Friday, March 20, 2015

By The Light of Four Moons

Some news! I will be launching John MacKenna's new poetry collection By the Light of Four Moons published by the ever exciting Doire Press. So come along to Carlow Town Library, this Sat night, March 21st, at 7.30 pm. Everyone is very welcome - there will be readings from the book and refreshments.

Winner of the Hennessy Literary Award, the Irish Times Fiction Award and the Cecil Day-Lewis Award, John is a brilliant novelist, playwright, short story writer and poet, and this collection is really something to look forward to.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Arkyne, A Vampire Tale

Caroline Farrell has just published her first novel Arkyne, an atmospheric gothic vampire tale set on the island of Inis Mor. I'm really delighted that Caroline popped over to answer a few questions...

1. You've set your story on Inis Mor, can you tell us why? Inis Mor is a spiritual place, and Dun Aonghusa is particularly exhilarating. I remember the first time I visited the cliffs, the wind was blasting and swirling with such power, it could have literally swept me off my feet. There is an 'other worldly' quality to the landscape. If magic exists, as I am inclined to believe, it is there in abundance.I didn't write any of ARKYNE while on the island, but the place definitely inspired me to develop it further.I had these characters hanging around in my head, and they settled well to that beautiful, haunting environment.

2. Who is your own favourite writer and why?I don't have one particular favourite,there are so many amazing talents out there. I was influenced by Anne Rice - would you ever have guessed that? -and I like Susan Hill, Alice Hoffman, Neil Gaiman and of course, Stephen King. I like a good mysterychiller, told with some natural magic, the very human kind - so I take inspiration from the aforementioned, and aren't we always told to write what we want to read?

Author Caroline Farrell
3. You wrote your book in a (relatively) unusual way by releasing it bit by bit, can you tell us why, and how you found that experience?I tend to break the traditional rules when it comes to creative stuff anyway. I take my writing very seriously, though I am not precious about it. Why not write online and interact with readers? It worked for me because (a) it helped me to set personal deadlines, and (b) I received honest feedback from readers who liked the genre, but also from writer friends who wouldn't normally touch the genre with a barge pole! I knew I would get feedback that was going to be balanced and truthful, and that was immeasurable in helping me finish it.

Can we have an excerpt?! Very difficult to pick a favourite, but since I have such a grá for the character of Henri, I’ll share my description of him…

Inside the château, amid sumptuous though somewhat decaying antique splendour, Henri de Rais sat by an open fireplace, engrossed in the pages of a small, dense volume on his lap, an ancient French Grimoire, bound in calf-leather and gold-leaf.

Coco’s father was a beautiful man, far more youthful looking than his forty-three years. And yet, to look into his dark eyes was to see wisdom of a very old soul, and heartache, so profound that the beholder might shudder with sadness. With unruly hair that fell across his serious expression, he carried on reading, his eye drawn to an incantation…

And thrice I hear thee, dark-winged harvester
Eater of souls
With thine hollow caw of malaise

…and so caught up between the words, his brow furrowed, that even as his pretty sister-in-law, Anna, entered the room carrying a tray laden with coffee and biscuits, Henri did not tear his gaze away from the page before him.

4. You’re also a film maker Caroline, can you tell me a little about that?A very different style of storytelling, but works for me.My stories generally demand their own medium of expression, so I'll know pretty early on whether they will develop as screenplays or novels, though occasionally, they become both, as was the case with ARKYNE.I've written and co-produced two short films so far, ADAM,2013 and IN RIBBONS, 2014. Film is primarily a visually driven, collaborative venture, whereas, writing a novel is a solitary business.I really don't prefer one over the other, and it's lovely to move between the two. Producing takes a lot of energy, from the physical to the intellectual and everything in between. There are a lot of managementand problem-solving skills that need to be tapped into, and it is imperative that you mind your most vital resource, the people who help you to make your film.I project-manage all the time through my day job, so I don't find any aspect of it particularly stressful. And there is nothing as satisfying as seeing your work on the big screen, so even the tough days are worth it.

5. What’s next for you?Later this year,through my own business Ninnyhammer Productions,I will direct my third short film, HUSHAWAY.I also have a number of feature scripts that I should really start pushing out there. In terms of novel writing, I am constantly working on something, mostly supernatural stories. The success, or not, of ARKYNE will determine what I put out next, but I also have a 'Lady Killer' drama that I have long had a love affair with, which is already in feature script format, so there is a possibility that I might jump genres and finish that one first. Time will tell - and I just wish I had more of it.

Thanks Caroline, you can find out more at... Caroline’s Blog: OR  Facebook Page:

And you can buy the book HERE

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Short Story Prize

The Bristol Short Story Prize is open for entries, all the lovely rules are here

Max Word length is 4,000 words.
Entry fee is £8 per story.
Closing date: 30 April 2015.

Prizes....1st £1000 plus £150 Waterstone's gift card
2nd £700 plus £100 Waterstone's gift card
3rd £400 plus £100 Waterstone's gift card
17 further prizes of £100 for shortlisted writers.
All 20 stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 8.

Nice to see a competition with a max word length longer than the usual 2,000. Good luck if you enter, and don't forget the People College Competition, click here for more about that... the deadline is february 28th, I'm judging and really looking forward to reading the short stories...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Large Print Edition 'The Herbalist'

Came across this on the Internet a few weeks ago. A large print edition of my novel The Herbalist. It's quite a shock to see the cover, but I like it a lot. So, the book is available in large print, it seems :) 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

People's College Short Story Competition

The People's College Short Story Competition is open for submissions and I'm delighted to be judging the entries. Here's what they have to say......

'Stories can be on any topic topic up to a limit of 2,500 words, typed 1.5 or double spaced on A4 paper, single-sided, with numbered pages securely fastened. There is no limit to the number of entries submitted.

1st prize €1,000, 2nd prize €750, 3rd prize €500

Closing date February 28 2015

Judge: award-winning author Niamh Boyce

A short list will be published on the People’s College website in April 2015 and the winners will be announced at an event in the Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, in May/June 2015. Winning stories will be published on the website and the first prize winner will also be published in our 2015 newsletter. Please submit your stories to

Entry fee per story €10

Stories will be judged anonymously. Entrant’s name should not appear anywhere on the story. Contact details should only appear on a separate entry form, available online or from the competition flyer.

Stories can be emailed to under subject heading ‘Short Story competition’ or can be sent by post to The People’s College, 31 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.'

For more details, or to enter clickity click HERE

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Here's a nice opportunity for short story writers and poets. 

Dundalk FM100 is open for submission, they are looking for original short stories and poems for their programme, 'The Creative Flow'. Send...
Short stories (between 1500/1800 words) typed in double space
Poetry submissions (between 3  & 5 poems.) 

The authors will get to read their work, and should be available for interview during the programme. 
Send submissions to or hand a hard copy into the station reception.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Croi Anu

Belated Happy New Year! Hope your writing resolutions are going well, if you need a kickstart, here's a date for your creative diaries :)

On Sat 7th of February I'll be facilitating a workshop in Croi Anu, Moone, Co Kildare from 2 - 5pm. Its the only workshop I'll be teaching in the forseeable future (too much of my own writing to get through) so I'm really looking forward to it.

The session is suitable for all kinds of writers, from complete beginners to those already working on novels, or short stories. All you need to bring is a pen and notebook, and a snack to keep you going. Tea and coffee are provided. Places are limited. There are more details on Croi Anu's Website

For anyone with work ready to send out, here's a few links of interest...
A great post from poet Jo Bell's Blog on submitting to literary journals, ...
If your looking for ideas on where to submit - there's also Duotrope

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Longlisted for The IMPAC

The Longlist for the 2015 International IMPAC Literary award has been announced...142 books on the longlist were nominated by libraries in 114 cities and 39 countries worldwide. 49 titles on the longlist are books in translation, spanning 16 languages and 29 are first novels. in this, the 20th year of the award we are delighted that five Irish books have made the longlist... (And my novel The Herbalist is one of them!)
Mary Morrissy, Donal Ryan and myself
The Irish authors long listed are

* The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce, nominated by Galway County Library, Ireland.
* The Guts by Roddy Doyle, nominated by Liverpool City Libraries, UK.
* TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, nominated by Halifax Public Libraries, Canada; Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland; Waterford City & County Libraries, Ireland; Liverpool City Libraries, UK; New Hampshire State Libraries, Concord, USA; The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, USA.
* The Rising of Bella Casey by Mary Morrissy, nominated by Cork City Libraries and Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland.
* The Thing About December by Donal Ryan, nominated by Limerick City Library, Ireland.

Well done to all the nominees, it's a great end to 2014 for me, a big thank you Galway County libraries for the nomination! There were 37 American novels, 9 Canadian, 9 Australian, 4 from New Zealand and 19 Uk novels nominated this year. And if you want ideas for books to buy this Christmas- the longlist, (which is very long) can be read HERE

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Writing the balance

A submission opportunity for female writers - This information is from writer Paul Mc Veighs Blog - 'In the last few months we've published some brilliant books, including Katy Brand's first novel Brenda Monk is Funny, Julie Burchill's Unchosen and Salena Godden's memoir Springfield Road. But of all the books we've published to date, just one third come from female authors. We know we're not alone in this and research has shown this gender imbalance is widespread across the publishing industry:

Women are over 50 per cent less likely to submit their work for publication than men, according to a survey by Mslexia. The VIDA count cites major journals and literary magazines where women make up a quarter or less of the writers published. The Guardian reports fewer female authors reviewed in Britain's major books sections. That's why we've launched Women in Print - to publish interesting, challenging female authors in larger numbers than before.

This month we're launching four exciting new projects from female authors and there's more to come so stay tuned for updates. At Unbound you choose which books get written - discover our latest authors and decide which ones you want to see in print. As part of Women in Print we're looking for bold new ideas for fiction and non-fiction books. If you're a woman with a manuscript (or a book idea) we want to hear from you. Throughout November we'll be gathering new submissions from female authors and the best three will appear on our site in the New Year. Submit an idea, pledge your support and spread the word.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Some Poems, some Harry Clarke...

Happy Monday :)

'I was Swallowed by a Harry Clarke Window' and other poems of mine have just been published on Poethead. The Harry Clarke poem was inspired by a particular window in Kieran's College, Kilkenny and literally written on the spot as I gawped in awe... The poem was originally three pages long  and I edited it down, and down, to a pretty short poem.You can check it out here.

Poethead is a great site run by poet Chris Murray, 
who also curates an index of Contemporary Irish Women Poets.

I love Harry Clarke's glass work, photos never ever ever do it justice. The panel above is a section from The Eve of Saint Agnes inspired by the Keats poem. It can be seen in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. He also illustrated Perraults Fairy tales, Faust, and Poe's tales....


OK, back to the writing dungeon.... :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creative Writing Workshop in Moone

I'm facilitating a creative writing workshop in Croi Anu Creative Centre, Moone, Co Kildare on Saturday 8th November. From 2.30 - 6pm. ( 30 euro per person) The workshop is filling up quickly but there are still some places left. The theme for the workshop is renewal, so we'll be rustling up some inspiration to sustain your writing during the winter months. Suitable for anyone writing or interested in writing.You can book by phoning 0851376271 or emailing niamhmboyce(at)eircom(dot)net

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

24 Hours for Gaza

Ever think that clicking like and share just isn't enough?

Here's a chance to do a bit more, and have fun at the same time. I'm offering two writing workshops in Dublin this coming Sunday to help raise some funds for '24 Hours for Gaza' - there are many other artists, writers and photographers involved - all offering exciting workshops. Both adults and children are very welcome.

It will be a great weekend of art, music, readings, workshops in Stoneybatter Guild,and all for a very good cause. There will be a donation/entrance fee of only €10 per head. All proceeds to help John Cutliffe’s efforts to get supplies/aid to those most in need as a result of the crisis in Gaza.

This will be my last blogpost for a while, I'm entering into my own back to school phase  - with the second draft of a novel to complete by November I need every spare second for my writing.  So off to hermit ville for a while, see you on the other side :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Creative Writing Workshop

I'm teaching a Creative Writing Workshop this November 
in Croi Anu Creative Centre in Moone, Co Kildare. 

Expect an afternoon full of writing - I'll be focusing on the theme of renewal, renewal of our inspiration, our energy and our delight in writing. The workshop is open to beginners, middlers or old hands...all you need is a notebook and a pen. Croi Anu is a beautiful purpose built creative space so I'm really looking forward to working there. Click this link for directions. And here are the details!

Saturday 8th November : 2.30 - 6pm : Cost 30 Euro
Places Are Limited: To Book - 0851376271

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Me and My Shadow

Elena Duff's exhibition - Me and My Shadow - will be launched in the Toradh Gallery in Ashbourne, Co Meath on Tuesday 26th at at 7pm and all are welcome. I was delighted to be invited to launch this exhibition as I first came across Elena's work when her gorgeous illustration was published in Boyne Berries Magazine alongside a poem of mine. 

Elena sculpts small figures which border between lifelike and doll-like as subjects. These inanimate models pose within different scenes creating an alternative world, which she describes as 'similar to ours, childlike, but yet grown up.' Her art is rich in symbolism, both personal, and archetypal.  

Welcome to the blog Elena - the symbolism in the pieces for this exhibition bring to mind fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel... can you tell us more about your work - what inspires you?
I like to describe my work as loosely based around the theme of ‘fairy tales for adults’. I’m interested in the inner life, emotions, recollections, dreams and most importantly the imagination – imagination being a quality nurtured in children but unfortunately not so much with adults. I’ve had people, for instance, tell me that they hated the film Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger because “it’s stupid, people can’t fly”. I’m the opposite, I’d happily suspend all disbelief in the hope that there was another hidden, invisible world out there with people flying all over the place!

None of the works up to this point have been based around specific fairy tales, I use my own life and experiences to generate scenes which I feel best represent what I’m trying to get across. However, while not based on existing stories. I hope the narrative element within my images and sculptures taps into a universal need to have stories that function as allegories, warnings or learning tools.

If you look at many of the standard fairy tales and folk stories they can be rather gruesome – the ones unaltered for modern-day audience that is. I like that there is a contradiction in fairy tales between the palatable and the unsavoury elements. A well known example would be the sweet gingerbread house containing a murderous witch or the cute little billy goats cutting open the wolf, putting stones in his belly and sewing him up again. I find I’m drawn to this dichotomy between outward beauty and something more disturbing, rather like a sudden minor key note heard in a musical piece.

Why Why Why Delilah

In “Why Why Why Delilah” I was imagining the female having Samson’s hair and thus strength. It’s wrapped around her like a protective cloak complete with camouflage. When wearing it she would merge into the starry blackness of night, making her invisible. The question of whether the hair is a protective cloak or smothering overgrowth is left purposefully vague. Similar themes and motifs reoccur over and over again in the stories we tell ourselves, long hair of course most readily associated with Rapunzel, her blinded prince no longer injured in most modern day versions of the story.

Clinging Vine

“Clinging Vine” is one of a number of small pieces in the exhibition. A male head has his mouth covered by a disembodied hand, his neck likewise is in the grip of another hand. Around this central focus roses nearly obscure the face and arms. This piece was created to depict how some couples falsely portray their relationship to the world as rich, warm and beautiful and happy, but behind the facade the power dynamic and emotional manipulation tells a worryingly different tale (or rather doesn’t, if one half of the couple is too fearful to speak out and ask for help). You mentioned Sleeping Beauty and while I would never describe my work as socially conscious, or overtly political this little work does speak somewhat about the little spoken often terrible treatment of men at the hands of some women.


I recently returned from living in Berlin and while it is a city containing a surprising abundance of trees, in the winter when they all died much of the city turned to a damp urban grey. This piece Serpentine, started life in response to that. The figure has black eyes, wide open from 24 hour city life, is dressed in her regal purple coloured dress, with unnaturally coloured hair. I envision her as stumbling back to a more earthy life, ripping her fishnet tights en route, getting snagged along the way, but going forward nonetheless.

I like that image of her moving from one life to another, it has an underworld feel to it. You work with miniature doll like figures Elena,  which you also photograph and paint - can you tell me how this came about?
The doll figures evolved from thematically similar works which were entirely drawn on paper, cut out and placed within similarly drawn and cut out paper scenes. As soon as I moved from pen and ink on paper to using clay, fabrics and colour I knew I had found my artistic niche.

There is an episode of the Simpson's that some readers might be familiar with, where Lisa’s science experiment involving a tooth in a petri dish leads to the unexpected creation of life, in microscopic form. The inhabitants worship Lisa as their god and creator (and fear Bart who pokes them killing thousands, as the devil). On some level my little figures are similar. I form them from clay, dress them and place them within environments which (had they consciousness) they may or may not want to be in. In that sense I am in utter control, the god of my own little world and the doll-like figures are at my mercy. On another level playing with dolls is a strange reversion into childhood, perhaps an escape from the strains and demands of adult life into an imaginary world.
These little figures feature both in my small three-dimensional piece but also as the subject for paintings. I like the idea of taking a figure which is in reality the size of my hand and painting it large as if it was a subject worthy of such scale. It’s a little ridiculous and is a bit of a wry gesture on my part. The paintings take the myth-making aspect of the scenes I create one step further, almost like a court painter ensuring important events are captured on canvas for posterity, despite those stories and events being entirely fictional and the people within them merely dolls.

So, what are you working on next?
In the future I hope to experiment and create larger sculptural works but which are composed of multiple smaller elements, along with dioramas depicting scenes which include multiple characters. I’ll also continuing to use my creations as subjects for my paintings.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Book Of Tom

So I've been working on this book, a memory book.

It was compiled by me, but the contributors are mostly friends and relatives who cared about Tom English. We published it ourselves through It was surprisingly easy. The book is pocket sized, and contains poems, stories, tales, blessings.

Tom was many things, among them -a musician, a rebel- rouser -and my uncle. He died last October and I guess this is how I'm commemorating him.

I carry the book in my bag -  there are plenty of blank pages in there - because there's always more to say.