DBF Interviews: Peter Murphy

by Admin on October 21, 2014

Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy

Next up in our series of interviews is journalist and author Peter Murphy, whose novel Shall We Gather at the River was published by Faber & Faber last year. A contributor to Dubliners 100, Peter will be at DBF Saturday, 15 November.

Q: Can you explain the genesis of the Dubliners 100 project? How did you get involved?

Lisa Coen from Tramp contacted me about a year ago and told me about Thomas Morris’s evil plan to desecrate Joyce’s legacy, of which I wholeheartedly approved. There was a wee bit of a scramble as authors swarmed all over their favourite stories. I was slow off the mark and got lumbered with the dunce’s prize: a mandate to rewrite (or ‘cover’ in Tom’s parlance), the greatest short story ever written. Ulp, says I. I chewed on the idea of ‘The Dead’ for a while. Then I thought about the idea of Tramp Press itself. Then I took the dog for a walk around the wasteland at Wexford harbour, and I imagined a bunch of hobos sitting around in a sort of war-torn wasteland where the only story left intact was ‘The Dead’, and I imagined the kind of arguments these jackdaw folk might have had around the tar-barrel at night. I sent on a draft to Tramp and they liked it and asked me to extend it. I wrote it for fun, with no thought of consequence. Tramp are brilliant to work with. Total manga warrioresses.

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DBF Interviews: Rob Doyle

by Admin on October 9, 2014

Rob Doyle

Rob Doyle

For our third author interview we talked to Rob Doyle, whose debut novel Here Are the Young Men was published by Lilliput Press earlier this year, about his approach to writing, writers he admires and his plans for the future. Rob will be participating in RTÉ Radio 1’s Arena Live Show.

Q: ‘Here Are The Young Men‘ is very much a novel about Ireland in a particular time: can you give us a brief overview of it and whether or not you think it has anything to say about the Ireland of today?

It’s about four young friends in Dublin who are epically pissed-off and become consumed by drugs, drink, nihilism and recreational atrocity. The novel takes place over a single summer: we watch as Matthew and the others are led into committing acts of cruelty and destruction by the malevolent Kearney, whose chief passions are hardcore porn, 9/11 footage, hash and Grand Theft Auto.

The novel does have a lot to say about contemporary Ireland. Like most novels, however, it offers a particular perspective on the society it depicts, rather than trying to account for the whole thing. The raw material of this novel is casual drug use, hard drinking, confused and excruciating sexuality, the loathing of youth for institutions which have lost legitimacy, suicide, violence, and a pervading sense of nihilistic despair. Not everyone in Ireland thinks much about these things or feels that they constitute contemporary Irish experience, but many do, and they will recognize a familiar social and existential landscape in Here Are the Young Men. For everyone else, there are plenty of sex jokes.

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DBF Interviews: Donal Ryan

by Admin on October 1, 2014

Donal Ryan

Donal Ryan

DBF opens with an evening celebrating Lines of Vision, Thames and Hudson’s illustrated anthology marking 150 years of the National Gallery of Ireland. For our second author interview, we talk to Donal Ryan, who will be one of four contributing authors discussing the project at our opening night.

Q: Can you explain your involvement in the Lines of Vision Project? Was the integration of visual art and the written word a natural one for you?

Janet McLean rang and explained the project and it sounded really interesting. I felt very honoured to be invited to participate. It was just what I needed at the time, too, as I was struggling to get into the swing of short stories. A 1,000 word fictional reaction to a piece of art from the National Gallery sounded like a lovely kick-start. Or a re-start; I’d written a few stories and was unsure about them, and was heading for that old paralysis.

The integration of visual art and the written word seemed completely natural; I’ve always loved the stories in and behind pieces of art. An object in stasis, a single scene, that can represent, or  be in itself, a complete narrative (if narrative can ever be said to be complete) is a magical thing, the power behind its creation almost supernatural.

The first painting that came to my mind as Janet spoke about the anthology was Erskine Nichol’s An Ejected Family. I think I first saw it in a history book in secondary school. It’s got such power, so much going on: the rack-rented homestead, the barely-seen bailiff and his flinging arm, the desultory rain. The three generations cast out, the old man’s resignation, the young man’s defiant pose. What just happened? What the hell are they going to do? You look at the painting, and worry, and wonder about them, and your heart is heavy for them, and the legions like them.

I just got a copy of the anthology in the post yesterday, actually, and it’s an incredibly beautiful thing. Janet’s done an amazing job. I’m planning on buying loads of them for Christmas presents.

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DBF Interviews: Sara Baume

by Admin on September 25, 2014

Sara Baume

Sara Baume

In addition to our Publisher Interview Series, we’ll also be posting interviews with participating authors. First up is the winner of the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award, Sara Baume.

Q: Can you share a little bit about Solesearcher1, your award-winning story? Even though it is set in Ireland, do you see the story as a piece of ‘Irish writing’?

The protagonist is a woman called Phil, and the only other significant character is her father, Phil Snr. The title is taken from the alias she uses on an internet forum for sea anglers. The story is driven by her quest to catch a Dover sole which, even though they’re common in Irish waters, are almost impossible to catch from the shore. There are a few other strands: a sequence of missing dogs, the looming threat of a flooded house. I can’t say I see any piece of writing in terms of nationality, though I expect that everything I’ve written and will write is irresistibly informed by an Irish perspective, even if it isn’t set here.

Q: How would you describe the contemporary Irish literary scene?

The Irish ‘scene’ seems to me pretty lively at the moment; there are some great festivals, journals, independent bookshops and publishing houses. As a ‘young’ writer, there are plenty of opportunities to get work published in some form or another, but it’s still incredibly difficult to sustain a career.

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Volunteers for DBF2014

by Admin on August 15, 2014

As one of Ireland’s most successful and vibrant annual book festivals, we are once again seeking volunteers to help us showcase and support Irish Publishers, authors, and editors, during the different events across our programme.

If you are interested in volunteering with the festival in 2014, please download and complete the DBF14 Volunteer Form here and return to info@dublinbookfestival.com.

We look forward to meeting everyone in November!



logonewFor the second interview in our Publisher Interview Series we talk to Mary Feehan, MD of Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest independent publishing house.

Q: As a publishing house, 2014 marks your 70th anniversary: as well as being a remarkable achievement, this offers you a unique insight into the publishing industry within Ireland. What changes have you noticed during that time? What changes would you like to see in the future?

There have been huge changes in production methods from metal typesetting which is how we set all of our books when I first began to work at Mercier. Printing was a highly skilled craft and typesetters had to learn that craft through a long apprenticeship. Now people can publish their own books online with the press of a button. It’s wonderful that the market has opened up so much but it was sad to see such a craft disappear. There are also many more bookshops and publishers in Ireland now which contributes to a diverse and interesting publishing industry. Thankfully the Irish love to read Irish books so we continue to have a wide audience.

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In the first of our Publisher Interview Series, we talk to the founding Editor of The Stinging Fly Press, Declan Meade.

Q: As a publisher, The Stinging Fly Press has been around for just under a decade now, achieving great success with the likes of Kevin Barry, Mary Costello, and most recently Colin Barrett: what changes have you noticed in the publishing industry in Ireland during that time? What changes would you like to see in the future?

I think publishing is a lot more lively here now than it was ten years ago and this is on account of new publishers arriving on the scene and also, in some cases, new people coming on board at the existing houses. There are now more publishers producing not just more books but a wider range of books. That has to be good for writers and for readers.

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Publisher Interview Series

by Admin on July 25, 2014

This year, in the run-up to Dublin Book Festival 2014, we will be conducting a number of interviews with various authors and publishers, with the aim of giving a better understanding into the workings of the publishing industry in Ireland.

To start with, we will be talking to different Irish Publishers over the next few weeks, showcasing their ethos as a press and asking for their insights into the current climate of Irish publishing and also what advice they would offer to budding authors.

The first of these interviews will be online at the end of next week.


Whenever a critic writes about the short-story form, they seem to always begin by saying, “There’s a dearth of critical study on short stories.” And if we’re comparing them to novels—which always seems to be the case—perhaps it’s true. But if you look hard enough, there’s actually a hell of a lot written about the short-story form. Granted, it’s mostly precious stuff about it being a “higher” Art than the Novel, and then some deathly-dull thing about short stories being connected with the “oral tradition”—but it’s not a critically-neglected form. It’s just a form in need of new critical ideas.

As a reader and writer, I see myself primarily as a short-story person. I become very quiet when I’m amongst a group of people talking about novels and novelists. For a long time, I thought it was testament to something lacking in me—that I surely couldn’t be interested enough in books if I hadn’t read seventy-eight John Updike novels. And the feeling remained for a long time: how could I even begin the journey to identify as a writer if I didn’t read all these books that other people were telling me were so great?

But I’ve had my counselling sessions and I’ve arrived at a belief that feels both banal and true: sometimes we need short stories and sometimes we need novels. Frank O’Connor, in The Lonely Voice (sigh; another reference to that bloody book), speaks of people reading novels to assuage loneliness. In contrast, he says, people come to short stories to confront their loneliness. (A typical O’Connor dichotomy: sensible-sounding at first, but increasingly—and fruitfully—problematic on reflection.) He then goes on to talk specifically about what short stories do and, in trying to characterize their essential activity, he quotes Pascal—“the eternal silence of those infinite spaces frighten me”. It’s a knotty quotation, and one I’ve struggled to understand for a long time.

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DBF at The Dublin Writers Festival

by Admin on May 16, 2014


  • Date: Thu May 22 / 1pm
  • Venue: Smock Alley Theatre
  • Price: €5

We are kicking things off for the 2014 festivities with our short story event with Mike McCormack and Nuala Ní Chonchúir, which takes place at the always excellent Dublin Writers Festival!


For more details about the event, go to http://www.dublinwritersfestival.com/event/mike-mccormack-nuala-ni-chonchuir-the-art-of-the-short-story/