I was asked to take part by Bernie McGill. Bernie is a short story writer and author of The Butterfly Cabinet which was named by Julian Fellowes (creator and writer of Downton Abbey) as his novel of the year in 2012. She was the winner in 2008 of the Zoetrope:All-Story Contest in the US. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Bridport, the Fish, the Asham, the Michael McLaverty and the Seán O’Faóláin short story awards. A short story collection is forthcoming in 2013 from Whittrick Press.
Thanks for getting me involved, Bernie. Here’s everything you need to know about my new poetry collection, which will be published later this year.
1)What is the working title of your next book?
The book is called The Return of the Buffalo. I always find it really difficult to come up with a title that both encapsulates the spirit of the book and makes someone want to lift it up and read it. After a long chat and advice from a fellow poet I decided The Return of the Buffalo – the title of one of the poems in the book – was an intriguing choice. There is a beautiful Native American myth that says that the birth of a white buffalo calf and the return of the buffalo population will herald in a new age of hope and healing, and this is the spirit I hope the poems in the book evoke.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I think all my poetry reflects where I am in my life and what I’m experiencing. I don’t decide to write about a certain thing; I just find myself writing about what is emotionally affecting me at the time.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
This is a new poetry collection. Although it often deals with difficult subjects and emotions, the overriding feeling behind the poems is that anything can be overcome, that there is always the possibility of hope and light in any situation.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is not really applicable for a poetry collection, but I would choose Liam Neeson to represent some of the poems as he can be dark and brooding but also charming and charismatic. I would also choose Juliette Lewis as she has an edgy vulnerability.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
That’s very hard for me to pin down but here’s what it says on the back cover: “While refusing to shy away from painful realities, The Return of the Buffalo is ultimately about the possibility of redemption.”
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book will be published by Lagan Press. Agents do not represent poets as we never make enough money!
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It took 6 to 7 years to write the book. There was a gap in the middle where I was just coping with what life was throwing at me and didn’t have the emotional energy to write as well. But even during this time I was scribbling bits and pieces down in my notebook, so when the time came to write again I had some raw material to work on.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’d like to think it was like A Scattering by Christopher Reid as it’s down to earth, doesn’t shy away from real emotions and will hopefully move people.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What inspires all my writing is the urge to connect with people and to help people realise that we’re all so much more than we think we are. We can survive anything, cope with anything. We have so much strength and love inside ourselves, and if one poem helps one person, then all the hard work was worth it.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
A fellow poet suggested the poems have some of the swagger and resilience of the buffalo, and I loved that idea of the emotion behind the poems mirroring the buffalos’ plight – as close to oblivion as you might ever want to get but battling on and surviving against the odds because tomorrow things may be better.
That’s all from me. Here are the next round of blog-hoppers who will be posting their Next Big Thing on Wednesday 6th February – fellow Irish poets and writers Kevin Higgins, Malachi O’Doherty and Nell Regan.
Kevin Higgins is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events in Galway City. He has published three collections of poems: The Boy With No Face (2005), Time Gentlemen, Please (2008) and Frightening New Furniture (2010) all with Salmon Poetry. His work also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010). Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews, was published by Salmon in April, 2012. Kevin’s fourth collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, will be published in March 2014.
Malachi O’Doherty’s blog is at http://malachiodoherty.com/
Nell Regan lives in Dublin. Her two collections of poetry are Preparing for Spring, 2007 and Bound for Home, 2011, both Arlen House. Awards include an Arts Council Bursary (2010), Fulbright Scholar at Iowa University & UC Berkeley (2011/12) and short listing for Glen Dimplex New Writing, Kavanagh & Strong. She has published non fiction, runs courses for teachers on ‘Creative Writing & Special Needs’ and is resolved to become more web savvy in 2013. See www.nellregan.com & nellregan.blogspot.com