Friday, September 13, 2019

Witching Season...


Her Kind
Winter Book Tour

20th  Sept        CULTURE NIGHT
Interview  with  Liz Walsh in Kilkenny Libary

29th Sept          FICTION AT THE FRIARY
Run by Danielle Mc Laughlin & Madeleine D'Arcy. The final Sunday of every month in Cork- fun, fiction, jelly beans,  hula hoops, open mic & free book raffle. 
info: here
                             
6th Oct              DROMINEER/NENAGH 
The Witch within the Walls - Nenagh Castle - 4pm
Niamh  will be chatting to Sarah Moore Fitzgerald. Music from singer Dylan Rooney, and cellist GrĂ¡inne Higgins
 Tickets = here

Dylan Rooney, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Niamh Boyce












15th Oct            EMBASSY BOOK CLUB
Special Reading with the Embassy Book Club
Embassy of  Ireland, Brussels
tickets : here










16th Oct            SNUG HARBOUR
Karl Dehmelt & Niamh Boyce on stage in Brussels
Snug Harbor is created by Sofie Verraest, hosted by Muntpunt Library, the Muntpunt Grand Cafe, Mont Saint  Eugene, the Brussels Writers' Cirlce & Waterstones
details : here
Niamh Boyce, Karl Dehmelt
.













19th Oct               KILDARE READERS FESTIVAL
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Panel in The Riverbank, Newbridge, with Niamh Boyce, Stacey Halls, & Martina Devlin
Whether it’s horror fiction or historical non-fiction, Witches and Wiccan culture have provided rich material for authors throughout the years.During the season of Samhain, we will be discussing witches within the canon of literature. 
Tickets: Here









26th Oct          IMAGINE LITERARY FESTIVAL
From Fact to Fiction Writing Workshop in Waterford
Details: here



9th Nov             LEAVES FESTIVAL
Conversation, music and readings in Portlaoise  - John Sheahan & Niamh Boyce with Dermot Bolger.
Booking: here

14th Nov           Dublin Book Festival: National Library of Ireland
Writing Ireland's History 
Niamh Boyce, Patricia O'Reilly, Eibhear Walshe & Nessa O' Mahoney
Booking: here
















23rd Nov         Workshop: Freshford, Kilkenny
details on  the way... !



Novel Fair 



I'm one of the Irish Writer Centre's Novel Fair judges this year. I would really encourage anyone interested to enter. I wasn't going to send my novel  in 2012  but a writer friend pushed   encouraged me - and I posted it at the last minute. My novel The Herbalist became one of the  winners that year, and was published by Penguin Ireland the following Summer. So go for it! There's not much to lose, and shortlisted writers get critical feedback...  more info Here






Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Something Wicked This Way Comes




It really is the season for all things witch related! The figure of the witch seems to resonate more and more these days.  As Madeline Miller, author of the fabulous Circe, says - 'to be a witch means you are a woman who has more power than society wants you to have.'  


The wonderful book editors, Zoe West and Emma Shacklock at Woman and Home Book Club have included Her Kind in their Six of the Best for October. Its a brilliant selection, two of which I already have - perfect reading for the autumn, and very timely - the witch trial at the center of Her Kind, the sorcery trial of Alice Kyteler took place during this season, and came to a head at All Hallows Eve... 

Woman and Home Bookclub Witch Reads

 The Familiars Stacey Hall,  Her Kind Niamh Boyce, The Glass Woman Caroline Lea... 
Image result for the glass woman

Sanctuary V.V. James, The Witches of St Petersburg Imogen Edwards-Jones.Serpent and Dove Shelby Mahurin
The Witches of St. Petersburg by [Edwards-Jones, Imogen]



That Something Wicked...

On Saturday 19th of October - Kildare Readers Festival are having a special Samhain Event - Something Wicked This Way Comes... The panel will be Stacey Halls, Martina Devlin and myself. We have all written (fantastic!)novels based on real witch trials. Tickets can be booked Here

Niamh Boyce (Her Kind), Stacey Halls (The Familiars), Martina Devlin (The House Where It Happened)

I'll be reading at various events as part of the HER KIND Book Tour, and will post the details very soon! Also, I have some exciting new from the Irish Writers Centre but have been sworn to secrecy for now. 

I've been overwhelmed with the positive reaction to HER KIND, in the past month it was selected a book of the month for the Rick O' Shea Book Club- which has 24,000 members last count, it also received a rave review in Historical Novels Review, by Kristen Mc Dermott - 'This is a marvelously witty, cleverly plotted novel... read the rest Here' 

So, back to the writing shed, 
and here's to having more power than society wants us to!




Monday, August 12, 2019

Kilkenny Arts Festival

They've put me in the tower... !

I'm thrilled that my first festival appearance with Her Kind  is set to take place in Kilkenny City.

Next Saturday, at 11 am, I'll be reading in Kilkenny Castle itself - the site of many scenes in the novel, and of course in the real case - The Sorcery Trial of Alice Kyteler. It will be strange and wonderful to read scenes from the story almost on site - even if seven hundred years have passed... 

For TICKETS - click Here




Many thanks to Kilkenny Arts Festival, and to Kilkenny Book Center who will be there with lots of copies of Her Kind :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Night Swimming - Author Interview with Doreen Finn



   
Summer 1976. A heatwave is gripping Ireland. Nine-year-old Megan lives in a redbrick house in Dublin with her mother, a beautiful and lonely artist, and her grandmother; her father's whereabouts are a mystery that she often thinks about. When an American family moves in downstairs and Megan's mother begins a tentative affair with the father, everything that Megan is sure of starts to unravel…

Congratulations on your new novel Doreen - What a stunning cover! I love the title 'Night Swimming' - I immediately thought of the R.E.M song, is there a connection? There most certainly is a connection between my novel and the REM song! When I was writing the first, tentative draft of what became this book, I was casting around for a title. I was listening to Automatic For The People, REM’s seminal album, and on came the song. It fitted perfectly with the themes within the novel, and with the thread of slipping outside at night to play. I’m a huge REM fan, so it was meant to be! 

Night Swimming is set in the 1970's, it will resonate with a lot of readers that grew up then. What were the reasons for setting it then? Is it an era you always wanted to write about? I chose the 1970s because it was the decade of my own early childhood, and 1976 was the standout year because of the heatwave. I needed to have good weather in the story, because the book is essentially about loss of innocence and a love affair. I wanted to have the weather reflect the passion of the characters, and I knew that if I set the book in a cold January that the chances of a torrid affair would be slim! Also, the seventies are really hot nowadays in terms of their cultural value, and my generation is both nostalgic and protective of that era. I wanted the story of childhood to be authentic, and what could be more authentic than my own experience of that time? To set the same story in the present day wouldn’t work for me, because of technology. There are two missing fathers, an unbridgeable gap between the Irish and the American experience of life, and an ignorance of the wider world, all of which can solved instantly now with a quick Google search. I wanted to keep that innocence, spin it out and see where it took me.

Author Doreen Finn
Your first novel 'My Buried Life' was told the point of view of an adult. This time, Megan your main character, is a young girl. Was her voice easy to slip into? It’s a very different experience. My editor, Noel O’Regan, picked up many points throughout the book where the child’s voice wasn’t childish enough. Because my first novel, My Buried Life, was narrated by an adult female, making Megan’s voice authentic took a lot of work. I had to be careful with things that she would say and wouldn’t say, how she sort-of thinks something may be happening between her mother Gemma and Chris, the American, but she can’t be sure because she doesn’t have the world view or understanding to be fully sure. That sort of thing.  I observed my own two children in their interactions with each other and with their friends, to see how kids see things, what they say in any given situation.  So yes, it was actually harder than writing from an adult’s point of view. My next book will be narrated by an adult, and book 4 will be back to a child’s narration again.

Your writing is beautiful, so vivid and concise - who are the writers you like to read? That you admire? I love good writing. I will cartwheel over broken glass for good prose and well-developed characters. There are so many books being published now that it takes a discerning reader to pick out the books that will appeal to us personally. Mostly, I read women, and within that I tend to read Irish women. It’s not a choice as such, just more the way my tastes lie. My absolute favourite writer of all is Maggie O’Farrell, who I just adore, and who I wish would bring out a book every week so I’d never again have to wonder what to read next! I also admire your good self, Niamh, Julia Kelly, Nuala NiConchuir, Sally Rooney, Claire Kilroy, Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, Janet Fitch, Sadie Jones, Kit de Waal. 

For mystery, no one beats John Banville writing as Benjamin Black, and no author makes me laugh as much as David Nicholls, who is such a sensitive writer. This year, I’ve loved Tin Man, Cape May, Dear Mrs Bird, The Last of Summer, The House on Vesper Sands, An American Marriage, Daisy Jones and the Six. In non-fiction, Constellations by Sinead Gleeson is a standout book. She’s a brilliant writer. Last year I revisited the PD James canon, which I loved, and I'm already stockpiling books for autumn.’ For me, there is no greater disappointment than a disappointing book. It grieves me.

Any tips for other writers? In terms of getting from idea to finished novel? It sounds trite, but the best thing anyone who aspires to write should do is to write. Keep a notebook with you that you can use to write down interesting things you hear or read, nice phrases that you hear someone use. If you have any story ideas, no matter how insignificant they may seem, write them down. And try your hand at writing, in whatever form you feel suits you best. I don’t believe that everyone should start writing short stories before they tackle a novel. Short story writing and novel writing are two entirely different skill sets, and not everyone possesses both. Flash fiction is great for flexing your creative muscles, as is trying something really rigid and structured like Haiku or Tanka. Someone once told me that I should always write with a reader or audience in mind, and actually that was terrible advice – if you’re writing for the first time, write for yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else will think. You don’t have to show your writing to another living soul until you feel ready, and you won’t feel ready until you’re confident about what you’re doing. 

So keep at it, stick with it, and see where the stories take you. I don’t plot and I don’t draw out maps for my books. I start with a character and a setting, usually a female in a house, and I take it from there. The other most important and vital piece of advice to budding writers is to read. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Never stop reading, because it’s only through seeing what other writers produce that you will learn and understand what you want to do yourself.

   What's the worst writing advice you've ever gotten? As per the answer above, being told to write with someone else in mind, for an audience. It was terrible advice, and it wasted a huge amount of writing time for me. It’s like being told to dress for someone else, or find hobbies that someone else likes. You write for yourself. Always. If other people don’t like it, who cares? You’ll always find your readers, and they’ll love what you write.

  Thanks for coming by Doreen, and best of luck with your next novel. Follow Doreen on twitter for all her writing news - @doreen2cv


  Night Swimming is available from Mercier Press, 
all good bookshops & Amazon 
            
About the author: Doreen Finn was born in Dublin, where she now lives with her family. A graduate of UCD, she has lived and worked in Madrid and Los Angeles. Her first novel, My Buried Life, was runner up for the Kate O’Brien award. Night Swimming is her second novel.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Festivals & Readings from Her Kind this August


Greetings from my writing shed - 


I'm popping out to post word of some upcoming events.

I'm delighted let you know that I'll be bringing HER KIND - my novel based on the Sorcery Trial of Alice Kyteler; the first European witchcraft trial - to the following four festivals in August...

I've also added a Page for Book Clubs to this Blog, with Questions & Info about Her Kind - cast your eye to the right, and you'll see it :)



On Saturday 3rd August, at 5pm  -

I'll be in the Literary Tent at the uber cool  All Together Now Festival in WaterfordThe amazing Patti Smith is one of the acts!
Its a Special Book Club Extravaganza arranged by Waterford Library..
For more information and the line up - here

On Saturday 17th August at 11am

I'll be in the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle - the very building which houses the ancient jail where Alice Kytler and her alleged sect of witches were held! Its part of the amazing Kilkenny Arts Festival...
Tickets can be bought HERE, or at the Festival Office.



On Friday 23rd August at 7pm

I'll be in Graiguenamanagh Library
as part of Graiguenamanagh Town of Books Festival, reading and taking part in a Q & A with their brilliant Book club.




On Saturday 24th August at 4pm

I'll be reading alongside John MacKenna in Abbeyleix as part of inaugural The Power of Words FestivalThis is the first year of what promises to be a memorable festival, this year the festival celebrates poet Pat Ingoldsby. Tickets can be bought Here, & click Here to read more... 


Amanda Kelly who created POW, with the legendary Pat Ingoldsby 



And one more good thing... Brussels!
Her Kind is based on a real case, the sorcery trial of Alice Kytler - a Flemish moneylender who lived in medieval Kilkenny. I'm absolutely thrilled to have been invited to Belgium by Ambassador Helena Nolan. I'll be reading from Her Kind and chatting about the Flemish connections, on October 15th as part of the Embassy of Ireland Book Club - tickets can be booked Here



with Sheba in the shed - letting ourselves go :)

I'm reading at festivals later in the Autumn and will update the page then, in the meantime -  I'm writing a new novel from my new shed and trying to be offline & rustic for whats left of July ...  Have a great summer, happy reading to readers, happy writing to writers and happy resting to resters !   




Friday, July 5, 2019

Book Club Pack - Her Kind



Book Club Questions ...
a selection to choose from... 


Q. Alice Kytler was a powerful, mature woman. Are older women still likely to be demonized for being independent? 

Q. The Sorcery Trial of Alice Kytler was notorious at the time - many of the annals contain a reference to the case. Did you know about it before you read the book? Did you know that the first woman to be accused of leading a sect and having a demon lover, lived in Ireland?

 Q. If there was a point of no return in the book, a point where things were never going to be the same again – where do you think that was?

Q. The word witch – how does its use differ today? Can you still destroy someone’s reputation by calling them a name? What names have the same affect now as ‘witch’ did, in medieval times?

Sorcery, religion, politics, greed, privilege, power – all pale in comparison to what one finds at the heart of this story: that natural connection, the love of a mother for her child. (Historical Novels Review) 

Q. What did you think about the relationship between mothers and daughters in the book? Between Petronelle and Basilia, or Lithgen and Petronelle? Are they different to relationships nowadays?

Q. How are names significant in the telling of Her Kind, and the power relationships between the characters?  


Boyce’s depiction of life in 14th century Kilkenny is so evocative and atmospheric the reader can almost taste the honeycombs in Petronelle’s carefully tended hives and feel the heavy animal pelts that line Alice’s secret chamber. (Irish Times)

Q. Medieval Ireland was a melting pot – full of different languages and customs. Were you surprised to learn how diverse Ireland was, that it was a fractured place, full of tribes and walled towns – not one united entity?


Q. What do you think Ledrede’s real motivation for accusing Alice Kytler of witchcraft was?


Q. Was Alice undone by her love for her husband?


The characters are part of a world that at times is utterly alien to us, and one of the most haunting aspects of the novel is the depiction of anchoress, the holy woman who has been bricked alive into the walls of St Canice’s Cathedral. ( Irish Times)

Q. Did you know about the anchorites before reading Her Kind? That there were women and men who lived such lives by choice? 


Q. Who do you think Agnes, the anchoress, really was? Why was she locked between the walls?


‘The cathedral was also where I came across the anchoress’s grave. An anchorite or anchoress is a hermit who gives up ordinary life for a solitary life of prayer – they are often sealed in between the walls of a church, with only small ‘squints’ or windows to receive food through. The figure of a nun is carved onto the anchoress’s grave stone.  Her hands are held in old style prayer position, palm facing outwards rather than palms together. When I placed my palms over her stone ones, I felt a strange sensation, close to the one that Petronelle describes in Her Kind, that of an old truth pushing back – that day the character of Agnes the anchoress came to life.’ (Niamh Boyce)


Q. How did you feel towards Alice? Towards Petronelle? Towards Basillia? Towards Ledrede? Did you prefer one character over another? 


Q. What was the real cause of Sir Johns illness? Who was behind it?


Q. In 14th century, the Pope was based in Avignon, France and he had a lively fear of sorcery and witchcraft. He accused members of his own court of sticking pins in his waxen likeness.  Richard Ledrede, was one of his more favoured clerics. He gave him the Bishopric of Ossory in Ireland. Richard, an Englishman, had never set foot in the country yet within a few weeks of his arrival, he was making accusations against his parishioners… 
Was it inevitable that someone like Richard Ledrede would make accusations of sorcery against one of the residents of Kilkenny?

The novel is beautifully written and transports us to the 14th century, though many of its themes loudly resonate today. I can’t wait to see where Niamh Boyce takes us next. (RTE Guide)  
Q. Was the world of Her Kind familiar or strange to you? What had you expected medieval Ireland to be like? How was it different? What resonated? 


Q. The case is well documented by historians and academics. There are several interesting explorations. Why do you think the case remains outside of the standard history book?


Q. There is no reference to this trial in the ancient Liber Primus Kilkennius as it stands today. Yet it records many less significant cases from the time. Do you think that it was undocumented, or that references were removed from this record of the goings on in 14th Kilkenny?


Q. Would you have preferred to live outside or inside the walls of Kilkenny City?


Q. Medieval women (who aren’t royal) are often viewed as passive, as chattel - Dame Alice was an incredibly powerful moneylender. If Ledrede had not accused her of witchcraft, we may never have even known that a woman of her kind existed. Do you think she was unique for a woman of her time? 


Q. On arriving in Hightown, Petronelle and her daughter are given new names and clothes, and are forbidden to speak their native language. They are seen as ‘other’ in their own country. What affect do you think this has on their relationship, their sense of identity?



Q. Ledrede’s words and phrases are woven throughout the novel, as fact and fiction weave – why do you think has not been given first person narration, the way Petronelle and Basillia have been


Q. Her Kind is based on a real trial - a landmark case in the history of witchcraft - did that affect how you felt about the characters and their fate? Had you heard of the case before this? Why do you think this is?

Q. This was a hugely significant case yet there’s been no memorial or monument to Petronella de Midia, as yet. Ledredes effigy can be seen in St Canice’s Cathedreal to this day. Who decides who we, as people, remember? What happens to those who are not commemorated, listed, archived, named? Whose names are on the streets of your town, who is your local bridge named after? If you open a map, what do the names tell you? What do they mean? Is that meaning still alive?  Do these things matter? Who is mapping our history for us? 

Q. If you were to retrieve someone's voice from history, whose would it be?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Reading Her Kind in Wexford Library


I'm off to this stunning library in Wexford on Tuesday evening! I love Libraries, AND its free to attend (but try to book in advance.) The nicest part of publishing a book is meeting readers and people as fascinated by this historic witchcraft trial as I am - really looking forward to the event.

To Book - 053-9196760

Friday, June 7, 2019

Irish Witchcraft and Demonology - The Bramble Hill Press Edition

Dame Alice Kyteler by Eleanor Quinn

An Interview with artist Eleanor Quinn...


I recently came across this print of Alice Kyteler on Instagram, and was really taken by it. It's a stunning image, and I love line work. Alice's demon was (allegedly!) a dog, but the artist chose to use a cat, which I think works beautifully. I was intrigued to discover that the print is part of a series of illustrations based on John Seymour's Irish Witchcraft and Demonology. I wore the pages of that particular book thin when researching Her Kind and Alice Kyteler's sorcery trial. My beaten copy came from The Book Shop in Carndonagh, County Donegal... its an old book, first published in 1913 and out of print. It is full of  very curious tales of witchcraft, demons and the supernatural. The artist of the print is Eleanor Quinn of Bramble Hill Press, and as it turns out, has reprinted a beautiful new illustrated edition of  Seymour's uncanny book . I had to find out more  ...

my old copy

Welcome to the blog Eleanor - can you tell us about your publishing house?
Well, this book is the first venture in a new bigger project that my husband, Patrick, and I have just begun - a small publishing house called Bramble Hill Press, where we will be making new editions of older books that are either out of print entirely or have fallen off the radar. Patrick works on updating the format and layout of the book and making a kindle edition, and I get to work making illustrations for them. We've been busy over the past few years finding all the cool books that we think people should still be reading, and Irish Witchcraft and Demonology was my personal favorite, so was a clear starting point.

It's a great choice! What did you think of Irish Witchcraft and Demonology when you first read it?
I was enthralled! I kept reading bits aloud in amazement to my family - they had to tell me to pipe down and give it a rest. I couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of these stories before, especially the Cork case of Florence Newton, I've lived here for 25 years and not come across her. My secondary feelings and thoughts were much more reflective - How many of these women were actually witches? Probably very few. How easy it must have been to deduce that if a woman was old and ugly she must be evil, and how easily they believed the accusations of the young 'victims'! How much of this could now be explained by medical knowledge? Could some of it actually be true? I found myself hoping that a lot of them were in fact witches so at least they didn't suffer all the gruesomeness of a trial in complete innocence.

I had the same reaction while researching the sorcery trial of Alice Kytler, at first its all quite sensational and fascinating - but then there's that 'hold on a minute, these were real women' realization, and all that comes with that. There are quite an array of familiars, charms, ghosts and witches in this strange book -  was it hard to choose which elements to illustrate?

Mary Butters by Eleanor Quinn
Very. Unlike other projects where you are given a tidy brief to work from, how to go about this was entirely up to me. I felt sure that I didn't want to make a comedy of the stories, and sure that I didn't want to sensationalize them by going full on fairytale witchy or Gothic demonic on it. I was most interested in the people, because they were real people, who really went though this, so I settled on a portrait of each main character, trying to depict them with a bit of respect, and some ambiguity on whether they were actually witches or not.



There's a dignity to that creative approach, and it comes across in the finished work. I think thats what drew me so strongly to your print of Alice. Of all the stories in the book - what was your favorite to work on? 


My favourite piece was the portrait of Mary Butters, I think it was the most fun because it's such a dramatic story. Mary was a plant-witch, or butter-witch, from Co. Antrim at the start of the 1800s. She was hired by a local family to lift a cattle-curse from their livestock but ended up killing three of the family members in the process by asphyxiating them with the fumes of the potion she was brewing. I've drawn her leaning over her pot of noxious smoke, which was gorgeous to draw with all the swirling clouds. This story is also a favourite of mine because Mary was acquitted and carried on practicing her craft, a rare good outcome in the annals of witch-history! Though hopefully she didn't try that particular method again.

Let's hope not! I love your illustrative style. Can you tell us a little about your aesthetic as an artist?
Sure, I owe a lot of my style to my two main loves from art college, line drawing and copper etching. I had the most wonderful drawing teacher, Megan Eustace, who taught me to love line work, which followed nicely into working etching onto copper plates. Etching is such a beautiful traditional process, and has been used for some of my all time favorite illustrations from the Golden Age. 
I'm just working with pen on paper at the moment, but the style of my work very much owes to printmaking. The content of my work has always leant towards the magical, dreamy side of things, so projects like this are made for me. We've just begun working on Sharpe's The History of Witchcraft in Scotland - much more grim reading but some fantastic stories there too, I'm already excited about the illustrations that could come from them.

So more witchcraft - but a much darker project I imagine. Best of luck with Bramble Hill Press, and thanks for the interview Eleanor!

The Bramble Hill edition of John Seymour's Irish Witchcraft and Demonology is now available on Amazon  
& here's a link to Bramble Hill Press Etsy Shop where prints are available


The Bramble Hill Press Illustrated Edition