Friday, August 27, 2021

Still here...

Yes, I’m still here! And still writing... I decided to reawaken the blog as I miss its old style, slow style - which suits my own at the moment!


For (Ireland based) readers interested in writing workshops, Fact to Fiction in particular – I’ll be running live workshops this Autumn – feel free to contact me via the blog to register your interest. It will be covid compliant with limited numbers and based in the Irish Midlands.

Lyonesse Literary Journal...

Image by Monika Ruminska Akwarele

I've been trying to read journals and sites that feed my writing mind and inspire at the moment  and Lyonesse is one of them. Its an exciting online journal celebrating women writers who foreground women and weave magic and nature into their work. They ‘particularly love showcasing writing inspired by mythology, folklore and fairy tales.’ It’s run by Sam Young and team. I was delighted to be part of their 'In Conversation' feature - the interview covers fairy tales, folklore, Irish history, poetry, mermaids, silence, witchcraft and a little about next novel...! 

'Niamh Boyce is an award winning writer and poet from Ireland who is based in the Irish Midlands. Using the novel and poem to unearth the witches, ghosts and other buried voices of marginalised Irish women, her writing frequently explores womanhood and the oppressive influence of the Catholic religion and patriarchy on women’s lives. 

In 2012, she was awarded the Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year for her poem “Kitty” and later went on to publish her first poetry collection, Inside the Wolf (2018), in which she dissects traditional fairy tales to explore art, motherhood and her Irish ancestry. Boyce’s debut novel, The Herbalist was published in 2013, gaining her Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards the same year. Set in 1930 rural Ireland, it tells the story of how the arrival of a mysterious medicine man to a small Irish village impacts the lives of four women within the community and exposes the culture of shame and silence which oppresses them. 

In 2019, Her Kind was published and shortlisted for the EU Prize for Literature. Taking the title from the Anne Sexton poem, the novel provides a speculative account of the Kilkenny Witch Trial which saw a group of Irish women condemned for witchcraft in 1324. In this interview, Lyonesse Editor Sam Young and Niamh discuss some of her feminist literary influences, the enduring allure of myths folklore and fairy tales, and giving voice to the historically silenced women of Ireland’s turbulent past..... 

to read more - click here

In the Long Read section, there's an fantastic in depth critical analysis of my first novel The Herbalist, by Maeve Eveyln Reilly - (first, spoiler alert, it's best to read this after you've finished the novel!) - to read - click here-   

Image by Monika Ruminska Akwarele

There's also a beautiful feature by Sam Young on hares and their associations with the moon, goddesses and witchcraft - its illustrated by Monika Ruminska Akwarele's stunning watercolours... to read more - click here 

In the meantime, I'm getting to the writing every day, some days only for a very short time - but getting to it day by day keeps the energy of the book alive... 

'In some ways I'm rediscovering the reasons why I wanted to write in the first place; for the pleasure of creating and living in the worlds which belong to me, and no one else until I invite them in...' 

Stephen Wyatt

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Heart of Goodness by Carolyne Van Der Meer

Carolyne Van Der Meer

Hello from the midwintery Irish midlands - where poetry has been keeping me (half) sane though the dark evenings. I've been taking a zoom poetry workshop with the talented Emily Cullen, and finishing my third novel - one day at a time, as they say - these aren't easy times to concentrate!  

I was delighted to receive a poetry collection from Carolyne  Van Der Meer in the post recently. Carolyne is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and lecturer who lives in Montreal, Quebec. She has recently published 'Heart of Goodness' - a sequence of thirty poems exploring the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys who established the  Congrégation de Notre-Dame...  we talk here about the book, the subject and the writing process....

Welcome back to the blog Carolyne, and congratulations on your new book on Marguerite Bourgeoys. Can you recall when you first became aware of Marguerite? 

First, let me say thank you, Niamh, for interviewing me about my book on your blog. It's been a few years since you've invited me and I'm delighted to be here! I first came across Marguerite Bourgeoys when I moved to Montreal in 1990. I noticed that her name was associated with schools--there was a school named after her as well as a school board, but I didn't really know much about the significance this woman held in Quebec. I was new to Montreal and had spent my early life in Ontario, the province next door--where Marguerite is not known at all, really. Then in 1997, a literary journal called Quill & Quire asked me to review the book Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal, 1640-1655 by Patricia Simpson. I loved the book and gave it a positive review (here). 

And for the next 20 years, Marguerite was tucked into the back of my mind. In 2017, my family and I moved to a condo in the old part of the city, where the Chapelle de Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is located: this chapel, rebuilt in 1771, sits on the site where Marguerite built her first chapel in 1678. For quite a while, I would walk by this chapel on my way to work and felt strongly that Marguerite was present. Suddenly, this incredible saint was back in my mind again, quietly telling me that there was a book to be written about her. A different sort of book than the many others. 

I should mention here that Patricia Simpson, the author of the book I reviewed in 1997, was instrumental in my journey to write Heart of Goodness. After a good year of walking by the chapel, I reached out to her by email and asked if she might be able to help me get access to the archives where all writings by and about Marguerite were kept. These were located in the Motherhouse of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, the uncloistered community of sisters that Marguerite founded. Because Patricia was a sister in the Congrégation, she was particularly helpful in making this happen! Working in the archives was key to beginning the thinking work that would lead to Heart of Goodness. 

Marguerite was a fascinating woman - what does she mean to you on a personal level? 

Marguerite Bourgeoys signifies courage to me—in so many ways. Remember, she was from a well-to-do family in France--and finding a suitor for her would have been prominent in her parents' minds. Instead, Marguerite had the courage to choose a non-traditional path: of dedicating her life to God. Secondly, she decided to come to New France--with Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, a man she didn't even know--by boat. Those decisions are courageous ones as well. 

And when she got to Ville-Marie, the colony that became Montreal, she created, with a quiet and steadfast fortitude, the means for women to gain an education. She opened the first school in 1658, and her central role as an educator enabled women to take on key roles in the community. She was a pioneer of education and religion--and though it took many years for her to be seen in this way, Marguerite was a feminist, blazing the trail for women in a way few before her had done. 

'... intricately crafted poems which shine like their subject with sincerity, originality, and fidelity to essential truths.'  (Michael Farry)

You have whittled a whole life into a beautiful poetic sequence Carolyne, was it challenging to decide what to include and what to leave out?
What a great question! It was incredibly difficult. But I kind of went with my gut on this. As I was doing my research, I made a list of the most significant milestones in Marguerite's life. I knew that I wanted to write only 30 poems, so I worked it down systematically at first—and slowly got to my magic number. Some were obvious, others less so. For example, there is a poem about a young mother, Françoise, who gave her wilful daughter, Catherine, a "time-out" in a barrel. Catherine tried to get out of the barrel and got caught between the slats of wood that held her inside--and died. Marguerite worked to ensure justice for Françoise as she knew this death was an accident. She didn't abandon Françoise but rather, helped her to find peace despite her guilt. To me, this event, though certainly one among many that required compassion, showed Marguerite's fairness, as well as her loyalty and her dedication--which I thought needed to be illustrated to the reader in the clearest of terms.

Best of luck with your future writing Carolyne, and with Heart of Goodness.

A review of 'Heart of Goodness' can be read on poet Michael Farry's blog Here

'Heart of Goodness' can be purchased here 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Writing, Witches and Samhain

Greetings from the writing shed this wild and windy Samhain weekend - I'm over on the 'Shelf Life' blog, where Lisa asked me all about writing, witches, halloween and Her Kind. You can read it Here

Monday, February 17, 2020

Her Kind

The Bookclub Edition! 

 Her Kind tells the story of Ireland's first witchcraft trial - the 1324 Sorcery Trial of Dame Alice Kyteler. It was a landmark case in the history of witchcraft trials, the first case of a woman accused of having a demon lover (an incubus) and leading a sect of sorceresses. The case was notorious at the time. The judges of the EU Prize for literature, called Her Kind 'as searing a critique of our own times as is Arthur Millar's The Crucible.'


A masterpiece… Boyce delicately unfolds this atmospheric, magical thriller with pace and juice.  Sunday Independent.

Gripping ... a complicated story of ambition, love and what it means to belong ... evocative and atmospheric.' Irish Times

'Beautifully written and transports us to the 14th century, though its themes loudly resonate today.'

'A beautifully absorbing novel, illuminating the remarkable story of a woman whose life has since been subsumed into folklore. Highly recommended.' Hot Press

                     Her Kind is available from bookshops 

                                                        in the UK....

☝ W.H. Smith ...   here 

☝ Waterstones ...  here

☝ Foyles ...          here

☝ Amazon uk ...  here

                                                          and Ireland...

Easons ... here

Dubray ... here

The Gutter Bookshop ...  here

The Book Centre ... here

Kennys Bookshop ... here

                                                          and also... 

ABE books ... here

Book Depository ... here

Amazon ... here

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 Gráinne 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

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 :)

Still here...

Yes, I’m still here! And still writing... I decided to reawaken the blog as I miss its old style, slow style - which suits my own at the mom...