At the Belfast Book Festival

Yesterday I drove up to Belfast to read as part of the Belfast Book Festival.

The event was a celebration of Irish literary journals, two readers each from The Tangerine, Banshee, and myself and Annemarie Ní Churreáin representing The Stinging Fly, each got to read a sample of our work in the setting of the Crescent Art Centre.


Tangerine Belfast 2(my, ‘plugging the journal’ pose)


I read an extract from my story Lying on a Beach, which features in the Summer 2017 issue of The Stinging Fly.

I traveled up with my good friends Susan Tomaselli, the editor of gorse, and the poet and essayist Dimitra Xidous. There’s nothing like a good discussion about the importance of breakfast to make a car journey more enjoyable (it was actually much more fun, and interesting, than it sounds, but I’ll leave the explanation to others!)

It was a really enjoyable event, with a great crowd. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay on longer to enjoy the hospitality more.

Tangerine Belfast pic

(under the watchful gaze of Declan Meade, editor of The Stinging Fly)

At the gorse #8 Launch

Sitting alone in a room writing is one thing, having people read your work later can be nerve-wracking enough, but reading it out loud can be exhilarating and terrifying all in one.

At the recent launch of gorse #8 I was delighted to be asked to read part of my story, Cinq à Sept, and was full of confidence on the night, all the way up until two feet from the microphone. However, nerves or not I think I managed to get through it without cocking it all up, which is nice.


Gorse 8 Launch Picture


What’s more, there’s now a podcast of the readings on the night which you can listen to here (my own reading starts at about the 36 minute mark, but I strongly urge you to listen to the whole podcast, there was some really outstanding work on show that night, and I was humbled to be a part of it all)


My Short Story, Lying on a Beach, in The Stinging Fly

After trying for many years I’m delighted to have a short story ‘Lying on a beach’ published in the Summer 2017 edition of The Stinging Fly.

The journal itself is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and I’m really happy to have made the cut.

The journal is, as they say, available in all good bookshops, or through the journal website. I really hope as many of you as possible can pick up a copy of the journal and read my story, it’s one that really means a lot to me


Stinging Fly Cover - Summer 2017

Part in Dog-Ear

I came across an interesting online journal recently, Dog-Ear, which publishes in an unusual way.

They take short pieces, prose or poetry, and publish them online. Then, every three months or so, they pick their favourite pieces and publish them as a fold-up sheet, a bookmark, which is sold directly through their site, or included in other literary journals as they are sold. A really nice way of marking your page and having something to read at the same time.

Anyway, they very kindly accepted my piece of short fiction, Part, which is currently online, I won’t know for a few months whether it’ll make the physical insert, but fingers crossed.

Enjoy, and enjoy reading the other contributors too.


Me, Jean Rhys and Wide Sargasso Sea

Through one of those strange coincidences that make up life I recently retweeted a post from a Jean Rhys twitter account. This was spotted by one of the producers of The Book Show, on RTE Radio 1, and I was asked to participate in a piece they were putting together on Jean Rhys and her most famous novel, Wide Sargasso Sea.

It was really interesting to be a small part of the show, and if nothing else it’s nice to be referred to as ‘writer Colm O’Shea’ on the national airwaves.

You can listen here, the Jean Rhys segment begins at around the 26 minute part, though do listen to the full show.


Gorse #8

I’m delighted to have a short story ‘Cinq à Sept‘ published in the latest issue of gorse.

I was lucky enough to have a story in issue 2 so it’s really great to make the cut again.


Apart from my own efforts you REALLY should check out the new issue, it’s fantastic and contains some great pieces of work.

It should, as they say, be hitting all good bookshops in the very near future, but just in case you have trouble getting a copy you can always buy one via the gorse website, enjoy!!




I’ve spent the last year working on a short story collection, which I’ve now finished and will start submitting shortly. It makes a change from the novels I’ve tried so far and reflects the acceptance of a point I’ve come to with regard to my writing.

I thought I was a crime writer, or more to the point I thought I could write the kind of novels I’ve tried in, as has been called, a Hardboiled-Modernist style, submit them, have them be accepted, and published. Most of the rejections I’ve received for these efforts circle around the commercial possibilities of my work. Writing in any genre, especially in something like crime, the books have to have a commercial appeal, it’s too tough out there now for writers, publishers and booksellers to ignore that fact, and looking at what I’ve been trying I can appreciate that the commercial side of things is where my efforts to date have been falling down.

In parallel with my ‘crime writing’ I’ve been writing short stories, and have had some published, and have come to the realisation that they don’t represent a sideline while I was waiting for something else, or somewhere to practice writing, but are an integral part of what I want to write.

So, as I said, I spent the last twelve months working on a short story collection, which I’m very happy with.

I’ve also decide to stop trying to be published as a ‘crime’ writer, I just can’t make it work, and will instead attempt to be classified as a ‘literary’ writer. I know that both are just genres, and in an ideal world both titles would be redundant as all writing would be judged on its quality alone, but publishing, and especially modern publishing, requires a hook (or a scaffold) to hang each writer on, so this is the path I’ve chosen.

Funnily enough I don’t feel any different as a writer, and I haven’t made any conscious efforts to change what it is I actually write, but certainly when it comes to writing another novel I won’t be trying so hard to fit into a crime genre.

Incidentally I have an idea for a novel which does involve some of the tropes and characteristics of crime, specifically noir, fiction, but I’ll be coming at everything in a much more experimental manner, but more about that at another time.

I still know in my head exactly what sort of writer I am, and who it is who inspires me, and where I aim to go as a writer, and I feel it’s a lot easier to just hang it all under the name ‘literary’ to avoid having to qualify everything as I try to explain myself.

So for the moment I’m a short story writer, I’ll probably always be writing short stories, I really get a lot of pleasure out of them, even if they are bloody hard work, and I feel I can say exactly what it is I want to say in them. I also have my experimental novel to work on, which I’ve already started and is really exciting me, so while I may be a failed crime novelist I’m enthusiastic and eager for the words ahead, and anxious to see how it all works out (though no flipping ahead to see whodunit!!)


And yes, Bowie would be the obvious accompaniment here, but I thought I’d try this one instead.