Love: Writer & Journalist Lucille Redmond on her short story collection
Writer and journalist Lucille Redmond’s new ebook of short stories is striking and powerfully descriptive.
Journalist, writer and winner of the Hennessy Awards Lucille Redmond has just brought out an ebook of short stories entitled Love. Displaying marvellous descriptive dexterity and imaginative flair, this sometimes surreal, always striking and experimental book of stories explores many varieties of this thing we call ‘Love’. It offers us a very memorable and highly original collection that lingers long after it is read. I’m happy to have Lucille Redmond join me to talk about her literary career and fascinating current and future projects.
Tell me about your background in creative writing. How long have you been writing fiction?
I wrote my first story in 1975 – The Shaking Trees, which was published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Press, then edited by its founder, David Marcus. It won the Hennessy Award that year, judged by William Saroyan. In the next few years I had stories published in The Transatlantic Review, Cyphers, The Salmon and other magazines. A book of stories, Who Breaks Up the Old Moons to Make New Stars, was published in 1978, and won an award from the Irish Academy of Letters. I got a bursary from the Arts Council that year, and continued to write, and had stories published, in The Irish Times, for instance and in various anthologies of stories, in the succeeding years.
What kind of fiction do you write and what are your favoured themes if any?
Only a reader can say that. In terms of themes, I suppose the title of this collection, Love, and its nuanced sense, give some clue to the themes of these particular stories.
What are your influences as a writer? Is the work of others or interests in general?
I’ve always read without stopping, and have worked as a book critic for various newspapers, including a light-hearted book review column for the Evening Herald for a few years; for that column I spotted new best-sellers – had a lot of fun doing that. I love reading modern writers, especially people like Tana French, Claire Keegan and Christine Dwyer Hickey, for instance.
Influences – all kinds of people. Joyce for language, obviously; what Irish writer isn’t influenced by Joyce? Yeats for the discipline, and for sentimental family reasons – my great-grandfather was the Yeatses’ family lawyer and a good friend of Jack and WB Yeats’s father, John.Fitzgerald for insight. Kawabata for feeling. A bunch of thriller writers for plot.
Why have you decided to bring out the ebook?
I haven’t even thought of approaching publishers; it seems to me that it would be a waste of time to look for a publisher, or even an agent, for a book of stories. The next book, maybe, if this goes well.
How do you think ebooks and self-publishing fit in with the changing nature of publishing today?
Ebooks and the internet give people a chance to find their own readers – on the other hand, you have to be good at publicity and marketing for this, and many writers are not.
The ebook model gives writers a better chunk of the price of a book, usually, at the moment, without the backup of a publisher’s publicity machine, newspaper reviews and so on. This may change – columnists like yourself are the wave of the future. Ebooks also give land publishers a chance to see what a writer’s work is like in book form, which can result in publication with a canny talent-spotting publisher.
Tell me about Love. How did the book come about and over what period have you been writing the stories?
Love came about through a friend whose novel I was reading before he e-published. He loved my work, and suggested that I should publish my stories as an ebook. The stories have mostly already been published elsewhere, but they’re newly collected together. This is the first publication for And the Green Sea Ebbs Away, for Glitterati and for Wolf and Water. Love was published in The Irish Times in 1984, and in Modern Irish Stories from The Irish Times in 1985. Our Fenian Dead was published in The Deed in 1993, in The Brandon Book of Irish Short Stories in 1998, and in translation in Irlandesi, edited by Paolo Proietti and published by Sellerio editore, Palermo, in 1999. The Sanctuary Keeper was published (in an earlier form) in The Irish Times in 1985. Fish was published in Krino in 1994. Elsewhen was published in The Salmon in 1987. Affect and Repression was published in Bananas in 1980.
Choose one of your favourite stories from the collection and tell us about it.
And the Green Sea Ebbs Away is set on a planet originally inhabited by people who mainly live in the sea, but now shared with people from Earth who have been genetically engineered to be able to live and work in sea and on land. It’s the story of a judicial killing, and it’s based on an 18th-century case in Ireland.
What other projects are in store for you?
I’m working at the moment on a thriller; you might call it a financial thriller, though it’s kinder. In parallel, I’m working on a short book about my grandfather, Thomas MacDonagh, who was one of the seven leaders of the 1916 Rising, and my grandmother, Muriel, and her sister Grace, who married Joe Plunkett an hour or so before he was executed, and what happened to my mother Barbara and my uncle Don after their parents’ death. It’s a book about revolution, and what it means.
Alison Wells runs the Random Acts of Optimism blog and lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow with her husband and four children. Her short fiction been published in many magazines and online and print anthologies and she has been featured on Sunday Miscellany. Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, Bridport and Fish Prize's she has just completed a themed short story collection Random Acts of Optimism and a literary novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities. To read Alison's full blog, visit Head Above Water. Find out in her Random Acts of Optimism how she manages to juggle writing, children and life.