A splendid event on Tuesday, with Nuala Ní Chonchúir (over from Ireland). Her incredibly well behaved little daughter, Juno, played with her crayons on the Club Room windowsill while the rest of us sat enraptured by Nuala’s readings (from her novel, The Closet of Savage Mementos).
Ably aided and abetted by the SWC’s own Donal McLaughlin, a genial, conversational tone pervaded the evening and brought forth a debate that ranged from Ullapool to the Virgin Mary; from religion to the challenge of turning diaries into something that can stand up as powerful fiction. This last, Nuala has mastered in spades – and we felt honoured that she had crossed the sea to share with us the fruits of her lifetime’s experience, and the wistful reflections on her youth’s follies.
Insights that stay with us: that female writers are asked about their private lives in connection with their fiction, more often than men; that Scots-Gaelic speakers strike her as more confident than their Irish counterparts; that writing five hundred words a day is a good rate of progress; that she never knows the end of her novels as she begins them, or even halfway through.
Nuala has hit the big time, with an advance from Penguin in America for her next novel (about Emily Dickinson’s relationship with her maid, which has been optioned for a film). Way to go, Nuala!
** Embedded photography by Finbar McLoughlin.