I do sessions to promote my books – as well as a few workshops and residencies – throughout the year, but it normally doesn’t get too mad except for round October, when Ireland is overrun by the Children’s Book Festival. Lately though, I’ve taken on a lot of sessions, and with World Book Day (or at least the one we celebrate in Ireland and the UK) just gone past, it’s been a bit mental.
I think the last visit I’d mentioned in a blog was the Royal School in Dungannon in December, and then finishing up before Christmas with Story Spark for the Ark in Temple Bar. I tried to keep January as clear as I could, so I’d get some work done, but still managed to start a residency in Bessbrook, near Newry and an online writing course for Creative Writing Ink.
February was still pretty quiet. I started another residency in Clonee in Meath, visited St Wolstan’s Community School in Celbridge, and Sperrin Integrated College in Magherafelt, Co. Derry. With Poetry Ireland running their ‘Border Crossings’ project with the Northern Ireland Arts Council, I’ve started to get a lot of requests from schools in Northern Ireland. That’s a good thing, as the bureaucracy involved in doing sessions in Northern Ireland can get a bit much, and I had been put off going up there much. I was once registered as an employee and fired on the same day (including receiving a P45) just so I could do two sessions in a library up the north. An employment tribunal then contacted me to see if I wanted to appeal my dismissal. I’m not kidding.
With the Border Crossings Scheme, I only have to deal with Poetry Ireland’s paperwork, and that’s pretty minimal. For anyone who doesn’t know, PI have been running the Writers-in-Schools Scheme in Ireland for decades, and it’s hugely successful.
Speaking of borders – and stupid procedures – here’s a picture I took when I was out and about in February. Your eyes do not deceive you. It is indeed a parking space with a kerb around it. I can think of no better illustration of Ireland’s approach to planning building projects. Perhaps this space was reserved for four-wheel-drives.
Things really kicked off in March, with Tallaght Library for World Book Day, a session in the National Library for the Dublin Book Festival and a short talk and drawing for the ceremony to celebrate the winner of the O’Brien Press’s Design-a-Book-Cover Competition. The aim of the competition was to produce a new cover for Michael Scott’s ‘October Moon’. Congrats to all the runners-up on their excellent work, but particularly to the winner, Adina McNulty from Ballina. Her design is now the cover for the new edition of the book.
Then I attended the Phoenix Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention in Dublin, before hauling my arse over to London to do two days of sessions for the Irish Literary Festival there, held by the Irish Cultural Centre. While I was there, I also did a visit the following day to Bexleyheath school, in association with Random House and WH Smith.
Last week, I took part in a day of Speculative Fiction workshops for the Big Smoke Writing Factory and visited St Michael’s College on Ailesbury Road. And that brings me just about up to date on the sessions. I took a break over the long weekend, although I spent much of St Patrick’s day in the car (just for the sheer novelty of driving). We attended two parades. Just before one, our two youngest kids fell asleep and I kept driving so that our budding Liverpool striker could take his place in the parade with his GAA club, and Maedhbh could look on proudly, while soaking up the atmosphere.
Small town parades may lack the glamour and splendour of Dublin’s, but they have their own unique character.
Yes, that is a marching accordion band. One of the best in the country, apparently. And on that note, I’m going to sign off. Talk to you again soon.