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Looking to Sign The Next Big Thing? New Voices to Watch in 2016

Writing.ie | Magazine | General Fiction
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We’re all about new talent and helping writers grow at Writing.ie – at the start of the year we brought you news of some exciting books heading for the shelves, this week (particularly for anyone whose New Year resolutions to write might be flagging) we’re bringing you news of three new and exciting voices at various stages of their progress – John Connell, Stephanie O’Brien and John Murray. We’ll keep you posted on their progress!

John Connell

My break as a writer came when I was in my early 20s I did a writing class while on exchange at a university in Sydney Australia. The short story called The Little Black was then published in two anthologies in Australia and lead to Picador Australia writing to me and offering me a book deal. The deal turned into my first novel The Ghost Estate which took me four years, as I worked on and off on the manuscript, and was in many ways trying to learn my craft. The book was released in March 2015 and I was nominated in Australia for Best Young Novelist of the Year.

I spend my time between Ireland and Australia (as I have a girlfriend there) when I’m in Ireland I live at home in Longford on my parents farm. It’s currently lambing season so I’m busy delivering lambs it’s a nice break to writing and the sheep and cows are for the most part lovely gentle creatures. When I’m not writing I do a lot of running and swimming and generally keeping fit I’m training for an Iron Man at the moment and find the balance between training and writing really good often a lot of ideas come to me when I’m out running or swimming. (Sometimes I have to stop and write them down before I forget!)
I have spent the last six months working at the coal face on two new novels which I just put the finishing touches to at the end of the year. I’m hoping to see those manuscripts blossom and mature and find their way to a nice publishing house with the help of my new agent Simon Trewin. I’ve also been working in the TV world and have recently developed two new TV shows for a well known network which I’m hoping will move forward to the next round of development so I can spend some time working on them (which would be so much fun!). I’m currently plotting out a neowestern which I’m hoping to work on in 2016, and a novella.
2016 is going to be a big year for me as it’s one I have been working towards for some time, so I’m optimistic and excited for it and to share my work with the Irish and international community – it’s starting well as I have a story, The Birds of June,  in the New Irish Writing issue of Granta out April 21st.
stephanie obrienStephanie O’Brien
I’m a 33 year old writer from Dublin now settled in Bordeaux, France. For five years I lived, studied and eventually worked at Trinity College Dublin supporting young people in financial and emotional need as S.U Welfare officer. I left Dublin for London in 2007 due to the financial crisis and the lack of employment opportunities and then spent the next 7 years working as a personal tutor to the families of TV personalities, while still writing and acting in theatre in the UK. I was fortunate to win several international awards for work in short films, launched JuSt Theatre Company ltd. with fellow TCD graduate Jude Schweppe and self-published my first novel in 2013, which sold out in the UK and Ireland in three weeks.
My latest novel The Beating of Black Wings is inspired by conversations with friends in London who were financially struggling and contemplating selling anything they had to get by, including donor eggs in order to fund studies in the UK, pay debts or simply survive in the most expensive city in Europe. In 2015 I suffered a complicated pregnancy but it gave great scope and a deeper context to what I was writing, so I became a first time mother while still writing this novel about modern motherhood and modern Ireland and was greatly supported in my research by Dr.Ronnie Russell of Trinity, also the Chair of the UN Commission on viral warfare, and Mr Asim Sheikh Bl. State barrister and expert legal council on medical ethics in Irish Law, Evdokia Dimitriadis, the Associate Prof. and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at the Embryo Implantation Laboratory in Sydney aswell as Dr.Walsh the head of the SIMS Fertility Clinic Dublin.
Along with my husband Conor I recently completed a years filming with Channel 4 for a new documentary series for release end of February 2016 following my pregnancy, our new life as expat artists in France and the launch of our own theatre training centre Drama Studio Bordeaux here in the Aquitaine region. Most recently we have secured our first adult cohort of students who are now two months into their 6 month preparatory course in physical theatre and in March 2016 I will begin hosting The Movie Show on Expat Radio France, the first internet streamed Anglophone station reaching up to 200,000 expats and Francophiles across the entire of France and beyond.
I am also returning to my second manuscript, originally written between 2008 – 2012  retitled An Underestimated Man to begin reworking the story with a fresh edit. I’m working with Vanessa to find an agent to help me navigate the publishing world.

John Murray

John Murray

The one thing nobody could ever accuse Russia of being is boring. I’ve spent half my life trying to understand the place. I’ve studied there, worked there as a journalist, written about the country, taught the language, the literature, the politics…
I’ve even tried to paint the place; in short, I’ve done pretty much everything imaginable to try and make sense of Russia, which still holds an incredible pull for me. The one thing I never did was write about the people, something I’ve tried to do in my detective novel, Deadman’s Walk.  Set in a Moscow suffocating in a blanket of smog and the ever-tightening grip of a megalomaniac prime minister, Deadman’s Walk follows tabloid photographer Sasha Raikin as he investigates a series of brutal murders that uncover buried secrets in his own and others’ lives. With the invaluable help and advice of Vanessa Fox  O’Loughlin, and after a lot of re-writes, refinements, re-edits, re-beginnings, re-finishings… re-everythings, the book is now on submission to various publishers via my agent, Ger Nichol of The Book Bureau.  I’m hoping some publishers reading this might take an interest!
(c) Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin
little_bones_b_1 280x420Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin is the founder of  The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and best selling authors to publication. Vanessa conceived and developed the National Emerging Writer Programme for Dublin City of Literature, and was the lead consultant and presenter for  WritersWebTV bringing free, live, online workshops to writers worldwide. Vanessa is the Chair of Irish PEN and the Irish and Eurozone Adviser to The Alliance of Independent Authors. Listen out for her writing slot on Sunshine 106.8fm’s Saturday Morning Show.
Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. She is represented by Simon Trewin at WME and writes crime as Sam Blake. The first of her Cat Connolly thriller trilogy LITTLE BONES will be published by Bonnier’s Twenty7 imprint in May 2016.
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