Reading in Hughes & Hughes

We have yet another reading planned for anyone who still hasn’t heard us or anybody who loved us enough to listen again 🙂

This time we will be reading in Hughes & Hughes in the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, next Thursday 21st June at 7pm. The book will be on sale and wine will be provided, anyone is welcome to drop in an hear us read our stories and poems.

If you just can’t wait till then A Thoroughly Good Blue is already on sale in Hughes & Hughes, right at the front door, you can’t miss it!


Listowel Writers’ Week

Members of our class will be in Listowel for Writers’ Week 2012. Our book will be on sale and on Friday the 1st of June at 2:30pm they will be reading from their pieces in the anthology.

This is will take place in St. John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, which has plenty of space for anyone who would like to listen in. There is a lovely mention about us in the Listowel Writers’ Week Brochure. It costs €10 to attend with an €8 concession.

  • Liz McManus will be reading Excerpts from her novel The Disappeared.
  • Hsiang-En 劉 will be reading her poetry.
  • Malu Bremer will be reading from her short story “After the Tone.”
  • Brent Dougherty Mueller will be reading excerpts from his novel The Children of the End.

Available for purchase

Our Book is Available for Purchase at the following outlets:

Our ebook can be purchased on and kindly recorded several of us reading our stories. These recordings are now available to download for free: A Thoroughly Good Blue Downloads 

So far Zach Hively, reading ‘In the Haus of Broken Toys‘, Katie McDermott, reading ‘Mrs Culann’s Dog‘, Vanessa Baker reading ‘With the Band‘, and Alice Youell reading ‘The Waiting Room‘, Liz McManus reading ‘The Disappeared‘ and Brent Dougherty Mueller reading ‘Children of the End‘ have been uploaded. More will be added over the coming days.

List of shops and distributors for print edition:

Books Upstairs

Charlie Byrne’s

Dubray Books

Hughes & Hughes Booksellers

Listowel Writers’ Week

More to be added soon…

Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s Speech from Cúirt

Cúirt was fantastic, great fun, great festival and great readings from our anthology. Everyone is now looking forward to the launch of the print edition on the 17th May in Trinity College Dublin. The wonderful Nuala Ní Chonchúir launched our ebook last Saturday and has kindly provided us with a transcript of her speech from the night, included below for your entertainment:

A Thoroughly Good Blue

It’s always great to see writers at the start of their journey, though there are some in this anthology who appear to be well on their way. A Thoroughly Good Blue is an exuberant and diverse collection of fiction and poetry from the students on the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity’s Oscar Wilde Centre. It is a multicultural collection, which adds to its rich tone; here are writers who are from, or who have lived in, Ontario, Hong Kong, Missouri, Mayo, The Netherlands, Meath, Colorado and New Mexico. They bring with them to their work all of the exotic words and occurrences of these places. From the spareness of Melony Bethala’s ‘Boat Ride on Lake Pontchartrain’, to the rich prose and slowly delivered beauties of Sara Mullen’s ‘On the Hill of Speculation’, A Thoroughly Good Blue is an impressive gathering of finger-on-the-pulse work.

Humour is provided by John Dodge in ‘Mile High Circus’ with Pickles the clown and a crazy but ultimately kind Mayor. Yaseena McKendry does mystery well in the opening to the novel ‘Winter Trees’; there is a menacing, melancholic atmosphere in this piece – we are at a funeral in chapter one. Liz McManus’s masterful novel extract ‘The Disappeared’ is marked out by assured writing, delight in the natural world, great dialogue, and a beautifully described swan.

A story of a life squandered, by Vanessa Baker ,sees a 12 year old girl brought to her first gig by her brother; this sets the girl up for life as a groupie and, ultimately, regret.

Zach Hively dazzles the reader with a menacing story set in Germany. A little boy falls in love with a woman and wants to rescue her, whether she needs rescuing or not. His mission brings him into a dark, dusty and creepy hostel that is peopled with mutant toys. The language is exuberant – there are lots of lively images such as the clubfooted pigeon whose foot looks like melted plastic, and an old man with ‘wet tissue paper hair’.

I’m a writer who delights in language, I love a good stylist, and I found plenty of that in this book. In Hsiang-En’s poem ‘Monday Morning Tram’ we find ‘like sculpture in an art exhibition, the passengers all look the same’, and in the poem ‘Tsingtao Brothers’, beer ‘softly sputters to kiss the nose / When held close to parched lips.’ Here is a poet who revels in delicate language and apt visuals. Much like fiction writer Malu Bremer in ‘After the Tone’, where a mother loses her unborn baby while saving her daughter from drowning in an ice-hole. The mother goes slowly mad, which makes the daughter leave. The language is stunning in this piece. We have ‘a smile thin as a paper cut’; ‘a necktie the colour of old sweat’; and ‘marzipan light’ that ‘hangs low over the town’ where icicles ‘weep themselves smaller’.

In this anthology there are talking wolves, corruption in a third world country, unreliable narrators who want to be ill, and young girls facing their mortality. We have mythology in the form of a modern day Cú Chulainn in ‘Mrs Culann’s Dog’. As well as in ‘Lament’ by Eimear Ryan, where a group of teenagers entertain themselves by pretending to be banshees by night, keening outside people’s homes. Eerily, the victims often soon die. The narrator lives with her feisty but ailing granny. Granny likes to tell it like it is: ‘Put [the egg] in water,’ she says. ‘If it floats, it’s fucked. Like a goldfish.’ This story is interwoven with the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne – Gráinne was doomed to roam as a shapeshifter, keening her lost love. The banshee game turns sour, however, when the ringleader decides the narrator’s granny is next on the list.

Poet  Eamonn Lynskey looks at life’s big questions: religion and how the earth was made. His poem ‘Early Christian Chronicle’ is a list poem of prayers, Popes and presences. As a teenager the narrator ‘felt the axe descend / and split in two the breastplate of my faith’.

All I can give you is a flavour of what is in this anthology. What you really need to do is buy it, as an e-book or in hard copy, and enjoy it for yourself.

I wish all the writers within the pages of A Thoroughly Good Blue the very best of luck with completing the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity and with their writing careers. May your ink always flow.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Cúirt, April 2012

Reading at Listowel Writers’ Week

This post is by Liz McManus, Excerpts from her novel The Disappeared appear in our anthology.

In 1989 I won the Short Story Award at Listowel Writers’ Week. A proud moment but, to my lasting regret, I couldn’t travel down to Kerry for the award ceremony because a General Election had been called. A friend received the award on my behalf and trundled back to Bray with an inscribed cut-glass decanter with my name on it. I put it on the mantelpiece but it wasn’t the same. I knew I’d missed something special. Life as a politician demands total commitment The writer and political activist, Grace Paley once said, when she was asked why she never wrote a novel “ Because life is the short and art is too long.” That rang a bell with me.

But second chances do come along. This June, other writers and I will be travelling to Listowel, not to receive awards, but to give readings from  A Thoroughly Good Blue. We will be a representative group from the Master’s in Creative Writing Class of 2012 in TCD. We come from the United States, China, Belgium and Bray. We are poets and fiction writers; young writers and not so young.

We will be going to a unique place of literature in Ireland, since Listowel has been the birthplace of an extraordinary number of writers.

For me, it will be a special journey. In my mind I’ll be going to pick up that award and I’ll only be twenty-three years late.

Praise for A Thoroughly Good Blue

Here are some of the lovely things people have been saying about our anthology, it will be launched in May

“It is always a pleasure to welcome good new writing, to celebrate the vigour and freshness and generosity of new attitudes.

“A THOROUGHLY GOOD BLUE is the launch-pad for writers in a creative writing course at T.C.D.. These students have something to say and they speak with skill and confidence. But their circling round the mystery—which lies at the core of their excavations and is the magnet for all writing—is conducted with respect and appropriate diffidence.”

Brian Friel

“Imagination and eloquence characterise much of the fiction and poetry in this outstanding collection. The writers—some already professional and published—investigate the only subject: the nature of being alive, and the quest for clarity in the babble of experience. Within these pages are humour, poignancy, and the dawning of many kinds of truth. The result is luminous work from gifted artists.”
Mary O’Donnell

“These stories and poems, whether in their leaning back into myth, their wandering in Orients and Deep Souths of the mind, their unravellings of childhood pain or their lament over irreligion, are as united as they are modern, by their search for lost origins.”

Harry Clifton

A Thoroughly Good Blue introduces authentic new voices that ask the reader to look again at what might be thought entirely familiar in the sensual world, and that is important work.”

Philip Davison

“An exuberant, rich collection of fiction and poetry, the writing in this anthology soars; from the assured writing in ‘The Disappeared,’ to the menace of ‘In the Haus of Broken Toys,’ each of the writers here offers their gifts to the reader with style.”

Nuala Ní Chonchúir

“Stories and poems that channel the zeitgeist in all its glory and terror, this year’s offering from the M. Phil students of Creative Writing at Trinity is particularly powerful. Every contribution earns its place in a collection that spans imagist poems, traditional short fiction, zany satire, horror fantasy, existentialist fable and tantalizing extracts from longer works. It’s both unpredictable and reassuring: it engages at the simplest and most important level of reading—what will happen next?—and it delights with crafty moves and elegant gestures in language.”

Paula Meehan

“The work here is considered and subtle, involving and moving and often funny. There is a consistent precision to the language and an attention to salient details that makes this collection highly impressive and a pleasure to read.”

Chris Binchy

“The novel excerpts, short stories and poems collected here are eclectic and intriguing, covering life, death and everything in between (by way of myths, clowns and childhood chance encounters). The big moments and the small details are captured expertly, leaving the reader to enjoy and engage with a strong selection of work that is sometimes moving, sometimes funny, but consistently surprising and gripping.”

Claire Hennessy

“Genres twist and collide, poems battle it out against prose, and many vibrant new voices burn up the pages in this strange and hugely engaging anthology.”

Kevin Barry

“The stories and poems of A Thoroughly Good Blue are ablaze with life and the encounter with language. There’s great variousness and an appetite to record sparkles on every page: Don’t miss it!”

Gerald Dawe

Professor Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE and Blackboard Monitor

This post is by Katie McDermott, author of “Mrs Culann’s Dog”

I love Terry Pratchett, absolutely adore everything he’s ever written. When I was about 10 my uncle from Delaware recommended the Dragon Lance books to me. You couldn’t get them very easily here so they used to send them over. Then my Mom got me to read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I began to work my way through my local bookshop’s tiny fantasy and sci-fi section. I read Terry Brooks, Douglas Adams, quite a few of the star wars books but I always shied away from Pratchett because his book covers looked so lurid and out there. I was only beginning to get into fantasy and trying to avoid children’s books because I was ‘all growed up,’ and lets face it, his covers led me to believe that they were for children. But the books were always intriguing. In my bid to be a ‘growed up’ I even read the Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, marginally more disturbing than anything I’ve ever read before or since. Eventually I ran out of other books to read (like I said, they didn’t have much) so I picked up the Colour of Magic and I was hooked.

Professor Sir Terry Pratchett OBE and Blackboard Monitor

A typical Sunday or Saturday back then: Myself, Mom, Dad and my sister walked into town. We’d leave Dad at the square so he could go to the pub and the rest of us would go do the shopping, groceries, clothes, school stuff, whatever we needed. We’d always end with a trip to the book shop. Then we’d join Dad in the pub and me and my sister would sit in the corner reading while the barman gave us free crisps and dairy milks.

It was a small pub, often packed to capacity. I read through all-Ireland finals like that. I read through the hitchhikers guide trilogy of five and a good portion of the discworld. That’s when I stopped trying to be grown up because I knew it didn’t matter at all. Occasionally when I discovered a quote I would run over and recite it to my parents and the barflys that still recognise me to this day but I have trouble telling apart. I’d declare something like ‘Give a man a fire and he’ll be warm for an hour, but set him on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.’ then I’d run back to my corner and keep reading in search of more gems. Terry Pratchett is the reason I write because he taught me the fun you can have with language. He taught me how important it is to imagine how things should be and work towards them.He taught me a lot about people.

His presence as a member of staff in Trinity College was the icing on the cake when choosing to study here. His inaugural lecture last year was brilliant and this year there was a questions and answers session with him and the head of the English Department.



Myself and my friends were sitting in the front row, a meter, maybe a meter and a half from the genius himself. Afterwards there was a wine reception and while a few people monopolised his time, asking questions and that, we still got a picture with him and got to hob-nob over glasses of wine in the same room.

There was a debate in the Phil society the next evening ‘that the house would legislate in favour of assisted suicide for all adults.’ It was absurdly formal and highly entertaining. All the speakers were very good and engaging and responded to audience interjections and POI’s well. It was really interesting and the pro-euthnasia side won, because frankly I don’t think anyone there was going to vote against Pratchett. No-one interrupted his talk, he spoke very softly but you could hear everything he said. He said he’s signed the letter to Dignitas but hopes he’ll never have to use it, he’d prefer a more English death. He spoke about his illness and why he signed the letter and that he’s glad he has it in his top drawer for when he needs it.

But fear not, he  said he has a few more books in him and that he’s in the middle of his autobiography. A few months later he visited again and hosted ‘Unseen University Challenge,’ where the staff went up against the students on all matters Discworld. The Students won even after donating some of their points to the staff members.

He is a great man and it will be a sad day when he does make the trip to Switzerland. No matter what I will continue reading and re-reading the Discworld for as long as I am able to read and write.

Creative Writing Craft Books

This post is by Katie McDermott, author of “Mrs. Culann’s Dog”

I read a lot of creative writing ‘how to’ books, usually gifted to me by well-meaning relatives, but I often find that these books contain the same advice. However, over the past few years, a few have stood out as particularly helpful:

1. On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The first half is an entertaining autobiography and the second half contains some practical writing advice.Very enjoyable to read.


2. The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry

This is the most Useful book on writing poetry that I have read, Fry is as eloquent as ever



3. Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting you’ll ever need  Blake Snyder

Brief, witty and no-nonsense, contains advice on screenwriting that can also be applied to fiction writing.



4. Writing Fiction For Dummies by Randy Ingermanson.

The textbook layout makes it very easy to find what you’re looking for. Good for beginners and the sections on organising and publishing are good for any stage.


5. The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook

Released every year, a useful catalogue of agents and publishers in the UK and Ireland. (it’s not necessary to buy it every single year as a lot of the information remains the same)