Big Boots

July 9, 2018

It’s been a busy few weeks. The Watch House was published in paperback in May with a fancy map of Rathlin and a bonus short story. Since then there have been events at Belfast Book Festival, book group visits, and workshops with some overseas visitors at Ireland Writing Retreat in Donegal. I’m looking forward now to some quieter weeks ahead with a chance to get to grips with a new writing project.

I’m also very excited to announce that in September 2018, I take over from the very talented Sheena Wilkinson as Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast. Big Boots to fill in indeed! Royal Literary Fund Fellowships offer professional writers the opportunity to work for two days a week in a university setting helping students to develop their writing skills. I’ll be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, but working with students from across the disciplines, offering one-to-one help with essay and dissertation writing. Sheena continues as an Advisor with the Royal Literary Fund and will be keeping me on track over the course of the next couple of years. You can read more about the Royal Literary Fund here. A number of very well-known writers have made endowments to the fund but here’s one of my favourite facts: in 2001 the Fund sold its share of the merchandising rights in the work of A.A. Milne to Disney. The increase in endowment provided an opportunity to broaden the Fund’s reach. Since the Fellowship Scheme began it has placed 400 writers in posts at 120 higher education institutions across the UK. Even more reason, if more reason were required, to love Winnie the Pooh.

I’m involved in a couple of things over the summer: from Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25thJuly I’ll be facilitating the Fiction Writing workshops at the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh. The Summer School is one of my highlights of the year so I’m thrilled to be getting my hands on one of those fabulous dangly lanyard things that afford admission to events with the likes of David Park, Michael Longley, Imtiaz Dharker, Liz Nugent, Mary O’Donnell, Sheila Llewellyn, Ruth Carr, Maria McManus, Michael Hughes… the list goes on. Full programme of events at the John Hewitt Society.  It’s well worth heading over for a day or two (or if you’re lucky enough to have been awarded a bursary – for the whole week). The Summer School continues until Saturday 28th July.

On Thursday 23rdAugust, I’ll be taking a Fiction Writing workshop at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast from 1pm-5pm. You can book online via the Linen Hall or Tel. 028 9087 2219. Price £20.

In between times, I’ll be packing in as much writing as I can. See you on the road. I’ll be trying to get into some Big Boots.

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh