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Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in News from Writers' Week, Writer Interviews | 0 comments

Meet Listowel Writers’ Week Workshop Directors

We know you’re enjoying our Q & A series with our Workshop Directors, so we’re continuing this week and are delighted to introduce Conor McDermottroe, Evelyn Conlon and Mark Granier.

 Conor McDermottroe (below) has worked in theatre, film and TV, featuring in numerous award winning TV and film productions.  In 2009 he directed his first feature film based on his screenplay Swansong – Story of Occi Byrne.  Conor will direct our Writing for Screen workshop.

 Q.        Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

 A.        No, not at all.  I had huge learning difficulties at school.  So I kept a very, very wide berth from writing.  I was afraid more than anything else.  I always wanted to be an actor and I achieved that.  When computers entered my life and I discovered spell check, things changed.  Now I write every day.

 Q.        Who were your early influences?

 A.        My early influences were mainly playwrights and usually Irish: Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, Frank McGuinness.  I was lucky in that from an early age, I got to meet and work with a lot of these people.  One of the first books I read was John B. Keane’s Big Maggie.

 Q.        Describe your daily schedule.

 A.        Coffee by 8am, writing by 8.30.  All the creative writing I do has to be done in the morning.  I break at 11 or 11.30 for a walk and another coffee, then write until 3pm or thereabouts and break for lunch.  Depending on the type of morning’s work I’ve had, I’ll either continue writing or go back to the material I did in the morning and rework.  Unless I’m working to a deadline, I’ll stop at 6 or 7pm.

 Q.        Do you use computer or quill?

 A.        Computer.  And I love the software Final Draft – a must have!

 Q.        For you, what are the highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week?

 A.        Listening to the participants of the workshop reading their scenes on the last morning.

 Evelyn Conlon (below) is a member of Aosdána.  She has published novels and short story collections.  Her last novel, Skin of Dreams was shortlisted for The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award.  Evelyn will direct our Short Fiction workshop.

 Q.        Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

 A.        Not until I was about 9 years old.

 Q.        Who were your early influences?

 A.        In the beginning, everybody who could write, but gradually I became more discerning and of course it was astonishing to finally find writers who wrote characters who resembled some of the people I was interested in, rather than clichéd notions of how Irish people think.

 Q.        Describe your daily schedule.

 A.        I wouldn’t tell the guards that.

 Q.        Do you use computer or quill?

 A.        I write by pen, even though I’m a very fast touch typist.  I think more creatively in the space between an empty page and a pen.  Gadgets get in the way of the right kind of silence.

 Q.        For you, what are the highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week?

 A.        Reading a well written piece – that’s what makes the workshops worthwhile.

 Mark Granier (below) is the recipient of numerous literary prizes and bursaries and has published three collections of poetry.  Mark will direct our Poetry – Getting Started workshop.

 Q.        Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

 A.        I began to discover the pleasure of rhyming when I was thirteen, as a homesick boarder in Ring College in Waterford, where I spent one year.  I used to write jingly little verses and stitch them into handmade books.  When I returned home I largely forgot about the rhyming and might never have taken it further it weren’t for a few guys I know in UCD who started publishing a student poetry magazine called Niamh  when I was about sixteen.  They asked me for something and that’s really what got me going.  The magazine folded after about three issues but I had caught the bug by then.

 Q.        Who were your early influences?

 A.        I think one of the first poems that startled me awake was Thomas Kinsella’s A Garden On The Point, which was in our book, Exploring English 2.  I still remember the first lines: ‘Now it is Easter and the speckled bean/Breaks open underground, the liquid snail/Winces and waits, trapped on the lawn’s light green…’  There was something about his imagery, which was domestic and everyday but also vivid, almost hyperreal, that made a huge impression on me.  Then, when I was sixteen, I discovered this amazing bookshop, The Eblana, at the top of Grafton Street.  Inside, poetry was the Good News; the latest poetry collections were displayed near the door, on the ‘altar’, a set of narrow shelves designed to prop them with their covers facing out, like a display of pamphlets inside a church.  Browsing these shelves I came across, the for first time, such poets as Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney, Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin, Michael Hartnett, and later, from across the water, Philip Larkin’s High Windows. Pearse Hutchinson’s Watching The Morning Grow was also an early influence, as was Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry.

 Q.        Describe your daily schedule.

 A.        After driving our son to school I return home and make some toast and a large mug of coffee.  After this I make a second mug and get down to writing for a few hours.  Often, this consists of revising recent drafts or old work.

 Q.        Do you use computer or quill?

 A.        I carry a hardback notebook for jotting things down or getting the odd first draft, but mostly I use my aging Mac Book; I’ve been using laptops for over a decade now.  I reserve my porcupine quills for protective measures, rebuffing those who would intrude on my writing time.

 Q.        For you, what are the highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week?

 A.        Actually the workshops are the highlight for me.  When Joan McBreen attended one of my courses in 2004 I was initially taken aback; she had published more books than I.  But she turned out to be a terrific participant, encouraging the others with her enthusiasm and excellent feedback.  I also loved driving around the beautiful countryside and of course I’ve enjoyed the readings and talks by marvellous writers, including Paul Durcan and Howard Jacobson.

For full details of these and all our Workshops, please click Workshops

 LISTOWEL WRITERS’ WEEK  LITERARY COMPETITIONS

With less than two weeks to go to the closing date for our Literary Competitions, we would just like to remind those of you who have still not submitted their entries that the Closing Date for receipt of ALL entries is Friday, 1st March 2013.

 For full details of all our Competitions please click Competitions

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