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Nuala Ní Chonchúir


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Website: NualaNiChonchiur.com

Born in Dublin in 1970, Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a full-time fiction writer and poet living in Galway county. Nuala holds a BA in Irish from Trinity College and a Masters in Translation Studies from Dublin City University and teaches creative writing on a part-time basis. Nude is her third collection of short fiction.

Short Story Collections

Nude
Salt Modern Fiction, 2009

Reviewed by Kristin Thiel

The Wind Across the Grass
Arlen House, 2004



Reviewed by Julia Bohanna

To The World of Men, Welcome
Arlen House, 2005




Two Interviews with Nuala Ní Chonchúir:
Interview about Nude (2009)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Nuala Ní Chonchúir: 3 years

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

NNC: Not really. I mean, you always hope that you'll write enough decent stories that someday will end up collected but I’d never set out to write a "deliberate" collection.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

NNC: Once I cottoned on to the motif of the nude in some of the stories I was writing, there were stories that had to be ditched because they didn't fit with the title theme. Order-wise, I started and ended with favourites of mine, otherwise I varied the male/female POV, where the stories were set, and 1st vs 2nd vs 3rd person POV. I wanted each story the reader began to feel very different to the last. It took ages to make those decisions.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

NNC:  A small, affecting piece of fiction where something happens – that something is the raison d'être of that particular story.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

NNC:  No!

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

NNC: Did the stories stay with you afterwards?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?

NNC: Fantastic! It's a real honour that people part with their hard earned cash and then spend time with your characters. It's amazing, really.

TSR: What are you working on now?

NNC: Mostly poetry, if anything at all; I'm adding to the same single story since March and it's nowhere near done. I have a 4 month old baby and two bigger kids, so it's hard to get time or space to write. The only time I do these days is in the back of the car, scrawling on a Pukka Pad, while my partner drives and baby sleeps. I've started to love long car journeys!

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

NNCWells Towers's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – it's sublime: unique, hilarious and enviably well written. Simon Van Booy's Love Begins in Winter (read Nuala's review)– a dreamy and sweet literary read. Gerard Woodward's Caravan Thieves – surreal and funny.


Interview about The Wind Across the Grass (2007)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collections?

Nuala Ní Chonchúir: First one, The Wind Across the Grass: This was six years work; I wasn't working towards collecting them. Arlen House had published my first poetry collection in an anthology, Divas, with two collections from established writers; I was the newbie. They then asked to see my stories and decided to do a book of them. Second one, To The World of Men, Welcome: 18 months. I had a prolific splurge. I gave up my job in a Writers' Centre and decided to try full-time writing. I moved to a house in the country and there were fewer distractions there and more time. Arlen House took that one too.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

NNC: No. I don't consciously write in themes, or with a book in mind. I write whatever pops out. But, in retrospect, my first collection was dominated by water and childhood. My second by love-gone-wrong.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

NNCThey say put strong stories first and last, so I tried for that in The Wind Across the Grass. In To The World of Men, Welcome, I wanted the title story first, but my publisher wanted it last. He's in charge, so he won. I left out the stories that I had that I thought were drossy, the ‘so what' ones. Richard Ford calls these ‘minor aesthetic nullities'. I think all writers dread writing a lot of those…

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

NNC: Never. I'm not thinking of anything but the story as I write it, or as it's stewing around in my brain. I'm sure people who generally like my work read some of my stories and think they are stinkers. I do that a lot; I mean, I read a book by an author I love, and don't quite love everything. If I had one reader in mind, he or she might be as fickle as that. It's hard enough pleasing myself, why bring anyone else into the equation?

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
collection, anything at all?

NNC: I suppose, “If you liked it, what appealed to you the most?” And, “Please, if you did like it, tell a friend!”

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?

NNC: Exposing, but not as exposing as when they read my poetry which is generally all about me. The fiction is less personal, more distant, and more satisfying for that. I like making things up! Of course, it's nice that people invest their money and time in your work. A writer I know told me she'd borrowed my book in a small Dublin library. As a lover of libraries, that was thrilling!

TSR: What are you working on now?

NNC: More nasty, funny, sensuous, dark stories; I've a third collection on the way. More melancholic poetry. I'm also translating Cathal Ó Searcaigh's beautiful Irish-language love poems to English for a collection he has coming out. 7

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

NNC: I read ten things at the same time – non-fiction, poetry, little magazines etc.; I tend to dip in and out of collections. Last year I read 34 collections in 4 months when I was on the jury for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award. I took a break from stories for a bit after that and read novels. Stories are irresistible to me, though. My most recent reads include the brilliant Zigzagger by Manuel Muñoz; it's magical and deep and affecting. I'm also re-reading David Constantine's Under the Dam – I love his crisp English and sensuality. And an anthology from The Willesden Herald – New Short Stories 1. There's quite a variety in that – it contains what my contemporaries are writing, and I love the up-to-dateness of anthologies and lit mags for just that reason.