News Archive 2016-2011
ALL NEWS ITEMS posted on this site from Dec 2016 through Jan 2011 (73 items):
73 Dec 15 2016: What a wonderful film Arrival is. At last, a demanding, intelligent slice of science fiction so good I’m not going to review it on my Film & TV Reviews page but instead urge all and sundry to see it as soon as possible. On another good note, New Year 2017 begins with a reading in Limerick on January 10, part of the local ‘On the Nail’ series – a case of renewing old acquaintances as my last reading at an ‘On the Nail’ event was in May 2014. That was a great night, my fellow guest back then being poet Paddy Bushe. The evening was exceptionally well organised and full of friendly faces. My piece then was a short story. Next month’s menu will consist of extracts, fiction and non-fiction, from WALKING ON RIPPLES. This reading has come about courtesy of Dominic Taylor and the Limerick Writers’ Centre. Venue details as follows:
SHANNON ROWING CLUB, SARSFIELD BRIDGE, LIMERICK CITY, TUESDAY JAN 10, 8pm
72 Nov 16 2016: I was sitting at the Albedo table in the dealers’ room at Eurocon in Barcelona, trying to sell copies of the latest magazine, when I overheard a snippet of conversation. “He’s a serious planet hunter, you know,” said one passer-by to another. My ears pricked up. Planet hunter? Well, it was a science fiction convention. I’ll have to get those ears tested – closer hearing revealed they were talking about gardening. The phrase used was ‘plant hunter’ not ‘planet hunter’. On such mis-hearings ideas grow so my latest short story, Diary of a Planet Hunter, will be colliding with the market-place as we speak. Pure science fiction, of course.
71 Oct 17 2016: Oh, Mama, can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again? Well, who would’ve believed it? I put on and listened to the Nobel Laureate’s BLONDE ON BLONDE last night, his most famous and masterful work. Brilliant stuff. I also listened to Deirdre Purcell talk about her latest book on Seán O’Rourke’s programme on RTE radio last week. It’s October, the great book publishing month when publishers and authors would bite the hand off you for a bit of promotion, particularly on our national broadcaster RTE. O’Rourke gave his guest twenty-three minutes of great publicity, a very generous slot on a programme that guarantees a great many sales. Deirdre Purcell used to work for RTE, and still does occasional pieces for them as far as I know. Back in October ’14 when WALKING ON RIPPLES came out, I recall the author Eimear O’Callaghan being interviewed by O’Rourke on his flagship programme about her book BELFAST DAYS – A 1972 TEENAGE DIARY. O’Callaghan got another twenty minute slice of very healthy exposure on national radio. Like Purcell, she also used to work for RTE. Coincidence, no doubt, that they both should get such generous slots. That’s my evil mind working overtime again.
I’ll soon be off to exorcise that evil mind at the European Science Fiction Convention in Barcelona with the Albedo crew (Bob, John, Frank) and our German-American friend Sharon – five of us sharing an apartment for four days and nights. What fun that should be. Curse my luck, FC Barcelona are playing in Seville that weekend, which is about as far from Barca as you can get without leaving Spain! Gory details (or perhaps not) of the convention when we return.
70 Sep 27 2016: So, a well known and established Irish publisher has decided to charge writers one hundred euro per submitted manuscript. Sean O’Keefe, owner of Liberties Press, defends this decision (implemented a couple of months ago) on the grounds that ‘the publisher provides a unique service to the author: editorial, promotion, design work, as well as attention and care. Unfortunately, these things all have to be paid for …’ Pardon me, but a lot of people, not all of them dimwits, believe that the publisher should pay for these things – otherwise we’re in vanity press territory. Interestingly, ‘Material sent by recognised literary agents will still be considered for publication for no fee, but all others require a cheque or money order …’ O’Keefe goes on to say, ‘Those that do not (pay the charge) will receive a standard email response; those that do will be considered carefully, and a report, of at least one page, will be sent to the author, providing a critical assessment of the manuscript, comments on commercial possibilities, and suggestions for next steps …’ Now that smacks of pay-for-publishing if ever I heard it. Towards the end of these new guidelines O’Keefe, who is well used to adverse publicity and controversy over several Liberties Press titles published in years past, states ‘there may be some authors, and other publishers, who disagree with our approach. They are of course free not to send material our way.’ He is right: they are free not to send, and, if they have any sense, they won’t.
69 Sep 3 2016: The Shorelines Arts Festival is only a fortnight away – here are details of my reading:
PORTUMNA BOAT CLUB, PORTUMNA CASTLE MARINA, SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 18, 10.30 am
– a nice early start to the last day of the festival. The reading will be more or less the same as for the West Cork event – two travel extracts from WALKING ON RIPPLES followed by the short story “Lost Notes” before rounding the morning off with a couple of amusing angling anecdotes. For anyone staying the night before I see that Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill are in concert on the Saturday and of course there will be other events to enjoy on the Sunday. Here’s a Festival video: https://youtu.be/3Z8fq_kwAXY
68 Aug 10 2016: Early Birds in County Galway – the lit-fest life continues this summer with a reading as part of the Portumna Arts Festival in September. The event, featuring WALKING ON RIPPLES, will be part of the appropriately named Shorelines Arts Festival and is scheduled for Portumna Boat Club at 10.30 am on the morning of Sunday September 18. That’s right: 10.30 on a Sunday morning – they get up early on the sabbath in that part of Galway, so I’m told. More details in a few weeks.
67 Jul 24 2016: No more charity shops! Recently I had the good fortune to read A TALE OF TWO CITIES on my Kindle. Not having read Charles Dickens since being force-fed by the Christian Brothers in school many years ago, I found myself reading an action-packed novel featuring great and unforgettable characters such as Sydney Carton and Madame Defarge. Best of all, the text has hardly aged since Dickens published it in 1859. If only that were the case with all books especially three I recently bought in charity shops. I must stop buying books in charity shops. They are in there for a reason – they are unloved. Since Dickens, my summer reading from these shops has been downhill all the way, consisting of a novel from the 1980s, one from the 1990s, and a short story collection from the 2000s. All three have been, like the Cork hurling team, largely disappointing – a pity because these are biggish names (Jeanette Winterson, Peter Robinson, Claire Keegan). I have formed a resolution now – to buy a brand new book fresh off the shelves of a proper bookshop. At least then the money (to be more correct: a tiny fraction of the money) may end up in the author’s back pocket rather than in the pocket of some other deserving cause. A triple review, capsule-reviews of sorts, can be found here (link).
66 Jun 22 2016: The nights are closing in – but the West Cork Literary Festival is only weeks away! I’m looking forward to a night in the Bantry Bay Hotel followed by a reading the morning after. Here are details of my programme: the event will open with two short factual extracts about fishing abroad – no worries, this is about the countries visited rather than fish caught. Then it’s straight into the fiction with “Lost Notes” – one of the chapters from WALKING ON RIPPLES. This short story won the Maurice Walsh Award some years ago and, like the rest of the book, has a watery theme ideal for West Cork. Towards the end of the story I pause to talk about the art of writing, which goes down well as most attendees will be into writing as well as reading. The event will round off with two light-hearted factual excerpts describing fishing related events – an amusing note to end on, to balance the rather darker “Lost Notes” short story. That’s the plan – whether we stick to it is another matter. The whole thing should take about three quarters of an hour. Hope to see you there. Here’s the venue & details:
BANTRY BOOKSHOP, WILLIAM STREET, MONDAY JULY 18, 11.15 am
65 May 8 2016: Writers Beware! Been meaning to put this item up for weeks but only getting around to it now. All the talk in the literary world lately has been the horrendous story of how Belfast author Eilis O’Hanlon’s work has been plagiarised on Amazon. Along with husband Ian McConnell, O’Hanlon co-authored (under the pseudonym Ingrid Black) a series of four detective novels published by Penguin and Headline from 2003-08. The first of these, THE DEAD, sold well and won a Shamus award in the USA. Eventually it went out of print only to re-emerge in August 2015 as an e-book called TEAR DROP written by a Joanne Clancy. Both books are identical, though characters’ names and background settings were changed or transposed in none too subtle a fashion. Not only was THE DEAD plagiarised, so were its sequels. All four were scheduled to appear as e-books on Amazon. The first book generated Kindle sales in excess of $15,000, making it one of Amazon’s most downloaded books at the time. Happily, Joanne Clancy’s ‘work’ has now been disappeared. That is of little consolation to the real authors and serves as a salutary lesson to all writers. The sorry saga reads like a real-life whodunit. Startling and gory details, including fascinating text comparisons, are available here (link).
64 Apr 8 2016: I’ve been invited to appear at this year’s West Cork Literary Festival to be held in Bantry, Co Cork. The festival runs from July 17-23. My slot is scheduled for the Bantry Bookshop at 11.15 on the morning of Monday July 18. Billed as a solo reading, it will most definitely centre on extracts from WALKING ON RIPPLES. The exact nature of the extracts will be revealed in early July. All I know for certain now is that my schedule is for 45 minutes which is great, plenty of scope there – a scoop of good old Rebel Red will go down well after an event that length, you may be sure. Festival details here (link).
On a separate note, an old magazine article about the chapbook BROKEN HEROES is now online on this site. The article, which appeared originally in Sensor, can be accessed by scrolling to the end of the Two Chapbooks page here (link).
63 Mar 10 2016: The USA podcasting service Pseudopod reports that the short story I sold them in January will go live on July 29 (a link will appear here once the story goes onstream). Meanwhile, Overload, winner of the Best-in-Issue prize way back in Albedo One #17, has made a welcome re-appearance in the reprint anthology DECADE 1: THE BEST OF ALBEDO ONE, which was finally published last month. Mention of all things Albedo leads to the delightful news that four Albedo One’rs (current editors Frank Ludlow and Bob Neilson, plus two eds emeritus: John Kenny and myself) will be in attendance at Eurocon in Barcelona from Nov 3-7. The flights are already booked – four nights in Barca! Who knows, fingers crossed, with a bit of luck, Messi & Co might be playing a home match in the Camp Nou that weekend.
62 Feb 3 2016: Another short story sale to report from the USA. This latest, a short piece of under a thousand words, was written a couple of months ago and has been taken by Pseudopod – the online podcasting service that, happily, pays their authors a pro rate. More news on the date the story goes live when I get word from the States. I’m looking forward to the podcast being available, and also to the appearance of “The Street” in Space and Time, ‘the longest, continuously-published, small press genre fiction magazine still in print!’ – according to the contract letter, no less. My new novel, working title MOUNTAIN FALLS, has been through several drafts and is now as good as I can cook it. Of course it’s not commercial enough to readily find acceptance in this very commercially-driven publishing world, but it’s out there fighting for a place in a difficult climate – more power to its literary elbow.
61 Jan 6 2016: Being a sucker for all things South American, specifically magic realism, I recently snapped up a copy of a novel by Argentine writer Pablo De Santis. VOLTAIRE’S CALLIGRAPHER first appeared in translation in these parts in 2010. It’s a short but tough read. Once the story gets going though, the reader is enveloped in a fascinating eighteenth century world full of secrets, automatons and of course – calligraphy. One of the reasons I picked up the book is because of the following quotes on the back cover: ‘Murder and mayhem … colourful characters and cases create a hazy atmosphere of intelligent escapism’ (Washington Post) & ‘A beguiling historical whodunit’ (New York Times). These quotes appear under a brief (and accurate) synopsis of the plot of VOLTAIRE’S CALLIGRAPHY and would appear to refer to the above-named novel. However, when I got home and began to read, I discovered that the above newspaper quotes referred not to the book I was holding in my hands but to another, and better known, novel by De Santis called THE PARIS ENIGMA. This ‘secret’ is not revealed on the book’s covers. You have to read the interior praise-pages to discover that you are, in fact, being hoodwinked by the manner in which these quotes are used. Now I know what to do for my next trick: I’ll gather all the ace quotes from the best reviews of my past titles, put them on the back cover of my next book and not reveal their attribution until the opening pages. Should result in a few extra sales! As for VOLTAIRE’s CALLIGRAPHER, HarperCollins should know better – there goes my chances with them, I guess.
60 Nov 3 2015: WALKING ON RIPPLES is now available for purchase from this site for 18 euro (post & packing included). To find out how to order a copy send an email to dmbc(at)gofree(dot)indigo(dot)ie and I will get back to you. The book is featured in the new 2015 edition of the annual Cork Holly Bough published just this week. The feature consists of photos and a large extract from the final chapter – a chapter which has cast a spell over many people. I have been asked by radio interviewers and newspaper editors, as well as general readers via email, if the incident described in this final chapter is true or not. My answer to them is to say: let the reader make up his or her own mind as to whether it’s fact or fiction. Yes, I’m sitting firmly on the fence on that one! The book is, of course, still available from the publisher Liffey Press and selected bookshops.
In other news a new short story of mine, a supernatural tale called “The Street”, has been bought by the long-established American magazine Space and Time and will appear in due course. And more good news: Season 5 of Homeland is as fine as ever, and the second series of the French language production The Returned is proving to be equally compelling.
59 Sep 12 2015: Hilary Mantel’s much praised short story collection THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER first saw light of day in September 2014, but I only got around to reading it recently. Like many others I was drawn by the intriguing title story and could no longer resist reading it. Who would not want to discover how Thatcher gets her comeuppance, or at least be mildly curious about how such fictional death is achieved? My opinion of Mantel’s collection is now up on the Book Reviews page above and that review might also be broadcast on the radio over the coming weeks.
58 Aug 6 2015: The perilous state of publishing came to light again at the end of last month in an interesting Irish Times article by Fiona O’Connor. The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society states that writers’ incomes have taken a nosedive. Average earnings of established professional authors amount to £11,000, down by almost a third since 2005. The average for all writers comes in at less than £4,000 and has been declining annually. By contrast, book output is rising. In 2014/15 the British and Irish publishing turnover was £4.6 billion, up from £3 billion in 2013. So how come turnover is up and incomes are down? You figure out the maths, but clearly writers are being squeezed by the corporations and conglomerates that have taken over the industry. Consider the following: You cannot compete with gold-embossed titles and big names. You are non-commercial. Your only option is to be a one-man (or woman) publicist, distributor, agent, stockist, marketer and Jack-of-all-trades. You will have to interface with the increasingly hostile retail trade. Disappointment may be in store, if you’ll pardon the pun. As for the chains and bigger stores, genuine book-loving people who work in these palaces of neon-lit, gaudy-covered, best-selling covers no longer have the authority to make decisions about what to put on the shelves. It’s all homogenised, stultifying, hive-minded, moneyed titles coming down on high from faceless men and women in suits, marketers and accountants. Big bookshops have become like commercial radio-stations with ever-constricting and predictable play-lists. It’s all about turnover and product. When did I write that? Ten years ago. Those italicised words of mine were first published in a March 2006 article. Things have obviously got worse since then.
57 Jul 15 2015: The Roscommon reading of WALKING ON RIPPLES draws near. The book will feature in Mattimoes of Boyle, on Tuesday week, July 28 at 4 pm as part of the Arts Festival. The first draft of what might turn out to be the follow-up book, a new novel, is now complete and at second draft stage. A lot of hard work still to be done on it, which is great for taking the mind off bad weather and bad politics.
The people of Greece, who democratically elected an anti-austerity government, and then copper-fastened that decision by overwhelmingly rejecting austerity in the recent referendum, are now having austerity rammed down their throats by the EU – so much for democracy in Greece. What does the ‘E’ in EU stand for? It all smacks of Empire, doesn’t it, trampling over the expressed wishes of a small peripheral country. Our pale excuse for a finance minister, a citizen of another small peripheral country on the far edge of Europe from Greece, yesterday described the holding of that Greek referendum as a ‘disastrous political decision’ – so much for democracy in the EU. The neo-liberals are in charge of the asylum and they are shrieking. Enough politics, back to the writing …
56 Jun 26 2015: Why am I not one bit surprised by our government’s harsh approach to the current economic crisis in Greece? The Irish leader and his finance minister have both adopted a hard-line attitude against the democratically-mandated Greek government’s bid to engineer a debt write-down for its people, many of whom are living through a humanitarian crisis in their homeland. But then, our finance minister is the same man who, in 2011 when speaking of what ‘we’ owed to the bondholders in the middle of our crisis, said that the Irish taxpayer (ie ordinary Joe Soaps) would ‘honour their debt to the last red cent’ – the debt being what was owed to the bondholders and the EU banks by our out-of-control and unregulated financial institutions. One would hardly expect our government to change tack now. That would put credibility at home and (more importantly) in Europe, in danger.
To hear these two poodles cosy up to the ECB, the IMF and Angela Merkel by touting this über-capitalist viewpoint, is worrying. It confirms that our governing party in Ireland is one that backs big business and the interests of the wealthy above the welfare of the common people. After all, the Greeks had the temerity to suggest imposing taxes on commercial stakeholders and the well-off rather than making the ordinary citizen fork up to bail out the bondholders and the banks. That goes against the grain of our government and the EU, both of which clearly have no real social concerns at heart. The self-interest of big business and making money are their priorities. What we (and the Greeks and the rest of the EU) badly need is a more socially aware, and humane, approach. But we’re hardly likely to get that any time soon. We live in a time, and in a culture, that is dominated by greed and the generation of profit at the expense of more important values. We are all expected to sing off the same laissez-faire hymn-sheet, to be good lap-dogs just like our leader and his minister.
55 Jun 3 2015: Bad weather can be a good thing, especially if you’re a writer. The delayed arrival of our summer (if it ever comes at all) has meant that, instead of outdoor pursuits, I’ve been going full tilt at a new book. A novel. Not science fiction. Mainstream. Irish. Set partly in the nineteenth century though most of it is present day. About three quarter ways through the first draft at the moment. Looking at the forecast makes me think I’ll have plenty of indoor time to tackle the rest of it.
Another reading coming up next month: Tuesday July 28 to be exact, in Mattimoes of Boyle, County Roscommon. The time of the reading is set for 4 pm. The event is part of Boyle Arts Festival. With the Tuesday being in the middle of festival week plus the fact that a lot of people will be on holidays anyway, I’m hoping a good crowd will turn up to be regaled with various extracts – from WALKING ON RIPPLES, of course!
54 April 21 2015: Great to hear that the old Seven Towers Last Wednesday readings & open-mic nights have been revived, and named the Sunflower Sessions in honour of the late Sarah Lundberg. The next event will take place upstairs in Jack Nealon’s pub, 165 Capel Street Dublin, on the last Wednesday of this month – April 29 at 7.30 pm. I’ll do a reading from WALKING ON RIPPLES in Nealon’s and will also read from that book at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine taking place this year from May 15-17. My reading spot at the East Cork event is scheduled for 12.00 pm on Saturday May 16 in the Garden Tent. As well as a general reading I will of course include the book’s one and only secret recipe – delicious instructions on how to prepare and cook a salty sea sprat.
53 Mar 22 2015: The promised Seascapes interview goes out on RTE Radio One between 10.30 and 11 pm on Friday night March 27. All to the good as far as WALKING ON RIPPLES is concerned – the broadcast should help get things motoring in terms of spring sales (twice in January the book entered one of Amazon’s Top 30 lists, but only for a brief visit each time). A further boost now would keep things ticking over nicely. Seascapes will be available as a podcast on the RTE site for those who miss the broadcast. On a related note, the LMFM interview (all of nearly twenty minutes) is still available for download on the LMFM site. Just go to the Late Lunch podcasts and click on the December 15 show. Here’s the link
52 Mar 18 2015: Another excellent review, this in the Spring 2015 issue of Irish Country Sports & Country Life magazine, under the sub heading WALKING ON RIPPLES is NOT your average angling book – dip into it and you’re caught like a fly in a spider’s web. The article, spread over a generous three pages, contains a number of extensive extracts from the text accompanied by these kind comments: “… we glide between fact and fiction and cannot help but wonder where, if anywhere, is there a crossover point. Yes, this chapter is fiction, we know that. But what a tale is woven; we are wrapped like a spider’s fly. Only an angling thread reminds us that this is an angling book; we use that thread to move from what might be an uncomfortable world into the light again. An allegory for angling itself? After a while I forgot to separate the fact from the fiction; I didn’t care as the writing is addictive and, like a well-taken fly, I was hooked.”
The book should also feature on RTE’s Seascapes programme one of these Friday nights. An interview, conducted by Marcus Connaughton, is already in the can so should go out soon.
51 Jan 27 2015: A good review of WALKING ON RIPPLES has appeared in the January 2015 edition (#466) of the renowned UK magazine Trout Fisherman, where Jeffrey Prest writes under the heading An Engrossing Stroll Through Irish Angling:
“Irish short story writer David Murphy applies a literary flourish to angling in his homeland, in this eclectic book that mixes real-life essays on game and saltwater fishing with several short stories. The book’s flap-notes have it spot-on where the overall effect of this blend is concerned –“part fiction, part memoir, part travelogue – this is not a dry fishing manual full of technical jargon but a lyrical tribute to the angling life.” It’s a book upon which I seized with particular relish because I have unfinished business where the defining book on Irish fishing – the soul of it rather than the mere technical nuts and bolts – is concerned. I thought Dennis Moss had come up with it in IRISH RISE four years ago but the wording and image on its cover proved deceptive; this was a nuts and bolts job, albeit a very good one. Would David Murphy be the man to convey the mood of what it means to fish ‘across the water’? Almost, it turns out. Certainly, you get a sense of place – I know now that Tramore is the Republic’s Skegness (“vinegar-strewn chippers and gougers on the loose for their annual week”) or that Donegal loughs are “the most alluringly beautiful and stunning of Ireland’s fishing secrets.” All the book lacks is more characters – a genuine cross-section of men and women whose words and thoughts collectively offer an insight into what makes Ireland’s anglers tick. But that’s just my bias and not one that should deter you from buying one of the better angling books I’ve read this year. Murphy has a vivid turn of phrase (“Great to be back in sacred, spiritual places where … ghosts of history abound, trout rise and sons and daughters speak”) and his short stories are masterly, their darkness gradually unfolding, like a cinematic villain stepping slowly from the shadows.”
50 December 16 2014:
Excellent publicity for WALKING ON RIPPLES in:
The book can be purchased here.
Of course there’s been other publicity: on radio, in papers and magazines (I hope to put up an audio clip of one of the radio shows on this site over coming weeks). As regards articles and reviews, some headlines have been predictable, for example: The Munster Express: Gone Fishing – doh. Others have been more inventive: Latest Book Causing Ripples. My favourite so far is from a very local North Dublin magazine: Odd Fishing Book Will Hook And Reel You In – that sums it up in a nutshell. All distribution including online and retail outlets is fully in place now for the past few weeks and sales are encouraging. I’m told that several branches of a major chain have had to re-order stock, which is great. Onwards and upwards.
News of other things to round off 2014: two of my stories will see the printed page once again: “Overload”, winner of ‘best-in-issue’ prize in #17 of Albedo One Magazine way back in September 1998 (and included in the LOST NOTES collection), is re-printed in the anthology DECADE 1: THE BEST OF ALBEDO ONE from Aeon Press. Meanwhile, in the USA, Freedom Forge Press includes “Collateral Damage” in volume two of their anthology series FORGING FREEDOM. Also in the US, renowned editor Ellen Datlow selected “We Do Things Differently Here” (published in Des Lewis’s HORROR WITHOUT VICTIMS anthology June 2013) for an Honourable Mention in her YEAR’S BEST 2013. On the poetry front, only five published this year compared to eleven in 2013, but the calibre of publication for 2014’s poems is higher. Following on from a poem in Cyphers last May, I have one in the final farewell issue of The SHOp magazine, a bumper double-issue that came out at the end of November. Sad to see The SHOp cease publication – thanks to John and Hilary Wakeman for their hard work with this superb magazine over the years. Sadly, all things do end. There are two additions to the review pages above: the latest Chris Nolan film Interstellar and a book by Jon McGregor. Finally (!), below is an image from the Fantasy Classics by Irish Authors panel at Eurocon in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (in old money: the Burlo), Dublin, way back last August – that’s Peadar Ó Guilín on the left and Maura McHugh (photo: taikakirjaimet).
49 Oct 6 2014: WALKING ON RIPPLES was published by the Liffey Press on October 3 and is now in full distribution – available in all good bookshops, as they say. It looks great: the addition of a miniature cover image on the spine, as well as flaps inside front and back covers, lend a quality to the product that places it firmly as a ‘gift book’ in the upcoming gift book market. WALKING ON RIPPLES is the latest entry in the well-stocked category of fishing books in the great literary or ‘romantic fishing’ tradition. In other words, it’s not a ‘how-to’ manual about angling, it’s a fishing book in a well established line of other books – reflective, speculative, full of allegory, memory and metaphor. Many writers have produced works like this, including Chris Yates, Thomas McGuane and John Gierach, to name a few. The best known is undoubtedly Norman Maclean’s A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. What makes WALKING ON RIPPLES stand out as something different, however, is the fact that five of the eleven chapters are entirely fictional. There are stories here about a kayaker who is a child murderer; an angler who fishes not for fish, but for the souls of those who have taken their own lives; the story of a fisherman whose sad and tragic disintegration becomes evident through his fishing diary. There’s also a story about a Stone Age tribe discovering ocean tides for the first time, resulting in the birth of a whole new religion. For good measure there’s a story about a sentient goldfish – a fish with genuine human feelings. What more could you want? I almost forgot: there’s also a ghost story so it’s quite a blend; in places not a particularly light read, but the darkness adds to the mix, making it all part of that rich literary angling tradition. More info here:
48 Sep 10 2014: Recently had the pleasure of checking the final set of proofs for WALKING ON RIPPLES and everything is looking good for publication by the Liffey Press later this month. The e-book will follow a month or so later – the electronic version is being processed by Faber in the UK. WALKING ON RIPPLES comes in at a whopping 166 pages (of which 159 pages form the main body of the text). The cover blurb describes it as ‘part fiction, part memoir, part travelogue – a lyrical tribute to the joys of fishing’ and I’m delighted that the cover image succeeds in conveying the book’s contemplative nature. Here is what it says on the back cover: ‘Some fishermen thrive on numbers. Good luck to them. That’s what floats their boat. Give me an hour, or two or even three, with nothing. Then one little fish to save the day. Give this to me any time, more fun than the relentless reeling in of bucket loads of suicidal fish. Grant me time to take a break from casting, to sit on flat rocks and contemplate the land, the water, the birds that fly and cartwheel in overhead sky. Allow my eyes time to examine what floats as flotsam in the ripples at my feet. Let me jettison the jetsam of my life, and get on with taking in the great world that surrounds. The inhaling of things that matter, like smell of salt spray; tang of it in my nostrils of a windy day when I stand thirty feet up to be truly safe from breakers smashing into the rocks beneath, a day when my eyes witnessed but refused to believe what happened next.’
47 Aug 13 2014: I’ve only just heard of the sad and sudden death of Sarah Lundberg who passed away a couple of weeks ago. To say her death comes as a shock would be an understatement. Sarah ran the Seven Towers publishing house in Dublin as well as numerous reading events in town and elsewhere. I first met her in the Irish Writers’ Centre back in 2007, and in my all too brief meetings with her never found Sarah to be anything less than friendly and helpful both to me and numerous other writers. May she rest in peace.
46 Aug 4 2014: Four quick indicators of how Ireland has learned little from the economic crash. One: house prices in the Dublin area are now, on average, more than 24% higher than they were this time last year. When asked about this, the leader of our banana republic declared that he does not accept there is a property bubble. Two: the government – after years of imposing stringent charges, paycuts and denying salary increases in the public service – has just announced a payrise of between 16 and 24% for that most put-upon of low and middle income earners: hospital consultants. The iniquity continues. Three: one of our great banks, AIB, has just announced a pre-tax profit of 437 million for the first six months of this year. Those with long memories will recall similar obscene profits generated by banks prior to the bust. This return to form by a bank (which had to be bailed out by Irish citizens) is being reported on in the business-compliant media but is not being analysed as rigorously as it should be. Four: two former directors of another financial institution, Anglo Irish Bank, have been found guilty of giving illegal loans to ten developers (known as the ‘Maple Ten’) to buy shares in Anglo. They were sentenced last Thursday to … community service. In handing down his punishment, the judge told the pair, ‘Thank you, Gentlemen. Enjoy your community service.’ I kid you not. This last item was the sixth topic on Thursday’s main evening news on our national broadcasting service. Again, no analysis. No mention of the judge’s comments. A minor detail glossed over. Move on. In the same bulletin far more time was devoted to Ladies Day at Galway Races.
On a saner note, why not get away from it all and enjoy Eurocon, the European Science Fiction Convention, taking place in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin from Aug 22-24. I’m aware of one panel discussion I’m scheduled to take part in, called: ‘Made in Ireland: Fantasy Classics by Irish Authors’. The panel will discuss Wilde, Yeats, Dunsany, Swift, Stoker, etc, on Fri 22 at 3 pm. See you there or for refreshments afterwards.
45 Jul 8 2014: A new review is on the Book Reviews section above – Dermot Bolger’s 2012 novella THE FALL OF IRELAND, available in all good bookshops as they say. And while we’re on bookshops, on a recent stroll through Malahide I noticed that the town’s one-and-only outlet had, of course, disappeared. ‘Gone over a year now,’ a local explained to me, amazed I didn’t know it had closed ages ago – gone the way of all small bookshops, so it seems. But it’s not all bad news. Waterford lost a highly regarded second-hand bookstore, Gladstones, several years ago but now a relatively new one, equally good if not better, has taken the Gladstone’s place. Walk down Michael Street towards John Street and there it stands on your left. This Michael Street bookshop contains a great selection of second-hand books upstairs, new ones downstairs, and a friendly, knowledgeable voice behind the counter. Many of the titles are non-commercial fiction, non-fiction and poetry and are otherwise hard to get, with delightfully few of those glitzy covers (ordered in by accountants) that dominate your eyeballs in chained bookstores. A discussion on poetry was taking place between owner and customer as I browsed the shelves. What more could a person want? Oh, there’s a large array of genre material and a small selection of vinyl as well – bliss.
44 Jun 13 2014: NEW BOOK ON THE WAY …
… and a new departure because WALKING ON RIPPLES, to be published this autumn by the Liffey Press (Dublin), will be my first book largely featuring non-fiction. Largely? Because the book also features fiction. Confusing? Yes, but put it this way – WALKING ON RIPPLES is made up of eleven chapters, five of which are short stories. The remaining chapters are factual, consisting of articles based on fishing and fish I have caught over the last twenty-five years or so, both in Ireland and abroad. The short stories are also based on fishing or fish or various maritime events, which unifies the whole book into a sort of fiction-memoir, a blend of fact and fiction centered on angling. But don’t get the wrong idea – WALKING ON RIPPLES is not just about fishing, it’s about everything. More details will follow as the book’s schedule draws nearer. One more thing: items of scrolling news appearing on this page will no longer be preceded by the exact date of posting. From now on, news items will be datelined month only because putting down the precise date makes each new post seem to be, after a short while, too … eh, what’s the word? … dated.
43 May 18 2014: Two very pleasant reading experiences to report on this month. On Sunday May 4 I was invited to take part in the launch of issue 77 of Cyphers Magazine in Strokestown House, Co. Roscommon – part of the 2014 Strokestown International Poetry Festival. A successful launch it was too – and a festival that by the looks of it would be well worth spending a whole weekend at. Two days later, the May ‘On the Nail’ reading took place in Limerick. Such a friendly event, I can’t think of a better organised or more smoothly run reading than this – complete with restaurant, bar, stage and book table – and well attended too. Below is a photo of poet Paddy Bushe, MC Ann O’Regan and myself at the venue on the night of the reading (photo: Dominic Taylor).
42 Apr 20 2014: I’ve been invited along as guest reader, together with poet Paddy Bushe, to the May ‘On the Nail’ literary gathering in the Loft Venue at the Locke Bar, George’s Quay, Limerick, on Tuesday May 6. I will be reading and discussing the short story “Lost Notes”. The event kicks off at 8 pm – sharp! – so the poster says. Thanks to Dominic Taylor and the Limerick Writers’ Centre for this.
41 Mar 12 2014: Artist Starves in Garret: Shocker – that was not the headline though it might have been. In an informative article published by the Irish Times on March 1, Gemma Tipton revealed that a recent survey by Visual Arts Ireland yielded interesting, but unfortunately unsurprising, results. In the case of 580 exhibitions surveyed, not only were 43% of artists asked to contribute to exhibition expenditure, but basic production and installation costs incurred by the artists were not covered. In a staggering 77% of instances fees to artists for talks and workshops were NOT paid. Tipton points out that this survey was based on exhibits in publicly funded spaces rather than in private or commercial galleries – which goes to show what little respect the state has for art, despite tiresome clichés trotted out by hypocritical politicians bending our ear about the great Irish creative process; they’d much rather spend public funds topping up already grossly overpaid salaries. However, Tipton also makes the telling point that some of the fault for this scandalous situation rests with the readiness of too many artists to sacrifice being paid for the sake of exposure.
This excellent piece, which is well worth reading, begs the question: are there parallels between the world of the visual arts and that of the writer? Consider that Tipton goes on to say how artists are often told, ‘We aren’t in a position to give you a fee but we would like to show your work.’ Sounds familiar? You bet it does to writers whose work is often taken by magazine publishers with no payment whatsoever. Recently I read another piece which stated that a mere 3% of writers earn enough from their work to make a living. It seems you can apply a similar statistic to the art world. So for every John Grisham or Louis le Brocquy there are thirty-three others trying vainly to eke out an existence. Take the following example from my own writing career: a while back I was offered what seemed a reasonable reading fee to take part in an event about 180 kilometres from where I live. Nearer the date I was informed that no overnight accommodation would be provided, no restaurant vouchers, no travel expenses. The expectation was that it would be acceptable for this writer to sacrifice well over 50% of the fee on hotel, petrol and subsistence for what would effectively be two working days. Imagine a banker, lawyer, or executive saying yes to conditions like that? That experience of mine is due to the fact that many artists and writers shy away from implementing business model terms and conditions to their work simply because the world of commerce is anathema to them. And rightly so – the crass world of business has little in common with the creative world – but that attitude is a double-edged sword which leads to writers and artists being exploited.
Why do we put up with this? It’s partly a cultural problem caused by living in a society (perhaps I should say ‘living in an economy’ because these days life is increasingly about economy rather than society), where we are conditioned to accept ludicrous overpayment to certain elites whereas artists and writers are undervalued. Has it always been thus? Where are the great artistic patrons of former times? Where are the fine publishers of the past, willing to take a chance on the non-commercial, to publish something just because they deem it worthy of seeing the light of day rather than thinking through the pockets of the marketing men and other bean counters that run today’s publishing industry? Where are the grand independent bookshops – why have so many of them closed? Answers, as ever, on the back of a fiver – no, make it a tenner, the world of commerce is intruding and the garret needs a coat of paint. Gemma Tipton’s Irish Times article can be accessed here:
40 Feb 10 2014: All of this week, starting today Monday, I’m the featured writer – what they brilliantly, and modestly, call the Makin’ It Happen Author – in the BAB (Be a Bestseller) inbox magazine. To view the item you have to register at www.beabestseller.com Thanks to Jennifer Aderhold and Michaela Zanello of BAB for this.
The short story collection LOST NOTES is now in full distribution. Print copies can be ordered from Amazon, Book Depository, Books Express, Alibris, etc. Prices vary but some include free delivery. Print distribution in independent Dublin outlets as follows: Winding Stair Bookshop (Ormond Quay), Books Upstairs on College Green, Connolly Books of Essex Street and Alan Hanna’s Bookshop in Rathmines. And of course it’s available from this site for 10 euro (or 8UK or 14US) including post & packing. Click the Lost Notes page on the menu bar for more details about this offer.
39 Jan 7 2014: I’m no longer an editor of Albedo One Magazine, having taken the decision last summer to step down following publication of issue 44 towards the end of 2013. I was one of the founders along with John Kenny, Bob Neilson and Philippa (aka Brendan) Ryder at the magazine’s inception in Phillipa’s house in Knocklyon in February 1993, and felt that twenty years at the helm was long enough. I’ve also withdrawn from involvement with the Aeon Award for Short Stories despite being one of the organisers of that competition since its beginnings in late 2003 through to the conclusion of the 8th successful running of the event, also at the end of last year.
This is quite a change. I won’t know myself now with all the free time to devote to my own writing – and therein is the principal reason for my stepping down from both positions. The day-to-day running of the magazine and short story contest – reading submissions, dealing with enquiries, single order sales, back issues, postage and subscription renewals – all this ate into valuable writing time. Not that it was overly stressful or too time-consuming, but opening up emails every morning and dealing with magazine and contest matters had become a definite distraction, an energy-sapping deflection from what I should have been sitting at the PC for: to produce my own work. Also, as regular visitors to this site will know, my focus in recent years has shifted from genre writing to work of a different nature. I needed to clear the decks to dedicate myself more fully to this new direction my writing has taken. I look forward now to spreading my wings in different areas of the literary landscape.
So that’s it – a new year, a fresh start. Happily, it’s an amicable departure so I’m staying on as part of the Tuesday night meetings in town and wish Bob and Frank the best of luck in keeping Albedo One and the Aeon Award on the road for many years to come.
38 Dec 20 2013: The second edition of the short story collection LOST NOTES is now entering full online distribution. The book may not show up on various platforms until the new year but here’s about half of them: Adlibris, Amazon, Bertrams, Ingrams, Book Depository, Paperback Shop Ltd, Superbookdeals, Books Express – without mentioning many other outlets in the US, UK and elsewhere. It will also be available in several of the usual independent literary bookshops in Ireland hopefully by the end of January.
Been a while since the last film review appeared here, so on foot of a recent visit with Bob to Cineworld where we donned our 3D specs to watch Gravity, I’ve posted a verdict on it in the Film & TV Reviews section. The review went live yesterday.
An e-copy of the anthology DARK VISIONS 2 arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago. Editors Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson came up with this blurb for the story “Water, Some of It Deep” – Often the darkest places on Earth are those with the shiniest veneer. What terrible force is it that attracts the like-minded to a quaint seaside resort in the Irish countryside, turning it into a home for horrendous evil? Indeed. I’m looking forward to the print complimentary copies winging it all the way from Chicago to here, thanks to the publisher Grey Matter Press.
37 Nov 29 2013: 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:
36 Oct 8 2013: 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/
35 Sep 6 2013: 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.
34 Aug 3 2013: 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 here.
33 Jul 1 2013: 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 menu bar. 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.
32 Jun 10 2013: 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 …”
31 May 2 2013: 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.
30 Mar 25 2013: 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 here. 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.
- In Waterford’s Central Library: who is that weird guy with the specs and funny hat looking in the window behind my right shoulder?
29 Mar 12 2013: 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.
28 Feb 11 2013: 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.
27 Jan 21 2013: 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 menu bar. Seeing as it’s a new year, that page has been cunningly renamed Blog 2011-12.
26 Dec 22 2012: Two quick snippets to wrap up the year. A review of a pair of books by John Banville (aka Benjamin Black) is up now on the Book Reviews page, and the full text of last August’s grilling by Bob Neilson is on the About & Bookshop page.
25 Nov 6 2012: The Albedo editorial crew held a meeting recently at which it was decided that, as part of our celebrations to mark twenty years of magazine publishing next Spring, we’re going to attend Eastercon – the largest convention in the UK. The event will take place in the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, and take up the entire Easter weekend taking three days – and three nights. We intend being there from the afternoon of Friday March 29 to the following Monday and are hoping that all our UK friends, contributors and contacts will be there too. More news regarding our participation nearer the event.
24 Sep 28 2012: Took part in two readings this past week. The first was last Friday evening in the Royal Society of Antiquaries, a magnificent Georgian building in Dublin’s Merrion Square. That was part of Culture Night, and a very good and well attended night it was too. The second reading, a Seven Towers event, took place on Wednesday in the Twisted Pepper café. The previous night, Tuesday, what publisher Brian J Showers called a ‘Swan River Press Gathering’ took place in the Duke of Duke Street. The Swan River books are hugely impressive and of great quality. Fine limited editions on good paper with impressive end pages and dust jackets to die for, featuring good understated artwork. Even the hardback covers, hidden by dust jackets until you take a look, feature marbling or other effects, including illustrations. Swan River is niche publishing at its best. More power to the man’s elbow.
“Sanctuary”, a short story of mine loosely based on global warming, which had been taken by the sadly defunct magazine Membra Disjecta, has since been sold to another US magazine Quantum Realities and appeared in their debut issue published on Sep 1. Meanwhile “Night of Our Red Eye” a story about the futility of existence (no less!) is in the current (#42) of Albedo One.
23 Aug 20 2012: Way back in 1997 I interviewed Bob Neilson for his graphic publication THE BIG FELLOW – an Albedo One publication that came out in March of that year. Now Bob has turned the tables by putting a microphone under my nose as part of the ongoing series of interviews on his site. The result can be accessed here.
I’ve added a new item to the list of options at the top of the page: Book Reviews. At the moment the new page contains reviews of eight genre and mainstream titles – it’s got all sorts! Most of these reviews first saw light of day in old issues of Albedo, including one of my old Crazy Diamond columns.
22 Jul 15 2012: Thought I was unshockable when it comes to the perilous state of the Irish publishing business but recent events in Kerry and Dublin take the biscuit. While surfing various publishers I came across Philip Casey’s blog. Philip compiles the excellent Irish Writers Online (see links), and his blog tells the story of how thousands of Brandon books were scheduled to be pulped on June 1st this year – without the authors being informed. Now it’s normal practice for a publisher to offer bulk purchase of ‘remaindered’ books to authors at a generous discount (money for the publisher’s pocket and a supply for the author) but in this case writers were not contacted.
It seems that Brandon, following the death of founder Steve MacDonagh, were taken over by O’Brien Press. However, O’Brien took on the lucrative titles (ie Gerry Adams) leaving the rest for the liquidator. You can browse a sad list of over ninety paperbacks and hardbacks, and see the numbers of copies of each title (including 334 of Jack Barry’s MISS KATIE REGRETS which I reviewed some years ago in Albedo One #33) on www.blog.philipcasey.com The books could only be retrieved by contacting the liquidator in Kerry and then by arrangement with Gill & Macmillan in whose Dublin warehouse the books were stored. It’s probably too late now if you’re one of those Brandon authors – the books are gone, no doubt pulped to free up space for yet more unlucky writers.
21 Jun 7 2012: Ham, Eggs & Michael Fassbender: The day before yesterday a gang of four of us went to see Ridley Scott’s eagerly awaited new film Prometheus in the Savoy. After the cinema we repaired to Govinda’s for a vegetarian bite to eat. What was the food like? More importantly, what was the film like? To find out the answers click on Film & TV Reviews above.
20 May 13 2012: The short story collection LOST NOTES is at last available in electronic format. It can be downloaded as a PDF for just €4.00 at the Aeon Press location here (the novella BIRD OF PREY is also available in PDF format for a bargain €4.00 from the same site). More information on either book can be found behind the Lost Notes and Bird of Prey tabs on the menu bar.
19 Apr 26 2012: Two items this time: the first a bucket of praise, the second a raving rant. First, the nice bit: watched a double-bill of the first two episodes of The Bridge on BBC Four last Saturday night – just the thing to plug the gap now that Homeland has ended. The Bridge is a new series, a Danish-Swedish co-production based on the discovery of a body placed exactly on the Swedish-Danish border. Where’s that? I hear you ask. To find out, click on Film & TV Reviews above … now for that rant:
Yet another paper turd plopped into my porch yesterday, my letterbox being the maildrop for books sent to Albedo One for review. Long ago, in ancient BSJ times (Before Steve Jobs), writers usually had to acquire a typewriter or a pen and reams of paper to produce a manuscript which then went through the acceptance/rejection process of a proper publisher. Now with the advent of word processing and Print-On-Demand publishing, anyone can cobble together a heap of junk and self-publish it. There’s nothing wrong with the noble tradition of self-publishing. Neil Jordan and Roddy Doyle did it, to mention a couple of local examples of an acceptable practice that is being mangled now by POD technology. This latest tome to arrive for Albedo’s perusal? A typo on the title page sets the tone. A quick flick through the text reveals that two point-sizes have been used: miniscule and downright invisible. There’s no publisher’s name or logo on the spine. Neither is there an imprint on the lead-in pages. If only this had been an uncorrected proof or galley copy sent out for review purposes. It wasn’t. To cap it all, the writer is threatening the world with Volume 2.
The problem this creates for small presses like ourselves at Aeon, or the sadly defunct Silver Lake or equally respected imprints like Tartarus or Golden Gryphon, is that we are being undermined by the relentless POD invasion that threatens to turn into a flood that will drown out the small press tradition because potential readers will glance at a book’s imprint, let it be Aeon or whatever, and automatically rubbish it because they will deem it to be yet another vanity-published piece of POD crap.
On a different note entirely, the Albedo Spring Sale of back issues (no charge for postage!) might still be open. Check it out at http://www.albedo1.com
18 Mar 21 2012: Below is a shot of poet and author John W Sexton with a well known writer at the launch of the Seven Towers anthology CENSUS 3 in the Irish Writers’ Centre in February (photo: Rafael Joacim)
I’ll be reading from the new novella BIRD OF PREY at the upcoming Last Wednesday event in the Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey Street, on Wednesday next, March 28. Copies of the book will most definitely be available.
17 Feb 23 2012: The cat that has adopted us since Pepé died is looking forward to the first royalty statement from Damnation Books, due at the end of this month. It should tell a lot about how BIRD OF PREY is doing Stateside. The amount of food the cat will get will be dependent on US sales. No wonder she’s eyeing me anxiously right now – the poor thing has turned peroxide with the hunger. The book is available, and selling well, in Dublin’s Forbidden Planet shop on the quay by the Ha’penny Bridge and copies of it are spreading through the libraries like a virus.
A pleasant evening was had by all at the Irish Writers’ Centre last night for the launch of CENSUS 3 – the latest anthology from the dynamic Seven Towers – containing “Collateral Damage” a mainstream story about a son who shoots his father during the dark days of the Northern Ireland conflict. Another story of mine, “Night of Our Red Eye”, is a work that defies genre so should sit well in the pages of Albedo One #42, a magazine that itself defies genre. Being a long-time editor I’m delighted to be back in Albedo for the first time since 2005. For news of all things to do with the magazine (we’re planning a Spring Sale of back issues to be launched very soon), Aeon Press and the Aeon Award for short stories, visit http://www.albedo1.com
I’ve been checking the little black book lately and was struck by the amount of short story acceptances I’ve had that never saw the light of day because, for a variety of reasons, the magazines that accepted the stories disappeared off the radar before getting around to publishing them. Here’s the full list: Auguries, Maelstrom, Odyssey, Nova, Highcliff, Dark Eyes, Kimota, Roadworks, Sierra Heaven, Doorways, Membra Disjecta. Some of these closed for reasons that are unclear (Roadworks), others due to illness on the part of editors or pressures of time or financial difficulties. Most were paying markets and at least one of the above paid a pro rate. Sadly, such closures are more frequent now with the economic climate and the rise of digital publishing. Can anyone out there match that list?
16 Jan 10 2012: The novella BIRD OF PREY was published in the US by Damnation Books on December 1, 2011. A contemporary fantasy based on the Russian myth of the Firebird, it combines a hint of darkness, the supernatural, and the odd touch of humour. It’s available in kindle format here as well as in paperback. Also available from other online shops (Abe, iTunes, etc) for Nook, Sony and other e-book formats. The paperback is $12.89 and is available through Barnes & Noble and all the usual online outlets. Signed copies are available from this site for 10 euros, 8 UK pounds or 14 US dollars – including post and packing. For more info on the book click on the new Bird of Prey tab on the menu bar.
For signed copies via Paypal email: dmbc(at)gofree(dot)indigo(dot)ie – or send a cheque to the Albedo address (2, Post Road, Lusk, Co Dublin, Ireland).
15 Dec 10 2011: The novella BIRD OF PREY was published in the US by Damnation Books on December 1, 2011. A contemporary fantasy based on the Russian myth of the Firebird, it comes with a hint of darkness, the supernatural, and the odd touch of humour. It’s available in kindle format here as well as in paperback. Also available from other online shops (Abe, iTunes, etc) for Nook, Sony and other e-book formats. The paperback is $12.89 and is available through Barnes & Noble and all the usual online outlets. The US paperback distributor is Ingram. I’ll put up news about signed copies, and Irish and UK distribution, after Christmas.
14 Dec 2 2011: Reading coming up next week (Wednesday December 7) at the Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, courtesy of Seven Towers. A first chance to hear an extract from BIRD OF PREY!
13 Oct 30 2011: Here is the cover of BIRD OF PREY, due December 1. More news about the book will follow over the next month (photo of book cover).
12 Sep 22 2011: Being long enough in the tooth to have good memories of the famous British TV series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Alec Guinness et al, it was with some trepidation that I approached this new film of the same name. Could it possibly be as good? To read more, click on the Film & TV Reviews tab above …
Speaking of British TV, a friend recently lent me a copy of KEY TO THE SACRED PATTERN, a book written by Henry Lincoln – one of the co-authors of those 1980′s bestsellers THE HOLY BLOOD AND THE HOLY GRAIL and THE MESSIANIC LEGACY. I devoured KEY… and was intrigued to read Lincoln state in the book, writing in 1997, that the BBC now seem to disown any involvement in the whole Da Vinci Code/Rennes-le-Château mystery. This assertion by Lincoln strikes a chord because several times over the years (decades!) I have sought to acquire on video or DVD the three Chronicles programmes originally broadcast in the early seventies. Chronicles was the BBC’s flagship history/archaeology series of the time, yet its three most famous programmes (The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem? The Priest, the Painter and the Devil and The Shadow of the Templars) – which one could argue kickstarted the popularity of the entire Holy Grail business and were deemed worthy and interesting enough by the Beeb to be repeated in 1979 – are not available from the BBC shop. They don’t seem to be available in too many other places either. Why is this? Could it be a conspiracy?
The Albedo One team will attend two upcoming conventions: Octocon 2011 (October 15-16) at the Camden Court Hotel, Camden Street, Dublin, and a one-day event: Bristolcon at the Ramada Hotel, Bristol, on Saturday October 22.
Took the plunge last week and bought a Kindle – not much choice in the matter these days with so much material (including much of my own) being published electronically in e-books and e-zines. I’m impressed with how easy it is to use and how handy a gadget it is for storing not only books, magazines and newspapers but also files and documents. I’ve already taken out a magazine subscription and downloaded about twenty books (free ones, of course). PRESSURE SUITE – DSF Anthology 3 is well worth a look if you have an e-reader.
11 Aug 16 2011: It’s with deep regret that I heard today of the passing of Colin Harvey. Colin suffered a severe stroke yesterday morning from which he did not recover – an untimely death at the age of only 51. I first met Colin over beer and a chat at P-Con several years ago, and likewise over a few late nights at the Delta in Montreal during Worldcon 2009. I had the pleasure of reading and accepting his story for the current issue of Albedo One. He was a good friend to us at the magazine and will be sorely missed. Gone all too soon.
10 Aug 14 2011: Five months later and the hits are still coming in on the film review of The Rite. To make it easier to find, it’s located now on a new page along with a review of the last episode of Lost. Click on Film & TV Reviews on the menu bar.
Yet another anthology sale: “South Lake Road” will appear in A RUSTLE OF DARK LEAVES due to appear in America later this year. We’ve been discussing this burgeoning anthology market at our weekly Albedo meetings recently and have come to the conclusion that the short story field, certainly in genre fiction, is now increasingly anthology-driven. Is this because the traditional market – magazines – are in trouble with decreasing circulations and spiralling costs? Is the strengthening anthology market a sign that things are looking good for the future of the short story? Does this make it better for the writer in that, the more specific the publisher’s anthology focus (and some of the anthology guidelines are very specific indeed), the easier it is to sell a story? In other words, does suitability of subject matter take precedence over quality of writing in the eyes of some anthology editors? Is it easier to sell a story that just happens to fit an anthologist’s remit rather than sell it to a broad, open market such as a mass-appeal magazine? Questions, questions! I don’t know the answers to most of them. Do you?
Speaking of Albedo One magazine, the brand new issue 40, a special bumper issue of twelve stories spread over 100 pages, is now available containing all the usual reviews, interviews, etc, as well as the fiction. It looks fabulous – I’m gutted I’m not in it. I’m going to have to have a word with the editors one of these nights. Have a goo and order a copy at http://www.albedo1.com
9 Jul 17 2011: Summer news: next reading is a Seven Towers event on Wednesday August 3 at 1.15 pm in the Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. Not sure yet what I’ll read. Depends on whether or not there’s a theme and who else is reading. Gotta check it out …
Delighted to say that DIGITAL SCIENCE FICTION have bought a new story, “The Blanket Box”, for their upcoming third anthology – they pay their authors a pro rate, a good thing in these dark recessionary times! There’s another story of mine forthcoming in the Aeon Press antho BOX OF DELIGHTS due out this Autumn. “Sympathy for the Devil” is also a new piece, one that I’m hoping will sit nicely among works of fiction from such luminaries as Mike Resnick, Steve Rasnic Tem and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Also included in the book are several other Irish writers, for instance: Ian Wild, John Robbins and Bob Neilson.
8 Jun 2 2011: Two new pictures are up onsite – both from last month’s reading in Chapters Bookstore. Click on the Photos tab to see ‘em.
The novella BIRD OF PREY is now scheduled for release on December 1. The ongoing delays with my previous publisher were unacceptable. In the end we parted company amicably so I’ve now placed the manuscript with the Californian publisher Damnation Books. The novella will be available in e-book format and in trade paperback. Roll on December 1.
7 May 20 2011: The Queen She Came to Call on Us … and this site’s ‘keep-it-to-writing’ rule gets broken again.
Her Majesty is leaving now after a successful visit. A visit during which the great unwashed were kept firmly at arm’s length – for security reasons, we were told. Yet this coming Monday the holder of probably the most hated office in the world, the presidency of the USA, will be in College Green at an event anyone can attend. No tickets, no invites, required. Even Osama bin Laden could turn up … oh sorry, I forgot.
Not so for Her Majesty. It is extraordinary how in a so-called republic we have created our very own aristocratic classes – a golden circle of clawing politicians, celebrities, media moguls, etc – some of whom, rather embarrassingly, could not prevent themselves from a kow-towing bend of the knee though they are not British subjects and therefore should not curtsy. This opinion-forming class, our very own Etonians, are of one voice. The media, themselves part of what one commentator called ‘Official Ireland’, are also of the same orgasmic voice (especially the gushing television and radio commentaries): ‘She Is Terrific And The Visit Is Wonderful.’ ‘Let’s All Clap Ourselves On The Back.’
Always take cosy consensus with a pinch of salt. Remember 1979 when the Pope came to see us? We got wrapped up in the symbolism, the pageantry, the ceremony, then too. We congratulated ourselves on doing a good job and the feel-good factor was cranked up to ninety. I even know of atheists who were infected and got involved in an event that totally dominated Irish life for three days and were sad to see him go. Yet how, in retrospect, do we view that 1979 visit? Many see it as the last sting of a dying wasp, the death-throes of the power of a corrupt church in Ireland.
In future years how will we look back on this royal visit? Many aspects of her being here are to be more than welcomed: she seems to be a decent person; her small gesture in the Garden of Remembrance was much appreciated, as was her speech. But hopefully in time to come we will view this as the last sting of yet another Irish wasp: the privileged, fawning, one-voiced classes – many of whom led this country to the brink of an economic abyss into which we may yet fall. That golden circle remains intact, despite our woes. And there is no sign of that aristocratic circle breaking. If these past four days are anything to go by, it’s prospering.
6 May 13 2011: Yesterday evening’s was a themed reading in a nice bright corner of Chapters Bookstore on Parnell Street. Very well organised too, fair play to Seven Towers and MC Oran Ryan who did an excellent job. Next up it’s back to the Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey Street, for another reading at 1.15 pm on Wednesday June 1.
Just signed a contract for a new story in a forthcoming anthology. More on that in my next post. Sign of the times: it looks like the short story collection LOST NOTES will soon be available in electronic format as a downloadable PDF for less than half the price of the printed book – I’ll see if I can make it available for download through this site also.
5 Apr 2 2011: Five readings scheduled so far this year, courtesy of Sarah Lundberg of the Seven Towers Agency, and all in Dublin. First up is the Mezz at the Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, on Saturday April 30 at 3 pm. Next: Chapters Bookstore of Parnell Street on Thursday evening May 12 at 6.30 pm.
The DOOMOLOGY anthology arrived in the post containing “Key to the City”. All 23 stories are over 6,000 words in length – almost 500 pages, a real doorstopper. Well done to all at the Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy Press.
There’s been a terrific response to the film review of The Rite (March 3 news item below), so much so that when I write the next review I’ll probably place it on a new webpage on this site dedicated to reviews (for more see reply to Adam Jones in the comment boxes underneath the news column back on the main page).
4 Mar 10 2011: for a free short story called “The Mirror Cracked” (and it is short, coming in at five pages) click on the ‘free story’ button on the right. An Interzone review described “The Mirror Cracked” as follows: ‘There is a subtle, humane quality … a sense that the author really is using his imagination and going beyond the obvious … a particularly fine performance.’ Enjoy.
3 Mar 3 2011: Went to see The Rite on Tuesday last. Frank Ludlow of Albedo One Magazine asked me to write a review for the Albedo website:
‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.’
‘What is your sin, my son?’
‘Profligacy, Father. I wasted two hours watching a film.’
‘Tell me about it, my son.’
‘Well, Father, there are several other sinners involved. Colin O’Donoghue, for instance. If overacting is a mortal sin and underacting a venial one, then O’Donoghue committed the latter offence. He stood there stony-faced throughout. Hardly as much as a facial twitch.
‘Ciarán Hinds plays a supporting role of professor-priest (Fr Xavier) whose task is to deliver a series of lectures (on the subject of exorcism) to an audience of mature students in the Vatican. Trouble is, his lectures consist of imparting such gems as: ‘there are good angels and there are bad angels’. Now Father, I heard that in infant class. My incredulity stretched to breaking point that a lecturer delivering a serious talk on a deadly matter such as exorcism could impart such drivel to an audience most of whom already seemed to be experts in the field. Also, my companion in the cinema later remarked that Hinds’ accent (think: sonorous pulpit-speak) was ‘all over the place’.
‘What about Anthony Hopkins, my son?’
‘Ah now, Father. I’d be spoiling the ending if I told you what happened to him. His was a fine performance but suffice to say that I left the cinema thinking he’s in danger of being typecast. At one stage Fr Lucas (Hopkins) says to his young assistant Michael Kovak (O’Donoghue): ‘What do you expect in an exorcism – spinning heads and pea-soup?’. Well, Father, that’s exactly what the director (Mikael Hafstrom) gave us. Not spinning heads exactly, more like impossibly contorted limbs accompanied by overdone sound effects that consisted largely of creaky noises to mimic the sound of twisting bones.
‘That’s another sin I must tell you about, Father – the soundtrack. The music swelled when St Peter’s Basilica loomed on screen, which it did too often, inducing in me a feeling of nausea that a film could be so fawning. I also disliked the deep rumbling foretelling whenever anything evil was about to manifest itself. That soundtrack is a real mortaler, Father.’
‘Did you take pleasure in your sin, my son?’
‘No, Father. I failed to engage with any of the characters. The middle bit featuring a possessed young girl (Marta Gastini) wasn’t too bad, but the opening was slow, obvious, and unoriginal. The Italian street scenes were full of stereotypes (angry policemen trying to cope with chaotic traffic, mini-skirted girls on mopeds, etc). As for the ending, I don’t want to give it away, Father. I’m sure you and all the other priests can’t wait to see it.’
‘Are you sorry for your sin, my son?’
‘Yes, Father. Believe me, I’m very sorry for my profligacy.’
‘Very well. For your penance go see the latest Cecelia Ahern film.’
‘Oh no, Father, please – anything but that.’
2 Feb 15 2011: Two short stories scheduled for publication so far in 2011. “Key to the City” (a story about the demise of Dublin) is due in the DOOMOLOGY anthology from the Library of Fantasy and Science Fiction. “Sanctuary” (an eco-story set in the frozen north of Canada) is forthcoming in the next issue of Membra Disjecta.
1 Jan 31 2011: Posted this over on MySpace a few minutes ago under the heading ‘Bye Bye MySpace’: “I’ve had enough of this site. Every time I go in I’m assailed by unwanted ads and intrusive faces of pimple-faced wannabee pop stars. I’m snowed under by friend-requests from musicians and bands all trying to hawk their songs. What really gets me are the changes MySpace have enforced. Site stats on my blog contradict earlier stats and make no sense. Photo-folders are next to impossible to locate and, when found, are reduced to thumbnails. It’s all about upgrades now – time to move to a proper site as promised in the blog before Christmas.”