Bay Area Book Festival 2023

Another stellar annual Bay Area Book Festival on offer this weekend. I’ve been holed up for what feels like an age and look forward to catching up with old (and new!) friends while attending as many of these great events as possible. See you there! With thanks to panelists Keenan Norris, PilarQuintana, and Margaret Verble, bookseller Bookshop West Portal, and the generous sponsorship of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

[Graphic by Grace Loh Prasad at The Writers Grotto]

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New Book News

There were dark times I did not think this day would come, but I persisted. I’m elated and grateful to have my second novel forthcoming from TriQuarterly Books. With deep thanks to my editor, Marisa Siegel.

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Irish Book Box Subscription

I’m delighted to partner with Bookshop West Portal and curate their first-ever national book subscription service. I’ll choose six new Irish books of fiction or nonfiction over 12 rolling months and write a letter to go with each title, sharing why I picked it and how I hope the read will also captivate subscribers.

Feel free to let me know about forthcoming titles by Irish and Irish diaspora writers, especially underrepresented voices (LGBTQ+, women, refugees, immigrants, working class, Pavee, writers of color, writers with disabilities/chronic illness). In addition to my picks, my letter and Bookshop West Portal’s website will include recommendations for those titles that make my subscription shortlist.

Already on my radar are forthcoming books from Bono, Emma Donoghue, Colm Tóibín, Claire Keegan, Louise Kennedy, Michelle Gallen, Sarah Gilmartin, Karl Geary, Sebastian Barry, and Robert Harris. Who am I missing?

I’d love you to join me on this reading journey. For more information and to subscribe, go here:

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Bay Area Book Festival 2022

Jane Ciabattari, Moderator. Colin Barrett and Ethel Rohan, panelists.

It was wonderful to participate in the 8th annual Bay Area Book Festival, which was back in person this year, and to see thousands of people show up so enthusiastically for the arts, and in particular books and writing. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to discuss home, exile, belonging, and living and writing from the fractured spaces during my second panel on ‘Short Stories: In Search of Belonging.’

A craft question from a member of the audience asked how to depict not belonging in story: As with everything else in fiction, it’s down to the personal, sensory, precise, and specific details. Ultimately, I think Colin Barrett and I agreed that home is a state of being. Similarly, I think we reached consensus that in determining what a story has to be to be of value, the writer satisfies that answer for themselves with each piece of writing, and the reader in turn satisfies that answer for themselves. It also seems I will never be allowed forget that I told the Westmeath Independent’s editor Tadhg Carey that I was a “queen of uncomfortable stories.” Thanks again to our moderator Jane Ciabattari for her unfailing excellence.

My deep thanks also to Molly Giles, Sarah Moss and Leslie Kirk Campbell for the brilliance they brought to the panel I moderated on ‘Keep Calm and Go Quietly Mad’. The consensus here was resoundingly that the cultural treatment of  ‘madness’ is often biased and careless, and has to be placed within its social and political context (who among us hasn’t unraveled to various degrees, and the extreme pressures keep climbing). Unraveling, breaking down to build back up, can also be necessary and  useful. We were unanimous that keeping calm is often the worst response. Instead resist, and agitate. We were less uniform in our thoughts on whether magic, higher powers, or divine inspiration are possible.

Both events were generously sponsored by Culture Ireland, and were in partnership with Pegasus Bookstore and Eastwind Books, Berkeley.

I remain wholly impressed by the feat that is organizing and fulfilling a festival of this size and caliber. To Cherilyn Parsons, Norah Piehl, and their team, and to the enormous village of volunteers, congratulations and bravo. Now take a well-earned rest.

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As Seen On PBS!

I shrieked. I danced. I gave deep thanks. Thrilled to see my short story collection flashed on national TV. It’s way more thrilling to see what two brilliant minds and beautiful spirits can accomplish together. I highly recommend this 7 minute segment that aired on PBS NewsHour Friday night and featured the extraordinary Wendy MacNaughton, Caroline Paul, and Draw Together Studio.

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Party Time: The Writers Grotto 2021 Authors and Books

Please join us on Monday, January 24 at 5pm Pacific for an update on the Writers Grotto new San Francisco location, Fellowship Program, and Membership details.

It’s also a PARTY. I’m excited to share (virtual) space with my fellow Writers Grotto 2021 authors. Please join us. It has proved especially difficult to launch a book during a pandemic and we welcome some cheer, and cheering!

Zoom Link:

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Laying It Bare

Sitting with Matt Borondy’s excellent questions for Identity Theory Magazine, I realized the personal toll of these past two years is worse than I thought, even though, comparative to those with tangible losses, I’m having a privileged pandemic experience. The interview, in which I discuss writing, living, and struggling, is receiving a lovely response from readers and I’m heartened, and grateful.

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Superb? I’ll take it!

I had no idea this existed and I am silly happy with ‘superb’ being my new favorite word. Thank you so much Goodreads! And congrats to everyone else listed here, including the wonderful Caitlin Horrocks, Te-Ping Chen, R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell (editors), Brenda Peynado, and Haruki Murakami. The collection I’m excited to get to next is LOVE LIKE THAT by Emma Duffy-Comparone.

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With my deepest thanks to the wonderful, extraordinary web that is the writing world.

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The San Franciscan Magazine

Illustration by Karen Chan.

I narrate my story “The Other Side of the World” on The San Franciscan Magazine. It’s about the pandemic, single motherhood, and a renegade sperm bank son. Take a listen (or read) here. The story originally appeared in The San Franciscan Issue 4 (May, 2021) and I highly recommend the entire read, which is rich with excellent journalism, essays, fiction, poetry, and artwork.

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