Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a full-time fiction writer and poet. She has published three collections of short fiction, the most recent being Nudeby Salt Publishing and three poetry collections, including the bi-lingualTattoo: Tatu by Arlen House, and most recently one novel, Youpublished by New Island.
Welcome to writing.ie. Could you introduce yourself to the readers please?
I’m a full-time writer from Dublin living in County Galway. I write both fiction and poetry but my heart lies in fiction really. I have three kids and ten hours a week to write so I stuff a lot into those precious ten hours. At the moment I am writing a novel and am at the ‘enjoying it’ stage of that.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child, it grew from my love of reading. I came second in a national poetry competition when I was ten and that gave me a boost and a special interest in writing. Michael Hartnett was the judge of that comp and I remember my mother’s awe and reverence when we met him; it rubbed off.
What do you consider the highlights so far?
Winning the Francis MacManus Award in 2003 was brilliant – the money was great and it was just an all round positive experience. My first novel You coming out last year with New Island, after 5 years of schlepping it around publishers, was also a highlight.
Which came first, poetry or fiction?
Poetry came first for me, but I fell in love with short fiction after taking a course with Mike McCormack in Galway Arts Centre in the mid nineties. I still love short stories, as both reader and writer.
How do you change from one form to another? Do you feel the poetry helps the fiction and vice versa?
I write everything at the same time, I don’t totally neglect one form for another. So even though I am in the thick of a novel, if a poem or short story occurs to me, I will abandon the novel to write that.
I think poetry and fiction complement each other. Poets pay very close attention to language and individual word choices – that then becomes important in the fiction.
What have you got coming up?
My third full poetry collection The Juno Charm is due out from Salmon Poetry in November, so I am putting the finishing touches to the manuscript at the moment.
Which Irish poets, living or dead, do you recommend people search out and read?
Too many to mention but here are a few: Patrick Cotter, Mary O’Donnell, Cherry Smyth, Paul Durcan, Matthew Sweeney, Grace Wells.