A literary journey
Nostalgic Irish prose
Irish culture & folklore
Ulster-Scots short stories
Libraries NI and Women Aloud NI are both at the fore of an effort to amplify female voices in fiction in Northern Ireland.
I have spent a year reading works from Northern Ireland authors, both male and female. The quality of literature in this country is high, yet local authors, particularly women, struggle to get their work published. The feedback from mainland Britain is often that the books are too Irish. The feedback from the Republic of Ireland is often that the books are too northern.
Once published, accessing shelf space among bestselling authors in bookshops is also problematic.
Libraries NI has gone the extra mile to ensure that local books can be seen by the public.
Why not pop into your local library this weekend and ask for something local. The three books that were selected for the Emerging authors events are available in Newtonbreda, Banbridge and Larne libraries. They can also be ordered from any other library in Northern Ireland. Here's a little bit more about each of the books for those who missed the Emerging author events.
Lesley Allen and The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir
This is a thought-provoking read. At the 60% mark and at 3.00am, I stopped reading my first chunk of the story and crawled into bed. I couldn’t sleep, though. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about Biddy Weir!
The voice of the narrator in The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is compelling, omniscient and wise, and it plucks you from reality and transports you to a dark world where one girl's experience of bullying has harrowing consequences.
At the Libraries NI Emerging Authors event, Lesley Allen told us another tale; that of her her journey to publishing. Let’s just say that Biddy, who was there on Lesley’s shoulder through the tricky parts of the publishing journey, pulled through for Lesley in the end. And only a powerful character can do that!
I would recommend that you borrow this one from your local library and find a Saturday or Sunday or sick day when you can curl up in bed and read it all in one sitting.
Biddy Weir will stay with you for a while.
Helen Nicholl and The Traveller’s Guide to Love
Second-hand books, Ulster’s landscape and the search for love are the ingredients of this delightful novel. The protagonist, Johanna, speaks directly to the reader in an autobiographical manner that is witty and entertaining.
Johanna is feisty, yet emotional; pouring water over her scoundrel of an ex-husband one minute and drifting off into fantasies of love (and Ulster’s antiquities) the next: “When love strikes you down, the fire burns just as sweetly whether you are seventeen or seventy.”
Helen Nicholl, who once swapped violence in Apartheid South Africa for violence in Northern Ireland, says she has been emerging as an author for many years and that she embarked on this love story for some light relief after writing something a little more serious.
I would recommend that you pull up a seat in the library and start reading there and then. You’ll have The Traveller’s Guide to Love read by closing time. And make sure you’ve something to quench your thirst when you get home. All that wit, wine and wet weather will make you thirsty!
Angeline King and Snugville Street
It would be too strange for me to say good things about Snugville Street, so I'll let its place in the Emerging authors display do the talking.
(Alternatively, click on the Irish Times review to learn more.)
As for library visits, I should warn you that my aunt Mandy said that she could have done with some window wipers for her glasses when reading Snugville Street. Have a wee microfibre cloth at hand just in case you decide to read it in the library!
And don't forget that A Belfast Tale is the prequel to Snugville Street.
Thank you to Libraries NI for having us. It was a real pleasure to be part of this and an honour to be considered an emerging author!
82 Waterloo Road
The Teacher Voice
The Last Day of Summer Scheme
Uniquely Girls' Brigade
The Children of Latharna
The Band Stick
The Bully up the Brae
A dander around Larne
History & folklore
The Protestant in Irish Fiction.
The Protestant in Irish fiction - the novels.
Ulster-Scots in Irish Fiction
The reality of being an author.
Learning the Irish Language.
John Hewitt Summer School