Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Niamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce was awarded New Irish Writer of The Year 2012 for her poetry. Her bestselling debut The Herbalist was an Irish Book Award Winner, and nominated for an IMPAC. Her latest book, Her Kind, was based on the Kilkenny Witchcraft Trial and nominated for the EU Prize for Literature.
Twitter: @NiamhBoyce Blog:

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m reading a short story collection, Any Other Mouth by Anneliese Makintosh - I love the voice of this book - it’s fresh, irreverent, funny and tender. A linked collection, it mixes fact and fiction, which is something that has always attracted me. I weave fact and fiction in my own novels. These stories feel like reimagined auto-biography, which is something I’m exploring in some linked short stories I’m working on at the moment. I’m also reading Cuckoo Song by Frances Harding - I love her imagination, her vivid writing style,  and her storytelling, which is out of this world. I’m also reading the latest issue of The Moth, a literary magazine like no other - this latest edition has interviews with Fiona Benson and Sharon Olds. I’m also dipping in and out of Aphrodite's Pen by Stella Fosse, about writing the erotic experiences of older women. Watch this space!   

A book you loved reading at a child.

I have an old Everyman edition of The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It is cloth covered and illustrated and I loved to read it. The novella is as simple as a fairytale, and so lucidly told. A Kindle could never compete with how it feels to hold that small book. And how it will feel to read it to my one day grandchildren. 

Your favourite anthology.

It has to be Bloodaxe Press’s Allelujah for 50 Foot Women - a collection of poetry about women’s relationship with their bodies. It’s edited by The Raving Beauties. My poem - The Beast is Dead, Long Live the Beast, in it - so that adds to the thrill, but it’s a wonderfully powerful collection.  

A book yet-to-be-released which you are looking forward to reading.

Doireann Ni Ghriofa’s Ghost in the Throat promises to be a thrill -  I hear it's a combination of  essay and autofiction, and tells the stories of  two women, a 17th century and contemporary one. Doireann is a brilliant and original writer, her poetry often seems soaked in ancient blood, and yet rises new… I’m also looking forward to Liz Nugent’s Our Little Cruelties; Liz does great villains!  As You Were by Elaine Feeney is another novel I can't wait for. I read all types of books - and often wish book shops were arranged like libraries, with books are categorised alphabetically, rather by ‘genres’ such as crime, literary and YA. I don't want to be catered to, I want to be surprised. 

A book that you feel is underrated and deserves more attention.

Yes, I just loved Pond by Claire-Louise Bennet, it’s a stunning work, more a collection of linked stories than a novel. I’m always recommending it. It’s an interior and scalpel clear depiction of what it is to exist. It’s free from any contrivance of plot, or so it feels to me. I constantly swing, as a reader and writer, to being in love with, and then wanting a break from, ‘Story’. I often adore books that seem the opposite of each other - the so-called ‘plot driven’ versus ‘character driven’. It’s probably a false dichotomy. At the root of every good book is voice, a convincing, compelling and original voice.   

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