Q&A with Patricia O’Reilly: 2-Day Short Fiction Workshop Director

Patricia O’Reilly has worked as a freelance feature writer for newspapers and magazines and is a creator of novels, short stories, radio documentaries, plays and scores of Sunday Miscellany pieces. Her non-fiction titles are Writing for Success, Working Mothers:  Earning Your Living from Home, Writing for the Market, and Dying with Love. Patricia’s recent novel The Interview received rave reviews and tells the story of Irish designer Eileen Gray’s meeting with rising star of Fleet Street Bruce Chatwin.  A Type of Beauty was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Award 2013. She is currently working on the fascinating story of Mary O’ Connor, inspiration for the Rose of Tralee Festival, and set in 1840s Kerry against the backdrop of Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal politics.

We’re delighted that Patricia will again be directing our 2-Day Short Fiction Workshop  during the mornings of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June 2015 at Listowel Writers’ Week.

Writing for SuccessQ. What do you most enjoy about Listowel Writers’ Week?

A.  The coming together in one place of a diversity of writers from all over the world; the chat, discussions and debates on writing and books; the way creativity seems to stalk the streets; the programme of events. I could go on and on…..

Q. Were you interested in writing from  a young age?

A. Yes, for as long as I can remember I dreamed of having a book with my name on its cover for sale in a bookshop.

Q. What book or writer influenced you most?

A. I don’t think I’m ‘influenced’, or ever have been, by either books or writers. Hugely because of the writing courses I run in UCD, I am interested in contemporary fiction, particularly works that are nominated for or win awards. I’ve recently read Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  Before that it was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and Liz Nugent’s debut novel Unravelling Oliver was a great read.

Q. What are you currently reading?

A. Catherine Dunne’s The Years that Followed and Hilary Fannin’s  Hopscotch.

Q. Do you have a daily writing schedule?

A. Yes, when I’m writing the first draft either 1000 words or two hours at the desk – whichever comes first. When I’m researching it’s as long as it takes and when I’m editing prior to submission, it’s 24 hours a day on the job.

Q. Who are your favourite contemporary writers?The Interview

A. The list is huge, I devour books and am particularly interested in debut novels: William Boyd, Anne Enright, John Greene, Emma Healey, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, Edna O’Brien and Donna Tart.

Q. You write both fiction and non-fiction. When writing fiction, do you tend to work on it exclusively or do you manage to work on non-fiction projects simultaneously?

A. I started by writing non-fiction books – it was a natural progression from writing newsprint features and making radio documentaries. My last three books have been historical fiction. As I do periphery things associated with writing – such as courses in UCD, online mentoring, editing, etc., I only work on one major book project at a time.

Q. Where do you see the future of publishing going over the next few years?

A-Type-of-BeautyA. It’s hard to know. But probably a further marrying of the traditional print book with digital downloads. When travelling it’s handy to have downloads on Kindle/iPad but nothing beats the tactility of a print book. I remember the nuances, details and fine writing of print-read stories better than screen-read.

Q. What’s your favourite writer quote?

A. I can’t do better than Stephen King’s: “I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”

Q. What do you think are the main benefits of attending a 2-Day Short Fiction Workshop?

A. Successful modern fiction is constantly changing. Two days and a block of several hours gives writers an opportunity to put into practice the writing skills and tips that I’ll be suggesting

Q. What will you be covering this year?

A. Tips and suggestions for Plotting, creating page-turning Characters, effective Research Methods, Background/Location/Era, Back Story etc.

For more information or to book Patricia’s workshop, please see below: