HOME & NEWS
Nov 29: LOST NOTES is back in print – a welcome return of the 2004 short story collection has just been published under the same Aeon Press imprint as before. This latest edition features new colours for front and back covers and now the text is printed on creamy stock rather than plain white paper. Full details on distribution and availability to follow. Meanwhile, here’s the cover:
Oct 8: Spare me another dime-a-dozen Irish novel full of all the customary family secrets to be revealed. Ok, ok, Sebastian Barry’s THE SECRET SCRIPTURE was a good read, but Anne Enright’s THE GATHERING turned out to be full of the usual disappointing blather and guff despite its much vaunted Man Booker status. Now, with Maggie O’Farrell’s 2013-published INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, my eyes glaze over at the boring familiarity, the dull predictability, of dusty motifs and well worn plots. I bought O’Farrell’s book anticipating a light read ideal for a four-hour flight to Tenerife. I did not expect this book would, if anything, make the flight seem even longer. I felt like pleading with the cabin crew: give me space rockets and stars, or at least give me some semblance of creative imagination! I got the same old same old. What is it about so many mainstream novelists that they are incapable of breaking new ground when writing Irish stories and why are so many modern Irish novels so woefully lacking in imagination? Why don’t they show us different worlds for a change? – and by different worlds I don’t mean planets. A full review of INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE is on the Book Reviews page.
A new poem of mine, my tenth poetry publication so far this year, is forthcoming in the Stony Thursday Book, an anthology to be launched at 7 pm on Thursday, October 24, at 69 O’Connell Street, Limerick. The event is part of the Cuisle International Poetry Festival www.cuisle.org/
Sep 6: A reading coming up next Thursday, September 12, courtesy of the Seven Towers Agency. The venue is the Workman’s Club on Dublin’s Wellington Quay. The reading is timed for 6.30 pm and it’s one of those ‘Themed Thursday’events. The subject next week is ‘cities’ so I’ll read part of the Prague section of BIRD OF PREY.
Aug 3: Congratulations to Irish writers Donal Ryan and Eimear McBride on the great success of their novels (respectively: THE SPINNING HEART and A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING), both published after much hawking around – in Ryan’s case, 47 rejection slips. It goes to show what can be done despite the power and dominance of the suits in the marketing departments that now run so many publishing companies. It also shows that you have to keep on banging your head off the publishing wall because, sometimes, cracks appear making it possible to break through.
A great review of BIRD OF PREY has just been published. Julian White, in his Demon’s Bento column for July, had this to say: “An old lady convinces meek auctioneer Walts Walters to sell an unremarkable-looking crystal bird. Initially reluctant, he soon becomes fascinated by this mystery antique, and with good reason … Murphy packs a lot into a slim 86 pages. Beginning in the seedy milieu of a London auction house, the story then takes to the road as Walts abandons his day job to go on a quest of discovery that sees him landing up in Moscow … rapid changes of scene give BIRD OF PREY a brisk, cinematic quality (I can’t help thinking what an excellent graphic novel it would make), but at the same time it retains plenty of grit thanks to the author’s eye for descriptive detail, and there’s a satisfaction to the way the tale goes from small and humdrum to earth-shattering and potentially cataclysmic. Cramming such an involved plot into such a compact form inevitably leads to a few question marks being left dangling (in particular, Walts’ obsession with the bird feels a little lacking in groundwork), but still, this is a pleasingly individual piece of fiction and a welcome rebirth for the firebird legend.” The full review can be accessed at http://www.albedo1.com/2013/07/17/demons-bento-3-july-2013/
July 1: Time for this writer to come out of the closet. For some while now I’ve been dabbling in pottery – sorry, I mean to say: poetry. I spilled the beans on this during an interview last August. I first noticed the affliction in January 2010 while on a five week trek in South America, believing it to be a temporary exotic bug that would vacate my system as soon as I got home. Yet here it is, three and a half years later, still going strong and apparently incurable despite the tablets. The pommes are pouring out of me to the extent that I have no alternative but this: officially to out myself as a poi, powet – apologies again, I still have difficulty bringing myself to spell the accursed word in public, never mind say it. The reason I’m coming out is because I’ve had a spate of acceptances recently. These include one in the current issue of The Burning Bush, two in the current edition of Indigo Rising (UK), and three in the ‘Earth, Spirit, Society’ issue of About Place Journal. Also, I’ve sneaked into a forthcoming issue of Peadar O’Donoghue’s Poetry Bus. As well as this, I’ve had a few published over the last three years or so, in places like Minus Nine Squared, Revival, Every Day Poets and other venues. Four of these, all previously published, are now up on a new page on the toolbar above. So at last, the word ‘poterey’ is officially on this website! There, I’ve said it. Whew, it’s such a relief. I’m not so po-faced now that I’ve finally declared myself to be a pot.
June 10: A recent story of mine “We Do Things Differently Here”, written in 2012, has been taken by DF Lewis for his forthcoming HORROR WITHOUT VICTIMS anthology, due this autumn from Megazanthus Press in the UK. Meanwhile, a review of BIRD OF PREY is now on the British Fantasy Society website. In the review, Alex Bardy says, “BIRD OF PREY is a short novella with a very big idea … Starting from humble beginnings, namely the showroom of a London auctioneer, this tale rapidly escalates into an extraordinary journey across Europe, in search of the secret behind the Zhar Ptitsa of Russian legend, the mythical Firebird … a little old lady calling herself A. Romanov wanders into Fowler & Sons (a private auction house) clutching a small box with a crystal bird inside. Within days the crystal bird begins to grow and shed ‘feathers’, setting in motion a series of events that transform the comfortable life of Walts Walter, antique dealer, into something altogether more adventuresome … As Walts delves deeper into the history of the mythical Zhar Ptitsa, it soon becomes readily apparent that this bird is a whole lot more than it seems. Sure enough, we are treated to a Tintinesque race across Europe … The author does a wonderful job of building up the suspense …”
May 2: Another reading coming up, a Seven Towers event scheduled for 6.30 pm on Thursday May 9, part of the ‘Themed Thursday’ series in the Workman’s Club on Dublin’s Wellington Quay. The Workman’s Club is a great venue, a typical inner city building – all high ceilings and cornices – dilapidated but renovated if you know what I mean. One more snippet of news: another anthology sale in the USA: “Water, Some of It Deep” will appear in the forthcoming antho DARK VISIONS from the Chicago-based Grey Matter Press. It’s a long short story of over six thousand words, dealing with the difficult subject of child murder and our reaction to it. Not based on real-life experience, I hasten to add.
March 25: Waterford Writers’ Weekend took place very successfully last week in spite of a combination of ferocious rain, biting cold and high winds. A well organised series of events, if my reading on Friday was anything to go by. A good attendance turned up at an excellent venue: the Local History Room in Central Library. Many people stayed on for a few words afterward and sales were encouraging. Things ran very smoothly thanks to the friendly and courteous library and festival staff. See below for another photo of the reading. Next stop: Bradford, a hectic place come next Sunday evening, March 31. First up, Aeon Press will be launching our latest book, Bruce McAllister’s THE VILLAGE SANG TO THE SEA. I had no direct involvement in the preparation or production of Bruce’s book so it came as a pleasant surprise to read and discover just how good it is. More info, including a book trailer, is available at http://thevillagesang.com/#.UM55IR-Cxdc.twitter The Aeon Press launch will take place in the Conservatory of the Cedar Court Hotel at 6 pm and will be followed (or perhaps interrupted!) by a mad dash to the Hawthorn where, at 7 pm, I’m scheduled to read from my own work. It’ll probably be BIRD OF PREY but if time allows I’ll add an extra ingredient.
March 12: Waterford Writers’ Weekend takes place from 21 - 24 of this month. Those taking part include Jim Nolan, Ferdia Mac Anna, Dave Duggan, Marie Louise Fitzpatrick, Declan Meade, Kate Kerrigan, Jimmy Magee and my good self. Various events such as talks, workshops, readings and panel discussions are scheduled over the four days. Check it out at www.waterfordwritersweekend.ie My reading takes place in the Waterford Central Library, Lady Lane, at 3 pm on Friday 22. The reading will be in three parts: first, the short story “Lost Notes”, followed by an extract from the contemporary fantasy novella BIRD OF PREY, and rounded off with a Q&A session. Sound like thirsty work.
February 11: P-Con X – the tenth edition of Dublin’s Phoenix Convention, an Irish literary/speculative fiction event due to be held at the Irish Writers Centre early next month – has been cancelled for 2013. P-Con had become a regular fixture in the March calendar and is gone now. The question is: will it rise from the ashes next year? Otherwise this coming March will be a busy month. The Waterford Writers’ Weekend festival have asked me down to do a reading in the Central Library at 3 pm on Friday 22. More news of what the reading will be nearer the day. The following weekend, March 29 – April 1, Eastercon takes place in Bradford, an event to look forward to as by all accounts Eastercon is well organised and runs like clockwork.
Reviews of non-fiction books are not normally found on this site, but Oliver James’ AFFLUENZA annoyed the hell out of me so much that, even though the book was published all of six years ago and my review is consequently out of date, I don’t care – I only got around to reading it recently and feel compelled to put the review up. Mr James has another money-spinning tome released on the market just now. His latest offering is about office politics – a book to be avoided if AFFLUENZA is anything to go by.
January 21: Always Check Those Deadlines: Woke up on Friday morning, January 18, with a germ for a new short story. Later that day I scribbled a few notes on a piece of paper to set the idea in motion. On Sunday, January 20, I wrote a few hundred words and thought a lot more about it. Yes, certainly an idea worth developing – basically a mainstream plot with lots of appeal. What’s more, it would not be a long story, possibly in the 1800-2000 word range required for the Francis McManus Award, the most well-known story competition in Ireland. I rarely, if ever, enter because most of my stories are way beyond the 2000 word outer limit. (Quick check: of 75 short stories written, 65 are over 2k in length. Of the remaining ten, eight have been published and therefore ineligible. That leaves two – a glance at them and I think: naw, forget those). I start work on the story again this Monday morning, January 21. Excited now: this is going to be a good one and probably within the target word-count! I’d seen a McManus promotional leaflet recently and knew the competition was closing soon – at the end of the month? So, mid-sentence on page one, I googled and read that the competition had opened on Friday October 21 and was closing on Monday January 21. And I have in front of me the first half of the opening page of the definite winner. AAAAARRGH!! I could get the story rattled off and set it loose with a 4 pm postmark (last post from Lusk) but it would be rushed and anyway I have other things to do. If only I had checked the deadline on Friday. Maybe next year …
All of last year’s news items are now archived in Blog 2011 on the toolbar above. Seeing as it’s a new year, that page has been cunningly renamed Blog 2011-12.