Thursday Taster #2 come from Peter Sheridan’s memoir, Break A Leg which we published in december 012 to great acclaim. Peter has since been touring a one-man show based on the memoir to even greater acclaim and if you don’t believe us, why not read review in The Irish Times and The Buffalo News (USA). Enjoy, we think this piece reflects Peter’s incredible turn of phrase and ability to paint a scene!
Some time ago, we had the idea that it might be nice to share a little audio with you once a week. A short reading from one of our new, classic or forthcoming books. We’ve been talking about it in the office for ages and ages and ages.
As with all these things, one never quite gets the time to make it actually happen. So, we decided to just DO IT! And hence, today on Thursday 9th May 2013 we have the first of our New Island Thursday Tasters. We are starting with a short extract from Theo Dorgan’s Making Way, his first novel and a beautiful piece of writing to boot. We hope you enjoy it.
We had a great launch in Hodges & Figgis on Wednesday 23rd April for Paul O’Brien’s Shootout: The Battle for St Stephen’s Green, 1916. To celebrate the book’s publication we’ve decided to offer ot at the very special price of €9.99 during the anniversary week of the rising 24th April-3rd May! CLICK HERE TO BUY
Darragh McManus wrote a really great review in the Irish Independent on 6th April, 22013:
The first piece of advice any good writer gives to a wannabe is: read as much and as widely as you can. Bogmail was clearly written by someone who has read a lot. And for us, there’s the added pleasure of a great book set in Ireland: the familiarity enriches its universal themes.
Bogmail has an appropriately ambiguous ending – it chimes with an earlier scene, where a piece of music reminds Roarty of life’s fundamental uncertainty – but there’s nothing ambiguous about the sheer brilliance of this novel. Like a disinterred bog body it’s now enjoying a second life; maybe there is justice after all, in art if not law.
It’s incredibly positive (and we think well warranted) and compares, Patrick to some pretty amazing writers. Do have a read, and of course buy the book in print or in epub (coming soon) or for kindle!
The basic concept behind New Planet Cabaret is Inspiration. Given access to a sizeable national radio audience, how many people could I provoke into creativity with an attractive and suitable overall theme, clear advice, stimulating prompts and, above all encouragement? I knew many who participated in the project would already be practicing writers and have professional writing ambitions, but I also hoped to involve people who had never written and had no inclination to make a writing career but just wanted to participate for the fun and pleasure of it.
I’ve learned over many years of teaching creativity and creative writing to all kinds of people in all sorts of places that everyone can get a release from being creative, everyone can enjoy it. Creativity is a human inheritance, as deep and wide and as fabulously various as the species it generates and which generates it. New Planet Cabaret is about encouraging creative diversity in both emerging professional practitioners and in members of the wider public whose creativity has, for many different reasons, been less encouraged, less well facilitated, less well-developed.
Arena on Radio 1 is beloved by listeners and contributors alike for its encouragement of emerging artists and new work. I came up with the concept for New Planet Cabaret while bouncing ideas around with Nuala O’Neill, the very receptive series producer for Arena. If emerging contemporary artists in Ireland have a guardian spirit, it’s Nuala. She, along with the rest of the Arena team, has made a historic contribution to culture in this island by creating a broadcast outlet for a new generation of performance and audience-focused artists who are creating work across and between the disciplines of song, stage, and story. Hundreds of songwriters, poets, rappers, storywriters, playwrights, (and some who are all of these things) have received a boost to their careers and a challenge to their talents by the invitation to try to make themselves heard and understood on Arena.
In the main, they have risen to the challenge, producing work – broadly speaking – in the proud vein of experimental populism, work that is innovative and relevant, challenging and comprehensible to Arena’s large, varied, intelligent general audience. Because of its commitment to fostering new work in the living arts, and to helping realise the artistic dreams of the young and unfettered, Arena has managed to post significant gains to the size and reach of its audience, a fact recently reflected in its move from a 7.30pm to a 7pm slot on prime time radio.
I felt, and Arena agreed, that it was time to reflect upon and highlight this very fruitful and perhaps unique collaboration between a popular radio programme and an artistic generation by time-honoured means of an anthology. We would commission wordsmiths of all stripes whose work has enriched the airwaves through Arena to provide us with new work in the thematic ambit of New Planet Cabaret. Given New Island’s long standing record of supporting new irish writing across a range of genres, it felt natural to both Arena and I to approach commissioning editor Eoin Purcell to collaborate with us on bringing the project to print.
Alongside the collaborative eclecticism of our cabaret generation is a welcoming inclusiveness, an openness to the contribution of all who show an interest, with the minimum of fuss and bureaucracy. This is reflected in the open mic tradition, which is in bloom around Ireland all year round, whatever conditions are like on the outside. To ensure we incorporated this aspect we decided to throw open a section of the anthology by means of a free, monthly creative writing competition. We could also use the competition, and the buzz created around the project in general, to make that creative educational experiment of a writing workshop over the airwaves.
Over 500 people have taken part in the on-air workshop by submitting pieces to the monthly prompts. Many have submitted to multiple prompts. Others have written to tell us that they are following and enjoying the course without feeling the need to submit. As is appropriate to a large-scale public education initiative everyone can take part at their own pace and in the way they are most comfortable with. 500 people is 50 average sized creative writing groups, the equivalent of having a course ongoing in every reasonable sized town in Ireland. I am particularly pleased with the high level of involvement of people from rural Ireland, and also by the elderly, two categories of people who may find accessing (and perhaps also affording) creative writing classes difficult. The educational experiment is a success.
In the Autumn New Island will publish The New Planet Cabaret Anthology including the work of the commissioned writers alongside a sizeable section given over to the very best of our competition entrants. It will be the first attempt to bring to print and to radio an anthology in the explicitly cross-genre or even Trans-spirit of the generation of collaborators, hybridisers, experimenters, and mutual inspirers I’m so happy and proud to be a part of. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, New Planet Cabaret is going to include the living work of some of ‘the best minds of our generation’. Watch out for it.
There’s still some time for you to be a part of it. For April I’m sending out an open submission call for writing in any genre, in any style, on any topic. Send your entry, of maximum 700, marked New Planet Cabaret to email@example.com by midnight on April 28th.
Dave Lordan will be giving free writing advice along with Colm Keegan at Blanchardstown Library from 5pm to 8pm on Tuesday April 16th as part of the Heart in Mouth Community Writing Festival. Book your place through firstname.lastname@example.org
The folks over at the Dublin Review of Books have a very nice method for offering first flush reviews of books, pulling out nice extracts. We’ve had quite a few of our books listed there in the last few months and we thought it was time to link to them!
In order of publication from most recent to least recent:
A fascinating piece over on The Dustbin of History touching on the relative merits of history and historical fiction. It’s alive in our minds because of the recent and future historical crime novels we publish, well worth reading the full piece and you have a four day weekend to do it over!
Perhaps what makes its popularity so terrifying to some historians is that its medium is the same as theirs – it comes in the form of a book; unlike a graphic novel, a comic strip or a film, historical novels are, much like popularly written history itself, widely and readily available to the reading public in their local bookshops. Perhaps it also derives from a feeling that style and substance are an either/or decision – the historical novel a case of style over substance – a view that sees these qualities as mutually exclusive rather than one being contingent on the other, and much academic history writing is the poorer for this jaundiced view of style.