A close-up of the week’s prime writing blog posts, rounded up from the green, green grass of t’internet. Am I milking this whole herding thing too much? Time to put it out to pasture, possibly…
The mystery of Joanne Clancy and the purloined books
I regularly listen to a podcast by three writers who are at a similar stage to me. Usually they discuss how their respective writing week has gone, interspersed with the occasional snippet of writing news. This week’s episode of The Irish Writers’ Podcast was given over to discussing a very odd story that was doing the rounds recently.
Eilis O’Hanlon and Ian McConnell, two crime novelists who write together under the pseudonym Ingrid Black, were contacted by a keen-eyed stranger who believed that another writer (Joanne Clancy) had plagiarised one of their books. Clancy had changed details like character- and place names, but basically transcribed the story line for line. On closer inspection, it seemed she had a large body of work on Amazon and Goodreads, which had earned a considerable amount in royalties. There followed an extraordinary cat-and-mouse chase which was described in O’Hanlon’s feature The Girl Who Stole My Book for the Independent last month. It’s an astonishing tale that still seems to be ongoing, with no one knowing who this Joanne Clancy actually is.
The podcast episode is well worth a listen, particularly as they discuss (with great animation!) how galling it is to think that someone would take credit for other writers’ hard work (Clancy even went so far as to take part in a Q&A where she talked about her ‘process’). There’s also that worrying vulnerability when you put your work out there – the internet is such a vast, anonymous place that it’s all too easy to have your words stolen without even knowing it’s happened. And then there’s the fact that this person hasn’t been held accountable in any way. She has simply disappeared into the ether. It’s like the plot of a thriller, in fact.
Susan Lanigan Q&A
An interview with romance novelist Susan Lanigan was everywhere on my Twitter feed this week. Her first book, White Feathers, a love story set against the backdrop of WWI, is going down a storm and was shortlisted for Romance Novel of the Year 2015. She talks very candidly about her path to publication, the helpfulness of awards placings and the current landscape for female writers in Ireland – about which she isn’t afraid to speak her mind:
“There’s a very rarefied, literary strain of prose that gets a lot of kudos while many genre writers are ignored. I know they are ignored because they tell me so. This is not just a woman problem. This is a problem with fear, conservatism and a too-narrow concept of what fiction is.
“I enjoy reading a lot of individual works by Irish female authors, but there is no point celebrating Irishwomen’s literary excellence in toto if we’re going to exclude everyone who writes plot or didn’t go to college” – Susan Lanigan
I do look at my own writing sometimes and think how epically far off the level of, say, Anne Enright or Sarah Baume it is. So it’s refreshing to have a reminder that not everyone has to write in the same way.
We’re spoilt for choice with the number of literary festivals that take place on our small rock. Coming up in the next few months alone are Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, (17-24th April), the Waterford Writers Weekend (5-8th May), the International Literature Festival in Dublin (21-29th May), the Wexford Literary Festival (27-29th May), Listowel Writers’ Week (1-5th June) and the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry (17-23rd July).
Next week, I’ll be attending a few of the free workshops and talks on offer during Cork World Book Fest (19-23rd April). It’s amazing that these events are right there on offer to help nurture aspiring writers. There will also be readings and panel discussions with the likes of Kevin Barry, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Louise O’Neill.