A Sense of Place
I was born in County Tyrone in the mid 70s and grew up during the Troubles just miles from the border between the ‘Free State’ and the ‘United Kingdom’. The border between these territories dominated all our lives. In the late 1960s, 19 roads criss-crossed Donegal and Tyrone in our local area. By the 1970s, just one ‘official’ road was left usable after the British Army blew up and barricaded the ‘unapproved’ roads and bridges. This campaign dramatically impacted communities on both sides of the border throughout my childhood and teens. In my writing I like to explore the big questions that matter about local borders, personal, national and global identity.
Short stories were my first love and I’ve written almost a rosary’s worth of stories, of which a decade forms the core of a collection. My first novel is set in a small town on the border, and explores the post-ceasefire paralysis crippling the local residents. My second novel (in progress) examines the impact of the ceasefire on the workers in a shirt factory in the twilight of the Northern Irish textile manufacturing industry.
I won several national awards for young writers and had my work published in Irish, UK and US anthologies and magazines (including Mslexia, The Stinging Fly, Cyphers, and QWF). I’ve been shortlisted in many writing competitions, and won the Orange/NW Short Story Award. I participated in the inaugural xBorders programme for emerging Irish Writers and I’m a Novel Fair 2019 finalist.
I’ve read voraciously since conquering Dick and Dora 40 years ago. My Kindle history contains Sayaka Murata, Sol Stein, Marcel Proust, Ursula LeGuin, Ernest Hemingway Rachel Cusk, Jenny Fagan, John McGahern, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Kate Atkinson, Seamus Heaney, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, Lauren Groff, Sylvia Plath, Jonathan Franzen, Sara Baume, Suzanne Collins, Elena Ferrante, Philipp Meyer, Eimear McBride, Paul Harding, Cynthia Bond, Meg Wolitzer, Aravind Adiga, Andrew Sean Greer, Robert MacLiam Wilson, Stieg Larrson, Sheryl Sandberg, John Steinbeck, Thomas Pynchon, Gillian Flynn, JK Rowling, Alice Sebold and more. I love to hate Knausgaard. And wish Caitlin Moran had stopped writing after How to Be a Woman. Miaow.
Ask me about
That time I met Ted Hughes.