The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Sue Guiney (fellow writer published by Ward Wood) I’m delighted to be part of a network of bloggers reaching out to new readers, discussing their work. It’s called The Next Big Thing.  Each writer introduces other writers and also talks about what they are working on. In Sue’s  Next Big Thing Blog, she tells us about her new novel which, like her last wonderful offering, is set in Cambodia. You can also check out Sue’s numerous publications which include poetry, plays and fiction here

For my Next Big Thing,  I’d like to write a note on inspiration. When Sue asked me if I would be interested in participating, I thought about what I was working on. As usual, I have a number of projects on the go. There are short stories, novels and even a novella. But what, I asked myself, is my next big thing. I thought back to how hard I worked on my next novel, set in Mexico, over the summer months. I thought about how I’ve been working on short stories.

And then I remembered a crucial moment. A moment when inspiration, or rather, compulsion struck. Here’s the picture that captures it:

I was in Northern Spain on a holiday with my family, sans PC, just with a trusty notebook and pen. (Actually, this notebook is in The KRF:2 Artist Notebook Project and was donated to Kildare County Council Arts Service to become part of a permanent touring collection, but I digress).

I was relaxing – the rest of the family had gone off exploring rock pools – and alternating between doodling in the said notebook and staring at the cliffs. And it struck me, the history in those cliffs. How history seeps from the very ground we walk on. I wanted to write about it.

  • My Next Big Thing: A literary fiction novel set in Spain.
  • What’s the working title? I’ve several working titles right now so I’ll refrain from giving it one working title. 
  • Where did the idea come from for the book? Lying on a beach in Northern Spain, looking at cliffs where Civil War mass executions had taken place. (See above for photo and explanation)
  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Without hesitation (and with a smile on my face), Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz.
  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? The land around us holds the remnants of war and love.
  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Published by my publishers, all going well.
  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’m working on it!
  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s a political love story about how war and love never quite die.

I now pass The Next Big Thing baton to Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Nuala’s latest publication is a wonderful short story collection Mother America (New Island). If you haven’t read it, go buy it! Nuala’s novel You will be read by Martina Carroll in a repeat broadcast of The Book on One on week commencing 26th November 2012 on RTE radio 1. Nuala will be talking about her novel Highland, set between Dublin and the Scottish Highlands on her blog on 28th November.


Dublin Launch of Happiness…

Thanks to all who came to the Irish Writers’ Centre on Wednesday 12 September 2012 to celebrate the Dublin launch of Happiness Comes from Nowhere.

Happiness Comes from Nowhere

As a writer, the lead up to the launch (or in this case the first launch) of a book is always filled with a mixture of extreme happiness and dread:

  • the fear of small audiences,
  • the fear of stage fright,
  • the worry that the pieces you’ve selected to read won’t quite gel,
  • child-like excitement at the public release of something you’ve worked so hard on
  • the sense of achievement.
Noel Duffy and Jane Clarke
Talking about Happiness

On the day itself, I was surprised at the lack of nerves – the day before had been filled with them! –  and was really overwhelmed by how much I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Everything flowed of its own accord.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir at the podium

It was wonderful with a brilliant atmosphere, great chat and that nostalgia of eating crisps and drinking red lemonade. And the celebratory feel popping a bottle of champagne, drinking of fine wine with friends, new and old and talk.

Fine wine, fine chat

And talk of writing, about writing and reading, reading reading. Happiness, I feel, does indeed come from nowhere.

Happiness and Chocolates

With thanks to Ward Wood Publishing, Noel Duffy for the wonderful framing of the evening in his introductions and rounding off, to Nuala Ni Chonchuir for her very generous words about my writing and to The Irish Writers’ Centre for hosting me and my book!

Reading from Happiness Comes from Nowhere

Thanks to Astur Photography, a further selection of photographs can be viewed on my website.

Interview with Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Today, Nuala Ní Chonchúir interviews me on her fabulously named blog Women Rule Writer. Nuala has previously critically reviewed Happiness Comes from Nowhere stating that

In Shauna Gilligan’s unsettling novel-in-stories, Dirk has troubles that his mother Mary may not be able to right, much as she tries. Gilligan writes intimately of one mother’s possessiveness, devotion and ambition for her son. Rich with insight, this is a book that informs as much as it haunts. As a début it is a very fine piece of work.’

In her interview with me she asks, among other things

  • who my favourite female writers are (it’s so hard to narrow down the list…!)
  • what short stories I would like to see featured on the Irish Leaving Certificate examination (this really got me thinking!)
  • fitting writing in with motherhood and the day job.

Have a read of the interview and leave comments here.

Nuala will be launching Happiness Comes from Nowhere at 6.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin on 12 September.

Nuala’s writing has been critically acclaimed and won numerous awards. Her latest collection of short stories is Mother America (New Island, 2012) and her most recent poetry collection is The Juno Charm (Salmon Poetry, 2011).