Wexford Literary Festival #Wexlitfest17 ? ? ?

This is my attempt at describing a wonderful experience at 2017 Wexford Literary Festival!

We drove down to The Wexford Literary Festival, in Enniscorthy, after work on the Friday. After getting stuck in traffic in Killeagh for 45 minutes, we eventually made it to our resting spot for 2 nights. We stayed in the Slaney Suites, part of Treaceys Hotel, which was reasonable and very central. After some quick refreshments (in the form of food and a beverage) we made it to the opening night!

The One Act Play Competition

We made it to the Presentation centre just in time for the One Act Play competition. Each of the four shortlisted plays was performed by the excellent actors of the Enniscorthy Drama Society.  Isherholz Calls by Jay Phillips opened up the evening’s proceedings. The judges had a tough job as all the shortlisted entries were worthy winners. I couldn’t pick between my favourites – Pitchfork by Kelby Gilfoyle and  Nicola Cassidy’s play, Chop! The winning play, One Solitary Line by Neil Walden was extremely clever and entertaining. The night was a great introduction to the events of the festival to come.

Readers and Writers Day

The Readers and Writers Day kicked off early on Saturday with a quick opening speech from the enigmatic Carmel Harrington, along with a plentiful supply of tea, coffee and biscuits. The committee members introduced themselves to us and we we felt welcome immediately. It was great, yet slightly nervewracking to put faces to the Writerswise and Twitter folks that I had only met online up to this point.

Non-fiction Panel

Wexford Literary Festival

The non-fiction panel kicked off with Shane Dunphy, Andrea Hayes and Louise Hall. The talk was fascinating and taught me a lesson that I should not rule out non-fiction books from my reading pile!

I can’t wait to read Shane’s upcoming fiction novel ‘After She Vanished’ and the audience were moved by his stories from his ‘Miserylit’ books- his term! Keep an eye out for one of his books which is being made into a feature film!!

Andrea Hayes was humble and kept telling us that she’s not a writer, despite having published two bestsellers! I’m not the type of person who reads motivational books usually, but after hearing Andrea speaking, I ran straight to buy her book ‘My Life Goals Journal.’ I’m using the audio hypnosis and writing in the journal and have already achieved one of my small goals, thanks Andrea!

Despite not being religious in the slightest, Louise’s book about different people’s stories and their pilgrimages to Medjugorie intrigues me. The nosy side in me loves the human story. The panel melded together wonderfully with facilitator Sheila Forsey at the helm.

The main take away points from this panel were:

  • Write what you want to write. 
  • If you’re interviewing people use a tape recorder 
  • Do what you love and love what you do
  • If you’re telling a real person’s story get their permission

Crime Writers Panel Discussion

Next up was a juicy panel with crime writers Alex Barclay and Michael O’Higgins. They gave us an insight where the gruesome and scary ideas in their books come from. Michael draws mostly  from real life inspiration and regaled us with tales of real life criminals in Dublin.  Alex isn’t sure exactly how the ideas come to  her but has been reading True Crime since she was a teenager.

Next, they moved on to that ‘Killer First Line’ that crime writers are so well known for. Alex advised writers to bring as much magic as possible in the first sentence while also setting the scene for the story. Michael didn’t give it a a huge amount of thought but agreed it was important for setting scene place and character. It was great to listen to the two crime writers spilling their bloody guts to curator Adele O’Neill (who signed a three book deal herself earlier this year!)

The main take away points from this panel were:

  • Don’t get caught up in the ‘how to’s of writing 
  • Write what you can find out and don’t be afraid to ask people for help with research (but do give them credit) 
  • Trust your story, and trust your gut 
  • You can be gruesome anywhere

Publisher Q&A

Before the break for lunch was an insightful chat with publishers Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff of Tramp Press, moderated by the lovely Caroline Busher. Lisa and Sarah met while they were competing with each other as interns in Lillyput Press. They seem like a force to be reckoned with!

They shared their dream submission with us… I shouldn’t tell you……………….. Well…………………………………………………………………………… Maybe……………………………. OK……………………… It’s brilliant Irish Sci-fi (which I think everyone who was in the room is now trying to write!)

They only publish two or three books a year from exceptional writers. The two wonder woman look after all aspects of the business between them. They’re always looking for diverse writers and be prepared for questions on your influences if you submit to them.

The main take away points from this panel were:

  • When making submissions, follow the guidelines and address the individuals.
  • Expect to be rejected, but keep at it – www.litrejections.com is a great resource for writers. Always be writing the next thing.
  • Do it for the love of writing.
  • Write an exceptional Irish Sci-fi novel and submit to Tramp Press 😉

An Evening in Conversation with Carmel Harrington and Sinead Moriarty

The highlight of the weekend was definitely the gin tea party in the magestic Enniscorthy ? Castle. Sitting down listening to the charismatic Carmel having an intimate friendly chat with the thoughtful and honest Sinead was nothing short of magical.

Gin served from teapots by two fine gentleman in their finest, added a touch of utter elegance to the evening, and helped everyone feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Carmel and Sinead shared personal stories, how they began their writing careers, the ups and downs in their own lives and I feel privileged to have experienced the evening. We left the evening feeling wonderful and totally inspired. My two friends who don’t currently write ?, even thought they might write something themselves after attending!

The main take away points from the evening were:

  • The Irish writing community is friendly, supportive  and helpful.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Anxiously wait for Carmel’s Cold Feeling book to be released.
  • Carmel Harrington and Sinead Moriarty are both awesome 

We had back to the rebel county on the Sunday, so unfortunately we couldn’t stick around for the Sunday events. By all accounts, the prize giving and the motivational talk with Bibi Baskin was an apt way to close a fantastic festival.

The main thing that struck us all about the weekend is that it was all about the writers and none of it was publicity driven.

The Wexford Literary Festival committee are an amazing bunch and pulled off an epic weekend! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018! ? ? ?

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