Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts!

I may be a day late, but I thought I would ease back in to the blog after a month off with a Bookish and Not so Bookish Thoughts post. Bookish and Not So Bookish thoughts is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous

Last weekend was the inaugural Northern Ireland International Crime Fiction Festival – Noireland – organised by David Torrans from No Alibis Bookshop and held in the Europa Hotel. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend of events. I attended the Opening Reception, where whiskey rather than wine was served, as befits the Noirish theme and then enjoyed a fantastic panel discussion on the TV show Line Of Duty featuring Adrian Dunbar aka Ted Hastings, writer Jed Mercurio and producer Stephen Wright. Hearing about the planning and filming of such a great show was fascinating, particularly the discussion about preparation that goes into the show’s iconic interrogation scenes.

On Sunday I attended a fantastic panel on the fictionalising of true crime with one of my favourite writers Eoin McNamee, along with Craig Robertson and Steve Cavanagh. Fictionalised true stories are one of my favourite genres, so I was in my element as they covered everything from legalities of writing about real people; the dichotomy between being authentic and being convincing and the morality of owning a lock of Charles Manson’s hair!

Noir2 Eoin
Eoin McNamee, Craig Robertson and Steve Cavanagh panel


Viking Vs Celts saw Liz Nugent and Arne Dahl go head to head in a discussion about the comparisons and differences between Scandi and Celtic noir. I have never read Arne Dahl, but plan to now as he was so interesting and thoughtful when talking about his work. Liz talked about how she became a crime writer without even knowing it and read an extract from her new book which isn’t out until next year. If the segment she read is indicative of the rest of the book, I’d say she has another bestseller on her hands!

Liz Nugent and Arne Dahl chat to Declan Hughes

I missed a whole lot more than I managed to attend, but Noireland is a fantastic addition to the literary calendar in Northern Ireland and I do hope it comes back next year!

Although I have been reading quite a lot lately, my blogging has fallen by the wayside a bit. I lay full responsibility for this at the screen of my television as we have been binging on both Mindhunter and The Deuce. Both fantastic shows in different ways, but both completely addictive!  Add to that the return of the trashiest of reality shows – The Apprentice, for which I have an inexplicable love and you’ll get the idea of how I have been spending my evenings! Next up? Stranger Things 2!



I was honoured to attend another launch this week – this time of the fantastic Female Lines – a new anthology of writing by Women Writers from Northern Ireland, published by New Island Books.


It has been thirty-two years since the original anthology, The Female Line was published in Northern Ireland and editors Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado and Linda Anderson have assembled a wonderful collection of short stories, poems, scripts and essays celebrating the formidable crop of women writers working in Northern Ireland today. Readers at the event included Medbh McGuckian, Leontia Flynn and Sheila Wilkinson and the launch celebrated a ‘distinct sense of can-do and a spirit of renaissance’ that currently exists among these very talented writers. I’ll be giving away a copy of Female Lines in the next Reading Ireland Month, so keep your eyes peeled for that!


Last month I was delighted to meet the wonderful and formidable Jennifer Johnston who visited HomePlace to talk about her life and career with Martina Devlin. Jennifer is now 87, but still sharp, funny and incredibly intelligent. It was a delight and a privilege to meet her. If you’ve never read Jennifer, I urge you to. She is one of Ireland’s finest writers and in my mind, one of its most overlooked.


Finally, if you are visiting Belfast, it is well worth taking a trip to the Crescent Arts Centre where a new Poetry Jukebox has been installed! The Poetry Jukebox is a permanent installation which plays host to 20 original poems from a variety of writers living in Ireland, allowing listeners to hear the recordings by simply pushing a button.
It was developed by the Belfast International Arts Festival Artists in Residence, Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus, two fantastic poets in their own right and features the work of Eavan Boland, Michael Longley, Stephen Sexton and Paula Meehan.

Poetry jukebox

It is a fantastic initiative with a wonderful message:

‘Words have power: words change lives. The words most loudly spoken in Northern Ireland are words of hate, sectarianism, racism, bigotry and division; we aim to change the message so that quiet, life-affirming words are not drowned out or silenced nor remain unspoken.’

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I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

27 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Am so envious of the Noireland event (a genius title) and especially getting to hear Dunbar. He did a wonderful interview on BBC radi eaelire this year where he was teased about his new “crumpet”status. He said his family find it hilarious.
    The Apprentice is on in our house too even though it’s nowhere near as good as in the early series. The producers must go out of their way to find the most useless contestants, I wouldn’t want any of the, s my business partner..


  2. Lovely comeback post and welcome back! I wonder what month Ireland Month is and whether it will coincide with me getting to “The Red and the Green” in my Iris Murdoch readalong. That would be handy, wouldn’t it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! I am so envious of your time at Noireland – one day I promise to attend. Thanks for the pictures and for sharing what people talked about. I had never thought about the term Celtic noir, but it makes sense now that you mention it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back! It looks like you had a good month off… you’ve been up to so much fun stuff!
    And I love that poetry jukebox – what I great idea! I hope it catches on like wildfire. 🙂


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