Publishing Day at UL

 

Q&A Joseph O’Connor with Sarah Davis-Goff

On the 5th of December, a range of experienced publishers and agents visited the university to talk with the MA in Creative Writing program. This was an enjoyable end to the semester at UL.

The day kicked off in conversation with Alan Hayes, a successful independent publisher for Arlen House, Galway. Alan has published many authors such as UL’s Donal Ryan and Martin Dyar. Alan claims his journey into the publishing industry was a ‘fluke’ and all worked out by chance, as he developed his interest in the field after studying at NUI Galway. His main word of advice for the students was “sell your writing, not yourself“, as he emphasized the importance of the writing itself rather than publishing something for the sake of being noticed and seen. This was an important point that many often lose sight of nowadays, with bookshops promoting the biggest names and trends.

Editor and writer, Brian Langan, was in conversation with Donal Ryan. They both discussed the relationship they have as editor and writer, and the challenges they often face. They described this as a three-way relationship between writer, editor and the book. Langan explained how making edits and offering feedback can be quite challenging, so it’s important for the editor to always be passionate about the book. Both Ryan and Langan stressed the importance of keeping the audience/reader in mind when re-drafting a book.

 

Brian Langan

Marianne Gunn O’Connor is literary agent to writers such as Cecilia Ahern, Pat Mc Cabe, and Mike Mc Cormack. Marianne discussed the importance of failure in life, as one learns to succeed through their response to failure:

“Failure is the fuel, and success is the breaks.” 

If she sees something in a writer, she will stick with them. This was the case for Mike Mc Cormack who faced many obstacles and refusals when attempting to publish his work. Mc Cormack, whom was once described as a “disgracefully neglected writer“,  won the Dublin Literary prize and the Goldsmiths prize, for his novel Solar Bones. Marianne is “looking for a person, not a book” when choosing clients, as who she works with and their connection is important.

Closing the day, Sarah Davis Goff, from Tramp Press, was in discussion with Joseph O’Connor, head of the MA in Creative Writing program.  Tramp Press is an independent publishing agency run by Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen. Since being launched in 2014, they have published award winning authors, such as Mike Mc Cormack and Sarah Baume. She discussed the importance of the quality of writing when selecting a piece. Tramp is always looking for diversity and promoting gender equality. The Q&A was concluded with Sarah reading a piece from her upcoming novel, Last Ones Left Alive. 

 

Marianne Gunn O’Connor

 

 

 

 

 

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A reading with Danny Denton

“Write the story that you want to read”

As UL Frankenweek drew to a close on Halloween eve, we were lucky to be joined by upcoming Cork author, Danny Denton.

Frankenweek kicked off on Monday the 22nd of October and has offered great writing workshops, readings and screenings related to the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Denton read an extract from his new novel The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow. It has been described in a review by The Irish Times as “A grim dystopian Ireland that is all too believable”. The plot revolves around ‘The Kid in Yellow’, who stole the babba from ‘the Earlie King’. The novel is set in a post-digital future and could be viewed as an Ireland without limits; where all of the problems the country is facing such as homelessness and addiction are amplified beyond control.

Denton’s reading was followed by a discussion with UL writer in residence, Donal Ryan. Ryan pointed out the obvious presence of the rain throughout the entire novel and how it’s almost a character in itself. Denton spoke of his admiration for texts/films where it’s raining throughout, Blade Runner was one of the examples he referred to.

In discussion, Denton spoke of the challenges many writers face when redrafting and trying to write a story to please an audience. His main advice to the room was to “write the story that you want to read”, as that’s what he did after years of attempting to write something the public would love, illustrating how it’s impossible to please everyone.

He described writing as a “craftsmanship” and stressed the importance of a daily writing routine. Denton’s hard work paid off with this modern authentic novel that’s now shortlisted for an Irish Book Award.

You can click on this link to vote for the best books of the year and be in with a chance of winning a 100 euro book token : https://www.irishbookawards.irish/vote2018/

 

“How am I going to read this?”

ulysses[1]The words James Joyce and Ulysses typically fill most readers with a sense of dread and trepidation. Ulysses has gained an almost mythical status with most critics agreeing that it is one of the foremost literary texts in the English language. They base this lofty argument on the innovative way in which Joyce constructs his text. In addition, the standard of language, which Joyce uses throughout the book, sets it apart from most text. Despite a relatively simplistic plot line, Joyce masterfully constructs an interweaving text that highlights his subjects in new and innovative ways. In addition, Joyce inserts a myriad of textual references, which encompass centuries of various texts making it a truly multi-contextual and internationally timeless work. Apparently, James Joyce once said that his multitude of textual reference gave it a riddle like quality that would take critics centuries to unravel thus ensuring his immortality.

In many cases, Ulysses may seem daunting to college students whom their lectures require them to read. Often students will get to chapter three (Proteus) and give up as the effort of deciphering the text becomes too much. On the other hand, students who continue with the text despite its difficulty experience a phenomenal sense of achievement when they finish it. In many cases, students see it as a badge of honour having successfully read one of the most difficult texts in the English language. Equally, students and readers who finish the text often see their achievement as a badge of cultural capital placing them in a small and select cultural group that share a common interest.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Ulysses is a most difficult read and students often ask the question: “How can I successfully complete this book?” There is no one correct answer to this however, readers can utilise a series of qualities and strategies that can use to help them complete Ulysses. Patience is a virtue but in the case of Ulysses, it is a necessity for any reader who wishes to finish the book. The text is difficult and readers need to be patient in terms of completing it. Furthermore, understanding a text is a core objective for most readers however; in the case of Ulysses, most readers on initial reading will not fully understand the text. It is important for readers to be comfortable with this and instead focus on taking what they can from the text and this will certainly help them to finish the text. It is extremely wise for reader not to confuse the author with the text. The narrator in a text does not necessarily represent the author. However, most creative writers will draw on personal experiences, cultural and historical contexts in forming their narratives. It is reasonable to argue that James Joyce was no different in this regard. Therefore, readers who have an adequate knowledge of Joyce’s biography will have a better chance of understanding the text. Read! Read! Read! Certainly, a well-informed reader will have a much better chance of understanding Ulysses than a less well read individual. Because of Joyce’s myriad of textual allusions, a more sophisticated reader will be able to notice the multitude of references that Joyce makes throughout Ulysses. On a practical level, having a dictionary close to hand is useful when reading Ulysses as the reader can use it to look up the many difficult and unusual words that Joyce uses in his text. Finally, take time reading Ulysses. If the reader is under a time constraint, they will certainly struggle to complete the text. Instead, take plenty of breaks while reading it as the time away from the book will help to clear the readers head giving them a fresh perspective when they return to it.

Lastly, and most importantly, try to enjoy perhaps the greatest book in the English language and share in the tremendous sense of achievement that fellow readers garner from finishing Ulysses

~Pádraig Ó Loingsigh

Listening vs Reading: The Rise of Audiobooks

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In our house, we’re well-versed in the world of audiobooks as they saved our family holidays.

I love to read books (well, duh) but my husband doesn’t.  He just never really got into it – his boredom threshold falls around the size of the average newspaper article, which he reads in abundance.  Essentially, his digitally-trained brain can’t cope having to read 100,000 words before finding out ‘the point’.

My favourite thing to do on holiday is to find a beautiful view and a comfortable seat and settle down with a great book.  On our first holiday together I found myself unable to get past a single paragraph without being asked how it was going / did I see the kid with the ball / was I too hot.

And so we discovered many years ago that this was a problem we would have to overcome or I was going to drown him in his holiday beer.

The solution? Audiobooks.  I downloaded books I thought he would like (Wolf of Wall Street was a big hit, followed by biographies of Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs), charged up his Iphone and let him off

The only problem is that audiobooks are rather expensive.  Roughly €20-30 each, which is understandable when you consider the book’s value in itself, with added production and narration costs.  Enter Audible.com, which sounds rather convoluted but is in effect, a subscription service.  You pay a monthly fee and depending on which tier you’re on, you get at least one book a month.

The only downside for me is the lack of learning.  As I’ve barely a toe on the first rung of a writing career, I like to read great writing so that I can learn from it and hopefully imbue a tiny droplet of those writers’ talents into my own work.  I do feel that listening rather than reading impacts this, as I can’t fully appreciate the structure, the language, the skill.

I find I most value audiobooks when travelling.  I get terribly car-sick so have never been able to read in the car or on a bus.  Now, however, a journey to Dublin equals at least six or seven chapters.  And, when flying, they’re good to block out at least 90% of the ear-torture inflicted by the relentless purveyors of scratchcards, perfumes and bus tickets. Which is always a good thing.

So for now, I think I’ll stick to mixing it up, listening and reading. What about you, have you given audio-books a try?

~RM Kealy