Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Paperback Writer: Do Irish writers make a living?

These are tough times for publishing. It is a late but definite casualty of the recession, with falling sales, the steady rise of self-publishing and yet another crisis of identity in 'serious' literature. Emily Hourican asks if it is still possible to make a living as a writer

John Boyne, who is appearing at Mountains to Sea 2014 with David Mitchell on Friday, September 12th @ 8.30pm. 

'Anyone who was in London this summer, and saw posters for Eimear McBride's debut novel, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing plastered across the sides of buses, would have been forgiven for thinking this was the hot summer blockbuster and McBride the new EL James. A bonk-buster, perhaps; chick lit, certainly. In reality, McBride has been called Joycean, even Beckettian, by reviewers clearly struggling with conveying the substance of a book that has no formal plot. This is a work of 'serious' literature, with claims to rewriting the duties and scope of 'The Novel', but for promotional purposes, it's getting the Carrie Bradshaw treatment - the side of a bus. - See more at: http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-news/paperback-writer-do-irish-writers-make-a-living-30506317.html#sthash.XSQSVbwN.6UYOVv7k.dpuf

It's a bit bizarre alright, but then, these are angsty times for publishing - falling sales and profits, bulk discounting, the rise of self-publishing, even a crisis of identity and aspiration in fiction. The novel, Will Self intoned in May, is dead, "and this time it's for real". Fearful publishing companies are reluctant to take chances any more, instead they are casting around for a 'sure thing', something to halt the rot.
So, what is catching their eye? Well, there is the slightly manic crossing of lines at the moment - a kind of tarts and vicars party in which serious writers masquerade as genre writers. This is not entirely new - Graham Greene wrote what he called 'entertainments', books like The Third Man and This Gun For Hire, alongside his 'serious' novels, like The Power and the Glory - but it is increasing.' .... see the full article on the Irish Independent website here

Teddy Bear Sleepover at Mountains to Sea 2014 is Coming!!

Look for the Mountains to Sea Teddy Bear Sleepover 

in September in the brand new LexIcon library - 

Are the teddies ready?

Would your Teddy or animal friend like to take part in our very special Library Sleepover? Drop her/him off at the festival tent and she/he will be escorted to the library for lots of sleepover fun with other bears – Teddy Bear Story Time, Teddy Bear Tea Party and lots more. Follow your Teddy’s antics on our festival’s Facebook page  during the evening from 7pm until their bedtime at 8pm.
Teddy bears or soft toys welcome (Their owners will be sleeping at home!)
Venue: dlr LexIcon
Register: Saturday September 13th between 2pm and 4pm at the festival desk at dlr LexIcon.*
Collect your bear: Sunday September 14th between 2pm and 4pm (at the festival desk)**
Age: all ages welcome
Free - no booking required
** Please collect your Teddy Bears on time or they will worry!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Unsettling, audacious Martin Amis: The Zone of Interest

In last Saturdays Irish Times (16th August), Eileen Battersby celebrated the "rampaging talent" of Martin Amis and his new novel: 'The zone of interest'.

 'For the prose alone it will be received as one of his most accomplished performances'. Martin Amis will be in conversation with Sean Rocks on Wednesday August 27th @ 8pm at Mountains to Sea 2014. Tickets available from Mountains to Sea 2014 website:  http://www.mountainstosea.ie/2014-Events/martin-amis.html

Review: A brave, humane novel, set in a concentration camp, takes a hard look the atrocities of the second World War 

'A man admits to watching a woman and her two daughters, all three wearing white dresses and cream-coloured straw hats, as they proceed along a tree-lined avenue. The narrator keeps pace, describing the scene as if it were a painting, and sounds smitten: “Something happened at first sight. Lightning, thunder, cloudburst, sunshine, rainbow – the meteorology of first sight.”
Later he confides to an old friend that it had made him feel young again. “It was like love . . . I said like love. Don’t look so stricken.Like love. A feeling of inevitability. You know. Like the birth of a long and wonderful romance. Romantic love.”
It begins casually, two youngish men chatting, lamenting their slightly younger selves, mocking the slightly older superior who managed to marry a beauty, the narrator’s love object. The men could be sitting in a country pub. Instead they have been posted to a wartime concentration camp. Exactly which one it is becomes clear at the mention of Ilse Grese, an infamous guard at Auschwitz who was later hanged for her war crimes. And “Uncle Martin” is not Amis taking a walk-on part; it is a reference to Hitler’s private secretary,Martin Bormann.
As a writer Martin Amis has consistently been daring and original, shocking and funny, and at times profoundly moving. He is a natural stylist and at his best – as in Money(1984), The Information (1995) and House of Meetings (2006), and in the nonfiction of his essays and memoir – he is the finest of British writers, a divider of opinion. With his linguistic panache and wicked humour, his inspired feel for a phrase or an image, Amis is always exciting.
The famous son of a famous father, Amis junior soon outwrote Kingsley. Although the life and times, loves and teeth of Martin Amis have filled many column inches, his work is the real story. His new novel is moral and emotive, a minefield through which Amis moves with a lightness of touch and profound intent.
The great WG Sebald maintained of the inhuman atrocities carried out in eastern Europe between 1941 and 1945 that no serious person could ever think about anything else, and Amis, for whom evil has become a prevailing theme, has taken this to heart. How did it happen? How could it happen? Novelists try to explain because historians have failed..'....

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

An Afternoon with Lee Child! By Will Ryan 

Just bought my tickets to the Lee Child event at this years Mountains to Sea dlr Book festival!(About ten seconds after I received the marketing email!). I'm a huge Lee Child fan and it was picking up a copy of Echo Burning that brought me back to reading fiction after years away reading nothing but books on Quantum physics!

Lee Child
Lee Child Author of the Jack Reacher Series
Back when I was writing The Harder They Fall I listened to a lot of his interviews and in a sense it was his assertion that a book has to grow organically from its writer that allowed me to take my book in the directions it needed to go. There were times when I knew I wasn't following the "rules" of writing thrillers but to stick to what other people said was right would have damaged what I saw as the necessary arc for the story and the characters.

Really looking forward to the opportunity to hear him speak in person and maybe get a chance for a quick chat!

The rest of the festival programme is available here and includes lots of writing workshops for all genres. For those of you also into crime/thriller writing the workshops with Jane Casey are definitely worth a look.

The above post is by Will Ryan and was posted on his blog: http://willryanthrillers.blogspot.ie/ . Thanks Will for allowing us to repost. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Xiaolu Guo; I Am China
‘a book so piercingly urgent and relevant it is as if Guo has not so much published it as pressed it into your hand the very moment after writing the final sentence.’ (The Independent)

If you can’t decide which Book Festival events to come and see, here is something to wet your appetite from the press -- some glowing reviews of books featured in our programme.

Xiaolu Guo; I Am China ; ‘a book so piercingly urgent and relevant it is as if Guo has not so much published it as pressed it into your hand the very moment after writing the final sentence.’ (The Independent)

In 2010, the Chinese writer Liao Yiwu wrote an open letter to Angela Merkel, to express his deep disappointment that the Chinese authorities had prevented him from travelling to Germany to take part in a programme of literary events. In his letter, he imagines himself visiting Germany, but returning to China: "It is unimaginable," he wrote, "that a writer would be able to do anything once he has left the place of his mother tongue." 
  1. I Am China
  2. by Xiaolu Guo
  1. Tell us what you think:Star-rate and review this book
Liao is now in exile in Germany after escaping from China on foot in 2011, and perhaps he might find comfort in the examples of other Chinese writers who, despite having left the place of their mother tongue, remain engaged and prolific artists. Some of them, such as the novelist Ma Jian, continue to write in Chinese; others, such as Xiaolu Guo, who has lived in Britain since 2002, now write in English.
Just click on the link to read the full review: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/28/i-am-china-xiaolu-guo-review-novel

You can see Xiaolu Guo with Kamila Shamsie at Mountains to Sea Book Festival on Saturday, September 13th at 6.30pm, £10 (£8)

Friday, 1 August 2014



The programme and tickets for the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival 2014 are available on the festival website:  www.mountainstosea.ie. The  brochures will be available widely in libraries and bookshops in the coming weeks. Check out our Press Release on our Home Page to catch a flavour of what we have in store for you this year.

After a pre-festival reading by Martin Amis on Wednesday 27th August, the weekend of 11th-14th September is packed with over 40 events for you to enjoy. Lynn Barber, Lee Child, Anthony Cronin, Kamila Shamsie, David Mitchell, Michael Symmons Roberts, Eoin Colfer, Sinéad Morrissey, Xiaolu Guo, Vona Groake and Yasmeen Ismail are just some of the many authors, poets and illustrators joining us in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown this year. And we know you'll be intrigued by the Poetry Shed! We look forward to seeing you at the festival and sharing our new venues with you.


Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is delighted to announce this year's official shortlist for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. This coveted award will be presented at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival on Saturday 13th September 2014 at dlr LexIcon, the new central library and cultural centre in Dún Laoghaire.

The shortlisted poets are: Tara Bergin This is Yarrow(Carcanet), Nick Laird Go Giants (Faber & Faber), Sinéad Morrissey Parallex (Carcanet), Conor O'Callaghan The Sun King (Gallery Press) and Billy Ramsell The Architect's Dream of Winter (Dedalus Press). Our judges for this year's award are Katie Donovan, Nessa O'Mahony and Chris Morash. The Award is made possible by the generous support of The Irish Times.


Congratulations also to all the poets shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Poetry Award. They are: Tara Bergin This is Yarrow (Carcanet), Paula CunninghamHeimlich's Manoeuvre(Smith/Doorstop), Martin Dyar Maiden Names (Arlen House), Nicki GriffinUnbelonging (Salmon Poetry) and Jim Maguire Music Field (Poetry Salzburg).

The Shine/Strong Award is presented annually to the author of the best first collection of poems published by an Irish poet in the previous year. The Shine/Strong Award is presented in memory of Rupert and Eithne Strong and is made possible by the generous support of Shine, the national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of all those affected by mental ill health. The Award will be presented at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival on Sunday 14th September 2014. Our judge for this year's award is Mary Shine Thompson.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival 11-14th September 2014

Online Booking now open for

Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival

11-14th September 2014


Fine Writing      Fiction      Poetry      Workshops      AND Picnics!! 

Martin Amis / Lynn Barber / John Boyne / Lee Child / Eoin Colfer / Anthony Cronin / Sinéad Crowley / Vona Groarke / John Kelly / Paul Lynch / David Mitchell / Sinéad Morrissey / David Park / Don Paterson / Kamila Shamsie
These are a selection of authors appearing in the brilliant line up at this year’s Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival incorporating the dlr Poetry Now International Poetry Festival.
Bert Wright, the primary curator of this year’s festival writes,
‘Book Festivals remind us that words emanate from a specific human source, a consciousness, an intellect that is right there in front of us. We see and hear them not through a digital scrim but up close and personal and both parties are immeasurably enriched in the process’.
The 1st event will be a special pre-festival reading & public interview with Martin Amis on Wednesday 27th August. The festival weekend includes over 40 events running over 3 nights.
Friday 12th September includes poetry from Vona Groarke & Don Paterson as well as a cabaret event with dlr Writer in Residence Colm Keegan; Murderous Maths with Kjartan Poskitt; a teenage Dylan Thomas-themed workshop (including a visit to THE POETRY SHED) and a stellar reading with John Boyne and Man Booker Prize Longlisted David Mitchell.
Saturday 12th September has workshops on poetry with Don Paterson and on writing with Jane CaseyAnna Carey & Patrick Freyne plus Irish songs and film clips with students from TG Lurgan. Readings include John Kelly & Paul LynchKamila Shamsie & Xiaolu Guo and a public interview with Lynn Barber. Family events include THE DAHL FACTOR, a superhero comic session with illustrator Alan Nolan AND the magical Great Teddy Bear Library Sleepover on Saturday night. THE IRISH TIMES POETRY NOW AWARD will also be presented that day and poet Michael Symmons Roberts makes his Irish debut shortly afterwards. Saturday’s finale event will be the LETTERS LIVE event in the Pavilion theatre where an array of actors, authors and musicians, will be reading ‘correspondence deserving of a wider audience’.
Workshops on Sunday 14th September include fiction with Mia Gallagher, a Haiku-writing walk with Anatoly Kudryavitsky and a masterclass on illustration with picture book artist Yasmeen Ismail. For the family, there’s a Where’s Wally Library Hunt; 2 Picture Book Picnics and a fun double Laureate event with Eoin Colfer & Aneirín Karadog. The SHINE/STRONG POETRY AWARD READING takes place, David Park & Sinéad Morrisey chat about poetry and it’s a big night for Crime Fiction fans! Liz NugentJane CaseyKaren PerrySinéad Crowley & Lee Child will all be reading and TV fans get to meet screenwriters Jed Mercurio and Michael Hirst! For music and poetry fans, we round up a perfect weekend with Anthony Cronin reading his epic RMS Titanic poem with a thrilling music score, specially created and performed by Donal Lunny.