On Thursday 22nd March I was invited, along with a selection of other Irish authors, to read at the inaugural Flash Fiction Armagh event held in the Mulberry Bistro in Armagh City. The venue was beautiful, situated opposite on of the city’s two picturesque cathedrals – hey, why have one cathedral when you can have two, right! 🙂 – and there was a very lively and appreciative and receptive crowd in attendance.
The event was very ably organised by Byddi Lee, who coordinates a writer’s group in Armagh City, and herself grew up in Armagh and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. She has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning to live in her hometown, Armagh relatively recently. She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel, March to November. She is currently working on a trilogy that starts in Armagh in the near future, where the elderly have suddenly begun to get younger with devastating consequences. Byddi also blogs about life, both at home and abroad called, “We didn’t come here for the grass. www.byddilee.com.
The line-up for the first Flash Fiction Armagh event was selected after their work was submitted for consideration and can be seen below:
Jay Faulker, ‘Rain’
Catherine Carson, ‘Spectrum’
Réaltán Ní Leannáin, ‘Dílis’
Damien Mallon, ‘Reading The Trees’
Pamela Brown, ‘Mansfield House’
Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, ‘The Boy Corps of Eamhain Mhacha’
Trish Bennett, ‘Power of a Peeler’
Karen Mooney, ‘A Fond Farewell’
Seán Ó Farraigh, ‘Neamhchiontach go dtí go gcruthaítear a mhalairt’
Christopher Moore, ‘The Dark Hedges’
Malachi Kelly, ‘Scoring in the Seventies’
It was a really, really strong mix of genres and styles including darker fiction, mythology, poetic literature, etc; while I suppose us writers shouldn’t have our favourites – maybe it’s like choosing between our children – for me (even though it was extremely hard as their wasn’t a single weak story in the whole night) I had two stand-out pieces: Karen Mooney’s’ A Fond Farewell’ was a very personal story about the passing of her father but it was told in such a way that it was about the loss of everyone’s loved ones but it never got saccharine or even maudlin, it was celebratory as well as loving. Catherine Carson’s ‘Spectrum’, for me, though was the stand-out story of the night; it told the tale of a moment in time – probably no more than minutes, at most – in the day in the life of a mother and her growing up too fast/too soon/too hard son with autism, but it also told the tale within a tale of that same son when he was still a small child when he looked at her, and really saw her, and how quickly that moment passed. It was a tale of love and struggles, and constant tiredness and never giving up. I adored it. I adored Catherine’s writing. I cannot wait to read more of her work!
One of my sons, Mackenzie, was with me – and persuaded me to let him stay out waaaaaay after his bedtime – and when asked what his favourite part of the night was, or his favourite story was, he just looked at me, wide-eyed, and said three words: “All of it!” Fair to say he enjoyed himself …though you’d think that there’d have been at least some nepotism in there and he might have said ‘Rain’, ey?! 🙂
For me it was only one of a double handful (certainly less than 10) times I’ve done a public reading – more if you include times I’ve spoken about medical matters I suppose but I don’t count them as, unfortunately, they may be science but their definitely not fiction 🙂 – and only the second that I’ve been filmed. I normally don’t even like photos let alone videos but, this time, I just rolled with it (a very dear friend of mine, whose advice I constantly listen to and always ‘try’ to follow …even if I don’t always manage to ‘do’ it … called Mercedes is amazing in front of the microphone and screen and when I interviewed her on the radio I recall she said just ‘be yourself’, and is always just that, she just rolls with things, no matter how hectic – and our lives are ALWYAS hectic 🙂 ) so I’m taking her advice, again, and posting the video of me, my actual face, my actual voice, reading my actual words.
So one more random weird thing: at the reading I read my piece, ‘Rain’, which is about a fireman who is in the middle of a search and rescue operation for two boys lost in a flood; it’s not the happiest of pieces, and told in first person, from the perspective of the dejected, tired, and very cold fireman who is losing hope very fast. I was told, afterwards, that people enjoyed the story and I read well but – and I’m SO glad I didn’t know this in advance! – there was an actual fireman in the audience and he told me he loved it and I’d really captured the feelings and atmosphere well but … someone that could have been the protagonist was there, listening to me talk about him. Yeah, no pressure!!!~
Anyway, here is my reading: