My short-listed short story The Last Time I Saw Valerie was broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on July 31st as part of their Francis MacManus season. If you like fiction and tales of toxic female friendships born out of necessity rather than choice, you can listen back here. Big ‘thank you’ to actress Aileen Mythen for bringing the story to life so beautifully.
Do you ever feel ‘not good enough’, despite your accomplishments, life experience and all the other evidence to the contrary? Imposter syndrome – the agonizing, often irrational sense that you are a fraud, destined to be found out – is a very real phenomenon. Disproportionately affecting successful women, imposter syndrome piles more tension into already stressful lives. In the current edition of Irish Country Magazine I write about the dreaded imposter and what you can do to ensure you wriggle out of its grip or better still, avoid it altogether. You can read the opening of the article here.
July 20th marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of Molly Keane, one of the sharpest, funniest novelists Ireland ever produced. Born into an Anglo-Irish family, Keane became a chronicler of the declining fortunes of her class, first under the pseudonym ‘M.J. Farrell’ , then in later life under her own name, with the publication of the wildly successful Good Behaviour. A critical and commercial smash, Good Behaviour lost out on the 1981 Booker Prize, which went to Salman Rushdie for Midnight’s Children. Keane was undoubtedly a ‘big house’ writer, using the metaphor of crumbling mansions as a symbol of her class’s demise, but she also waded into the complexities of the relationships – sexual and otherwise – of the families who lived in these lavish homes. Her humour is acerbic and savagely funny. She wields it as a device of entertainment and social commentary to exceptional effect. It was a pleasure to chat about Molly’s life and times on Arena to celebrate her birthday. You can listen back here and learn more about Molly’s life and writing here.
Psychopaths, wha? You couldn’t be up to them. To be honest, I love the darker side of popular culture. Thankfully for sickos like me, the past few years have produced a bumper crop of psychopathic characters that can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with Hannibal Lecter and his fava beans. RTÉ’s Arena recently did a feature on psychopaths in fiction, which I contributed to. Narrowing down my list of ‘favourite’ psychopaths was tricky but I got there. It included Frank Underwood (House of Cards) Vee Parker (series two, Orange is the New Black) and Amy Dunne from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl*. From an Irish perspective, I highly recommend Liz Nugent’s brilliant Unravelling Oliver as the Oliver in question is a rotter as Roald Dahl would say. You can listen back to the chat here.
*Every time I see a new still etc. from the Gone Girl film I pray to Gods I don’t believe in that they will do the book justice. I’m probably asking too much but I live in hope.
Ask most writers why they write and they’ll tell you they have little choice in the matter. It is an urge, a compulsion, to filter life through words, finding new ways to express things that often feel beyond language. If, along the way, you pick up a notice or two for your literary endeavors, all to the good. I always need reminding my writing may not be the worst in the world and to that end, I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for the 2014 Francis MacManus Award. The full short list and dates of broadcast (oh yes, broadcast) are listed on RTÉ Radio One’s website. My thanks to this year’s judges Christine Dwyer Hickey, Julie Parsons and Eoin Purcell, and big congrats to my fellow nominees. Well feckin’ done.