilica. They loom like ornamental mountain peaks above the cavernous streets of their city. If we had the ability to slow our timeline enough to become visible in their world we would appear no bigger than a swarm of honeybees above their heads. But a day for them is a year for us and we can only observe their legendary culture from the safety of our ships.

They appear frozen to us with smiles and greetings of friendship painted warm on their faces as they drink their wine and eat food in shaded streets and sunny plazas. With their futures on this wild planet unknown to them, they seem so fearless and optimistic to us. We know that, for them, their days and years can seem to slip through their hands so quickly, but as we pass among them we are envious of their longevity and can only try to reflect on the meaning in our own uneventful lives. Our tiny fleet turns and heads out into the countryside over rolling plains of towering vines.

We have a belief on our planet that when we die we are reborn as a perpetual human thought in this Land of Giants. And as beings who will live our entire lives in the time it takes for a grape to ripen on Earth, we savour the taste and sights of our future immortality.

I have been coming here all my life and the grapes are now very ripe with the pickers already assembled, and I know that I may not have many pilgrimages left, but perhaps I can live to see this harvest completed over the coming voyages.

We circle in low and see the expressions of hope and enthusiasm on their sun-kissed faces as they prepare to become one with the produce of this vibrant land. Syrah permeates the moment and once again I try to imagine how it feels to be part of this eternal cycle of life.

I hope that I will be reborn in the youthful eyes of one of these dreamers in the harvest, for without the patient attention of humans to slow down our years, this fleeting universe would have no meaning for us at all.

My Essay on Northern Ireland

The Good Son

Writing about politics in Northern Ireland is a risky business and with every sentence you suspect you’re polishing a rod for your own back.
This is a short essay I wrote for the International Literary Showcase about Crossing Borders – my thoughts on my nationality prompted by the 1916 centenary last year.
Here’s a short snippet from the introduction…

“Last year Ireland marked the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. This disastrous rebellion was the spark that led, a few years later, to Irish independence. Freedom was to come at a high price: a peace treaty with the British demanded part of the island remain under their rule which caused a bitter civil war that tore the country apart. The Pro-Treaty side won. A rift had been carved into the psyche of the newly freed Irish, and on the land itself, when the border between North and South was drawn.”

Head over…

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27 May, Talking Translation: International Literature Festival Dublin

The Good Son

Talking Translation – Writing and Rewriting: Writers and Translators in Conversation

Brunch with guests including Paul McVeigh, Rasha Khayat, and their translators Hans-Christian Oeser and Sinead Crowe. The event will feature a discussion between the participants about their work, separately and together, providing some insight into the mysterious workings of the writer–translator relationship and their common search to give voice to contemporary fiction. Brunch will be served in a relaxed and informal setting, offering the opportunity to listen and speak to these remarkable writers and ‘rewriters’.

Organised by the French Embassy in Ireland, the German Embassy Dublin, the Goethe-Institut Irland and Literature Ireland within the framework of the French- German cultural funds.

ILFDBook Tickets

Date Saturday, 27 May

Time 10:30AM
Venue Drury Buildings
Price €5

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Final Call

I’m on Board.



This is the final call for passengers bound for the Book a Break Short Story competition (this year’s theme: The Journey). The gate will close on Sunday 19th February, 6 pm GMT. Please ensure that your stories remain within the 2000 word limit – excess weight may mean that you will be barred from travelling. Many thanks to those already on board. Your participation is greatly appreciated. For in-flight entertainment while you wait for the results, we suggest Cat Tales, the anthology from last year’s submissions. Proceeds go to two charities, Cats Protection and The Against Malaria Foundation. On behalf of this year’s judge, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, we welcome you all on board and wish you a pleasant journey. It is a pleasure to have you travelling with us.

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