How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collections?
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?
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?
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?
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
anything at all?
I suppose, “If you liked it, what appealed to you the
most?” And, “Please, if you did like it, tell a
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
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?
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