Sunday, June 10, 2018

Inside the Wolf

Come into the woods

Meet Red Riding Hood. Meet witches, ghosts, beasts, painters, muses and mermaids in a poetry collection about art, motherhood, and voice. 

Watch out for the wolf

My collection of poetry, is available from today from Amazon. Many thanks to John MacKenna, and Nuala O Connor, who took the time to read the book and say good things.....

‘In these clever, concise poems, Niamh Boyce resurrects the ancestors who gifted her a legacy of words and their ghostly presences shimmer through the work. Boyce has the artist’s peeled eye: she dissects fairy tales and reassembles them with colour, menace and wit. Her imagery is visceral, and she is as comfortable making the reader laugh as moving the heart. These are honest poems, open to beauty and to examining women’s complex negotiations with the world. *Inside the Wolf* is a diverse and vivid collection, a fierce celebration of words and women.’ 

Nuala O’Connor, author of ‘Miss Emily.’

‘From the moment when the skeletons are pulled from the closet to the moment when the forest is riddled with monsters, these poems are, as Niamh Boyce writes, "mothers calling their children for supper." They are spells woven, like the witch-spells about which she writes, to draw us in, to show us the possibilities and the darknesses of the human condition. But, most of all, it is the ghosts of people like Agnes Richter, Frida Kahlo, Katharina Detzel and Kitty who "tiptoe in like children who ought to be sleeping" who will long remain with me, their lives reimagined in these marvelous poems.’

John MacKenna, author of ‘Once We Sang Like Other Men.’

Available on Amazon - click Here

Monday, July 31, 2017

Fact to Fiction

I'll be teaching a workshop at the end of August specifically for people interested in weaving fact and fiction. It would suit people who have already begun a project, or have a particular subject in mind. So this Autumn might be the time to tackle that story that's been brewing for a while :) This is an article I wrote on my own process for my first book The Herbalist.

And here are the course details....

Location: Athy Heritage Centre, Emily Square, Athy
Date: Sat 26th August from 12.30- 3.30pm
Price: 45 Euro per person. (Limited numbers so booking is essential)


Course Title: Fact to Fiction
A practical writing workshop, exploring how true stories can inspire a work of fiction.

The workshop…
In this practical workshop, award winning historical novelist, Niamh Boyce will explore how true stories can inspire a work of fiction. She will discuss writing that first draft, revision and research. It is suitable for both beginners and those who have been writing for a while.
All you need is a pen and notebook…

Niamh has just finished her second novel, her first ‘The Herbalist’ (Penguin Ireland) won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013, and was long listed for the IMPAC Award. 'The Herbalist' was set in the 1930s, and inspired by a newspaper clipping. Her most recent work was also inspired by a true story - a medieval witchcraft trial, to be published in 2019.

Winner of the Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year 2012, Niamh’s poetry collection was highly commended in The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2013. Her novel, The Herbalist (Penguin Ireland) won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013, and was long listed for the IMPAC Award. Her stories have been adapted for stage, broadcast, published in literary magazines and anthologized, most recently in The Long Gaze Back- Irish Women Writers' and 'The Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction.

Niamh is a trained facilitator and tutor with a background in community development. She has devised and taught creative writing and novel workshops for many years. She has a Master in Women's Studies (Trinity) and an honors degree in English and History (UCG) Other qualifications include a Higher Diploma in Community Development Practice(NUIG) and a Community Arts Certificate.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Helena Duggan & the specs that inspired a novel

Helena Duggan is a writer from Kilkenny, a medieval, haunted city in the south of Ireland.  A Place Called Perfect is her first book. I met Helena many years ago on a writing course. Our group got on so well, that we still meet regularly and hound each other to keep writing:) 
Hi Helena! What inspired you to write A Place Called Perfect?
the original glasses!
I always wanted a pair of round rimmed glasses. Most people think when I tell them that I must’ve loved John Lennon or Harry Potter, and while Harry Potter is definitely on my list of favorite people - neither is the reason for my love of round specs. It was actually James Joyce who sparked my interest. I’d love to say I'd admired Joyce’s work from an early age, but truth be told, I didn’t know who he was outside of the fact that he was a man in a painting my mother owned and he wore the coolest glasses. Years later I saw a similar pair in an antique shop in Australia and I bought them convinced I would change the lenses and wear them myself. That never happened. The more I carried the glasses the more I began to think about their last owner. I wondered if he or she were dead and surmised they were as I the glasses were antique. I began to think about that person and their life. Maybe their memories had become locked inside the lenses and if I got rid of them - I’d be throwing away the last pieces of that person. This idea set me on the path to Perfect.

Perfect is a fascinating place, is it based on anywhere in particular? What was it like creating a world?

It’s based on Kilkenny. I hadn’t started out basing it here, it just kind of happened organically. I needed a family name and I chose Archer. It’s prominent in Kilkenny’s history, and it lent itself to both good and evil characters. Then I needed a place where part of the town could be hidden inside the other part without anyone noticing. Kilkenny’s High street sits above Kieran’s Street and its stone walls. I began to play with the idea of extending few walls here and there and locking Kieran Street inside the rest of the Town. This worked well as did the underground passages, cobbled roads and medieval graveyards of Kilkenny and slowly Perfect began to take shape. It was never a concise decision just something that happened really and I wasn’t aware that I was creating a world until it was created, otherwise I’m not sure I’d be able to do it ;)

And, last question Helena! Who is your favorite writer?
I love Roald Dahl, I read his books loads when I was younger and loved his language and how he made up his own words. Most of what I remember while reading his books is laughter. I think I laughed a lot and that feeling has stuck with me. I also really love JK Rowling's Harry Potter books. I haven’t read any of her other works. I think Harry Potter has stuck with me because she created a totally believable story right from the beginning, none of the seven books feel contrived and the whole idea which was huge has very few plot holes. Her world feels real to me!

About A Place Called Perfect… Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be neat and tidy and perfectly behaved all the time?
But Violet quickly discovers there's something weird going on – she keeps hearing noises in the night, her mum is acting strange and her dad has disappeared.
When she meets Boy she realizes that her dad is not the only person to have been stolen away...and that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!

You can buy your copy HERE  at Amazon - or all good bookshops

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beginners Fiction...

Beginners Fiction with Niamh Boyce

Starts: Tue 19 Sept 2017
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Duration: 10 Weeks
Cost: €280/€260 Members
Venue: Irish Writers Centre
                          No. 19 Parnell Square, Dublin

One of the (many!) great things about finishing a novel is being able to concentrate on short fiction, and having time to teach. I'm delighted to delivering this workshop at the Irish Writers Centre in September, its a place that's been good to me. The Writers Centre's inaugural Novel Fair was where I met my publishers Penguin, which led to the publication of my debut, The Herbalist.  The course is for beginners. No matter how long I've been writing, I find coming back to a beginners mind is essential (and exciting) - as Natalie Goldberg says  - " Each time is a new journey with no maps"... 

Course Description...

Suitable for those new to writing, and getting back to writing.
Fun but focused, the core of this course will be weekly writing exercises. Through these, participants will create, and shape new fictions. These might grow into flash pieces, short stories, monologues, rants or chapters. Each writer will work towards completing their piece over the course of the ten weeks. Basic character development, voice, point of view, story and setting will also be discussed. 

A Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year 2012. Niamh’s novel, The Herbalist (Penguin Ireland) was an Irish Book Awards winner and shortlisted for an IMPAC Award.

 For more information on the course click - Here
For more about my Bio and training click - Here

The Irish Writers Centre - 01 872 130

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Submit Your Darlings

In the summer, and with school out, and my writing schedule eaten up - I love turning to shorter work, stories, poems, hybrid tales that are neither one or the other. There are plenty of places to send work at the moment. I posted previously about submitting to magazines  (and must update the list of Irish magazines - they've tripled in the past few years, a really good sign.) 

Words Ireland have a good list of magazines HERE. In the meantime, Mslexia are currently inviting submissions from women writers for their showcase section. They want stories of up to 2,200 words, poems of up to 40 lines, and short scripts of up to 1,000 words. 
The themes are...
It’s often said that the past is another country. For this theme we invite you to take your imagination on a journey to history or prehistory and tell us about the poignant, tragic or amazing people and events you discovered there.  CLOSING DATE: 4 September 2017
For this theme we’re look for stories and poems with a mythical, mystical or paranormal aspect to them. So channel your inner Rowling and Pullman and open the door to daemons, dungeons and dragons.  CLOSING DATE: 4 December 2017
Submitting your work
Entries are judged anonymously, so please put your name on a separate cover sheet and omit your name from your poem or story. To send us your submissions online, fill in the form below and upload your submission document .
To send your entries by post, write to
Mslexia Publications
PO Box 656
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 1PZ.

For more info click HERE

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Finally... & A Workshop

Just back to blogging, after a bit of a hiatus, with some bits of news... the final draft of my novel has just been (finally, finally!) printed off -  and its just in time to let me travel to Tipperary and facilitate a First Novel, Second Novel workshop...

Photo by @ lorrainemurphydooley

The title refers to my recent novels - both were inspired by true stories, the first by an Indian Herbalist in the 1930s, and this latest work, by a medieval witchcraft trial. 

In the workshop I'll be reading extracts from both, The Herbalist and Her Kind, and talking about writing fiction inspired by real events - covering research, setting, characters - and that difficult question - how much fact, and how much fiction? Participants will also do a little writing themselves. 

Its a three hour evening workshop, and is open to anyone interested in writing. Organized by The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, Co Tipperary - it takes place at 7 pm, tomorrow - Thursday 23rd March. 


1st Book, 2nd BookNiamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce
THU23MAR 2017




7pm to 10pm
Niamh Boyce is currently working on her second novel. Her first ‘The Herbalist’ (Penguin Ireland) won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013 and was long-listed for the IMPAC Award. 'The Herbalist' details the arrival of an enigmatic figure in small-town Ireland in the 1930's and the ramifications of his dealings with the women in that town. This practical workshop will look at the utilisation of local stories as subject matter and how they can be interpreted and developed to tell universal truths. Niamh will also discuss the process of editing - specifically in relation to working on her second novel.
Strictly limited to 10 places
Please book directly through box office 0504 90204. Ring or call to the desk during box office hours. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I'm now available to give one to one feedback on work :) 

The Irish Writer’s Centre have compiled a Professional Mentor Panel. Basically, if you need a critique or feedback on specific work, you can choose a particular author to work with. If you're struggling to complete your novel, or finish a short story, or short story collection... check it out ! 

Further details are Here or contact the Writers Centre - General Manager, Bernadette Greenan, at 00353 1 8721302.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Strokestown International Poetry Competition

Nearing the end of my novel, soon. A few more weeks, I hope! Its been a long haul. It helps that the short people are back at school, though they'll have almost seven weeks of 'off days' (between holy days, bank holidays, and religious festivals etc...) this better keep my head down -  but in the meantime - Poetry... The 2017 Strokestown International Poetry Festival Competition is open for entries. I went to this festival a few years ago and had a ball, it was great crack, very fine poetry and even a guided mountain climb. There'll be a festival anthology this year - in which shortlisted entrants will feature alongside the work of the judges and other poets. Shortlisted poets for each of these competitions will also be asked to read a selection of their poems as part of the festival, and will receive a reading fee of €200. Closing date:  2nd December, 2016. For details, rules and entry forms see Here Good luck if you enter :)

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bailieborough Poetry Prize 2016

Have you poems ready for release? The Bailieborough Poetry Prize 2016 is open for submission till Wednesday 31st August 2016. They give 50 lines max, longer than the 40 usually given in competitions...
  • First prize of €300 for winning poem with a 2nd prize of €50 to be awarded.
  • There will also be a special prize for a local entrant domiciled in Cavan or Meath.
  • Each poem must not exceed 50 lines, and should be typed, single-spaced.
  • Up to three poems may be submitted per entry. You may submit as many entries as you wish. A fee of €5 per poem or 3 poems for €10 is payable. 
The judges this year are Michael Farry and Mairead Donnellan. More details HERE

Monday, August 8, 2016

Womankind - Win a Copy

"I have always loved, and lived, my own theatre." - Leonor Fini 

A free copy of issue 9 of Womankind Magazine is up for grabs today :) I'm a proud contributor to this beautiful quarterly -  it has no advertisements, no brain mush, just good writing and inspiring art. Leave a comment below, and I'll put your name in the hat :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

To Hell With Housework

I asked some other writers how they get through their summers, and still managed to write ....

 Contrary to the notion that it gets easier to find time as the children get older, Carmel Harrington among others (myself included) finds parenting now demands just as much if not more of her writing time. She writes ‘every morning while they are in school, and after they go to bed, but throw in chicken pox back to back, broken arms for both of them (you couldn't write it) and various other life curve balls, I've just not got the word count done.'  Carmel began to write through the weekends as well. With a novel deadline approaching; she checked into a local hotel for a week. ‘It’s tough balancing it all, but any working mother will tell you the same.... This summer, Carmel’s using camps, and kid swapping with another mother - they’ll take each other’s kids a couple of afternoons a week. ‘After that, it’ll be a lot of late nights and weekends. Somehow or other, I'll get there. And so will you.’

by Sarah Andersen

Maria Duffy agrees, ‘the juggling never really stops, no matter what age they are and the guilt is always there. I tend to do a lot of my writing at night when everyone is gone to bed. I can get way more done without any interruptions. It does leave me exhausted the next day, but I try to pick nights when hubby is around the next morning so he can hold the fort while I get a lie-in. There should be a mandatory week in September when all mothers are made go to a spa to recover! Louise Phillips also finds going away to write is a terrific help, ‘but early morning is the most guilt free time although it's all about juggling, including the guilt!’

Keep a notebook or page of your manuscript on you at all times, so you can write or revise whenever you get a second Ruth Long recommends doing this, ‘in the car outside schools, coffee shops,waiting for classes, supervision, naptimes etc. I then type things up later. It's also important to look after yourself, so if you set a writing word count for a day make sure it's a minimum, and anything on top of that is a bonus and will make you feel better.’

Hazel Gaynor finds it useful to break the days/weeks up into work time and family time - as much as is reasonably possible. She also finds ‘it often comes down to getting up very early to write for a few hours before the boys are up, or staying up late after they're in bed. That way I at least feel I've made a start before breakfast etc...’

Lorna Sixsmith comments that summer camps aren’t always that helpful – ‘They’re so short, and as I live half hour drive from most. By the time I've got them there, it's time to collect them.... add to that,’ said Lorna, farmer and writer, ‘a husband who says 'can you stand in a gap for 5 min' and an hour later...!’ 

Forget the housework,’ says Shirley Benton- Bailey  'and let the lot of them find what they need when they need it. I find whenever I down tools, my family are a lot more resourceful about getting what they need than they'd lead me to believe....! She recommends online food shopping or getting your partner hooked on Aldi. ‘I have totally outsourced Aldi to my husband now, and won't be taking it back :)

Cat Hogan who just launched her first book, They All Fall Down, empathizes – ‘I spend my days crippled with guilt. The grass is up to my knees in the garden and I can't see out the window with the grime! I'll write in the morning when the half man is in school (the baby will be put in front of the telly or out the back garden) - then, when they go to bed, I go back to it. I look like a crack head as I'm wrecked all the time. I just about manage a shower every day and the weekends don't exist. That said- I love it.’

Margaret Scott thinks the key is to ‘be 'ready' at the first sign of having an hour or two to yourself, so be thinking all the time working out the next bit you want to write so that when an opportunity presents you can 'drop everything and write'. And that means write, not hoover, not put on a wash, not clean out the fridge... Funnily enough I do find I read so much more in the summer which always puts me even more in the mood for writing so it’s as much me wanting to find time for writing as having to, if that makes any sense... it's not easy though, and with a broken armed seven year old and the two year old half-boy-half-bullock this summer will most likely prove to be the ultimate test of my dedication!’

Gin sales are going to rocket this summer!’ says Hazel Gaynor, adding that its ‘very reassuring to realize everyone is facing the same plate-spinning, house-falling-apart-around-your-ankles, child-juggling, deadline-stress predicament over the next 8 weeks. I was explaining it to a friend the other day like this: imagine your office job. Now imagine having the same expectations and deadlines and work to get done as you do all year, but that you have to take your children to work with you every day for eight weeks. Not easy!

Thanks for all your tips, wisdom and humor - here’s to September, down with guilt, and up with gin! Good luck everyone, keep going!

Inside the Wolf

Come into the woods Meet Red Riding Hood. Meet witches, ghosts, beasts, painters, muses and mermaids in a poetry collection about ar...