Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silver Threads of Hope:Roddy Doyle, Siobhan Mannion and Declan Hughes with Sinead Gleeson

Silver Threads of Hope, an anthology of short stories by Ireland's most prominent authors has been released in aid of Console.(Festival programme notes.
On Saturday afternoon at the Dublin Book Festival short story writer and Hennessy New Writer of the Year 2011 Siobhan Mannion, author and Booker prize-winner Roddy Doyle and award winning author of the Ed Loy series Declan Hughes, all contributors to Silver Threads of Hope, came together to discuss writing with broadcaster and Irish Times journalist Sinead Gleeson.

Sinead explained to the audience that Silver Threads of Hope had been an idea of the author Anne Enright who is involved with the charity Console and subsequently Sinead had asked 28 writers to give a story to make up this story.


Asked by Sinead just why they wrote Roddy Doyle in his upbeat manner replied that it was because he loved it and because he could do it. Joking he said that he would rather be a professional footballer but was rubbish at football! He said that there was a fantastic feeling when things went well with writing and the other benefit was that you were your own boss. Roddy is now writing more short stories and his most recent is more a series of vignettes. He likes to experiment with form "because I can" and is very disciplined, being at his desk to write at 8.30 and working through to 6pm- a working day. His short story in the anthology 'Karaoke' has it's origins in a holiday to a small town in Spain with friends. They walked into a karaoke bar and a wedding party came in and they all sensed the bristling tension between the bride and groom- they hated each other! Roddy also added that getting older as a writer can be used creatively in your writing.

Declan Hughes said if not writing he would rather be a lead guitarist(!) but admitted there were times in writing when you felt things were not going terribly well but felt that in general writing "innoculates you against something that ails you". He had worked in the theatre first but engaging with the writer was not enough for him; writing gave him a satisfaction that he couldn't be without. Declan hadn't written a short story before writing the one he contributed to the anthology. He humorously added that he had felt that short story writing was like going to India, great if that was what you wanted to do but  that it was of no interest to him and he did not read short stories either. But he recognised that some of the great
detective novels such as Dashiel Hammet were made up of joined together short story scenes. He had been asked in the past to write a short story for an anthology but the request was for one immediately which he could not fulfill but this anthology request had been a good chance, an episode that fitted. He had decided that he didn't want his story to have an oblique style but one with an clear ending to it.

Siobhan Mannion explained that after writing stories as a child, she had only rediscovered writing a few years ago. She commented that creative writing didn't happen for her growing up in England after the ages of nine or ten because in school after this age it was all about study. Siobhan writes solely short stories and has no interest at the moment in writing novels. She explained that she just hadn't had any novel-sized ideas but loves the novel as a reader. If she had a swathe of time she felt she may tackle a novel but at present she was "in love" with the short story.

Sinead added that she felt that the short story was in robust health again, maybe as a result of ereaders,  and editors were again interested in publishing them. The value of literary journals to the short story was discussed as was the value of prizes to help writers such as the Hennessy Prize.

With a Q and A from the audience Sinead wrapped up the lively panel discussion.

Silver Threads of Hope is published by New Island. www.newisland.ie

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