Festivals, manuscripts & embracing autumn

I’ve been home since September 1st and Iceland now feels like a lifetime ago. However, my Icelandic residency did exactly what I’d hoped; it gave me time to play around with some new ideas, get some samples of each to my agent, and decide on my next projects. My visit also gave me the chance to write a double spread for the Irish Times on visiting Reykjavik on a budget, which you can read here. 

FullSizeRender (81)I’ve been quiet since getting back as I’ve been working away on these new ideas – the residency has had such a really positive impact. I also spent a wonderful week at the Children’s Books Ireland Conference which is like an early Christmas party for lovers of children’s books; librarians, teachers, booksellers, publishers and authors all come together to celebrate the wonderful world of children’s fiction. It’s such a happy, friendly event and gives a real boost as the seasons change and the nights draw in.

And yes, I did mean ‘projects’; I’m working on two new manuscripts as I find it more interesting and motivating when I’m working on several projects at a time, especially when they’re different. And these projects are extremely different. One novel is the first of a middle grade (potential) series and the other novel is an adult fiction standalone.

I don’t talk about my writing in progress because it kills it dead for me and I rarely know where I’m going in the early stages, so I don’t have anything to say about them except that I’m excited. I’m out of contract now so who knows where they will lead; it’s the beginning of a long journey, but watch this space.

IMG_2825As of Sunday, however, the new manuscripts are on pause until November 1st. There are two reasons behind this; the first is that the proofs for The Book of Revenge – Nine Lives Trilogy 3 have arrived, and I have to read through very carefully to make sure there are no mistakes because next time I’ll see it, it will be an actual book. This one was the most difficult book to write yet, so I’m feeling really relieved and really happy to see the proofs arrive.

The second reason is that Children’s Book Festival in libraries across the country of Ireland is about to begin. It’s an amazing initiative and I’m thrilled to be taking part again. It’s a real highlight. I’m booked out for the whole month for solo events, joint events with Alan Early and a brand new theatre event with Caroline Busher. I feel really lucky to have these two writers that I really respect as friends and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them, visiting hundreds of children to celebrate stories and creativity.

October is a tiring month and with my freelance commitments, there isn’t much time to write. But it’s such fun and so rewarding, I look forward to it every year. I’ve tried keeping up my writing in previous years and usually end up failing to keep up with my expectations and feeling miserable about it. I’ve decided it’s best to put all my energy into the events. No one wants to be booed off stage by hundreds of children!

timeleapAnother great piece of news is that the Arts Council of Ireland has awarded me a bursary to enable some concentrated writing time. That means I have three months where I can concentrate solely on my books, so I’m going to take some time out over winter – the idea was initially three consecutive months but I’m now thinking three separate months might be best – to really plough into those new books. It’s such an honour to be awarded the bursary, and it really means a lot.

And so, I’m embracing autumn and looking forward to all the fun things in store. There are things already in the pipeline for next year, but I’ll reveal more about those when I know more. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to festival shenanigans, then hunkering down in the West Cork winter, sharing my time between writing and walking (I recently wrote a piece for The Southern Star about the impact of walking on health and creativity you might enjoy), to bring new stories to life.

How’s your own writing/creative project going? And are you enjoying the change in season? What are you looking forward to this winter?

New writing, articles, interviews & events

The Book of Learning by E.R. MurrayIt’s been pretty busy over the last month, so here are a few bits you might have missed, and details of some upcoming events…

New Writing

I recently received my contributor’s copy of the beautifully produced ‘The Ogham Stone’ – if you get your hands on a copy, you can read my short story Landscape of Mirrors (print version only). They are also looking for contributions for their next publication. Details here (Nov 12th deadline).

Articles

I wrote an article for the bible that is the Writers & Artists handbook all about how to Stay Motivated and Write Your Book.

Also, my article in the Irish Times discusses how moving to Ireland drove me to become a writer.

Over on Girls Heart Books, I discuss the importance of finding your tribe.

And for writing.ie, I contributed an in-depth explanation of how The Book of Learning came to be – the What, When, Where, How, & Why.

Interviews

I was delighted to feature in the Beginners Pluck column in the Irish Independent, which you can read on Sue Leonard’s website if you missed it in the paper.

The Looking Glass magazine got to grips with The Book of Learning with lots of questions about childhood reading, current influences, writing technique and what to expect next…

Over on Clockwatching, Sinead O’Hart let me pick my own movie cast and also looked at writing rituals and my next book, Caramel Hearts (March 2016)

The quirky Teens on Moon Lane 5-4-3-2-1 interview allowed me to rescue Jon Walter and Louise O’Neill from a burning bookcase, while taking Sarah Webb on a desert island…

Middle Grade Strikes Back looks at my journey to publication, literary characters to go on holiday with, and my writing day.

There have also been a few radio interviews; Brenda Drumm of KFMradio, also Sunshine Radio, and Barbara Scully’s The Hen House. I’ll add podcasts when I can!

Upcoming Events

I’ve had a wonderfully warm reception from schools and libraries in Castletownbere, Skibbereen, Schull and Bantry as part of the Children’s Book Festival; with Dunmanway and Clonakilty still to come.

I’ll probably dedicate a whole post to this on its own, but I’m really happy to announce a 3-hour Gothic Literature for Teens workshop in Ardagh, County Longford, at the end of this month as part of their Fright Fest – full details here!