Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)

For a relatively small country Ireland has produced more than its fair share of renowned writers. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would highlight a few of them.

Oscar Wilde

Outside of Shakespeare there can’t be too many writers who are quoted (and misquoted) as often as Oscar Wilde. He was born in Dublin, but it was in London that he would achieve fame. As an author, poet and playwright he was regarded as one of the Victorian literary giants. The Importance of Being Earnest and A Picture of Dorian Gray are among his most famous works. He fell afoul of the laws of the time when he was convicted of gross indecency and as a result spent time in Reading jail. On his release he moved to France where he died in poverty aged just 46.

James Joyce

Joyce was another Dubliner and was born in 1882. In the 1920s and 30s he became one of the most prominent novelists in the modernist avant-garde movement with titles such as Finnegan’s WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manand Ulysses. They were books that pushed the boundaries of what a novel was, and he inspired people like Samuel Beckett (a fellow Irishman) and Salman Rushdie to continue pushing those boundaries.

George Bernard Shaw

The author of more than sixty plays, Shaw stands as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His plays were part of a wave of realism that was sweeping through theatre in the wake of the work of Henrik Ibsen. He used works such as Pygmalion, Arms and Men and Man and Superman as social and political commentary on Edwardian society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

CS Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. He was an academic who worked in the English faculty of Oxford University. Like his fellow Oxford English don and friend JRR Tolkien he served in the first World War where he was injured in 1918. His most famous works are The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of fantasy novels aimed at children and young adults. They were allegories of his Christian faith, something that was extremely important to him. Those books have delighted generations of children and influenced everyone from Tolkien right through to Philip Pullman and JK Rowling.

Roddy Doyle

Not all Ireland’s great writers are long gone. Another citizen of Dublin’s fair city, Roddy Doyle’s novels of contemporary Irish life are some of the best of the last thirty years. Novels like The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van are filled with both humour and the truth of life for working class Irish people. The films made from those books were hugely successful and helped to re-establish Dublin as a relevant cultural city once more.

There are many more Irish writers who could have appeared on this blog. If you have a particular favourite writer or work by an Irish writer please let us know in the comments.

I hope there are some Irish writers out there who would like to join us at IAW.

To all our Irish friends wherever you may be in the world, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Scríbhneoireacht sona
(Happy writing)

Image of hot metal block

Think of the poor typesetter

This is an appeal to make life easier for the poor typesetter. Just think of me slaving away twenty hours a day (Kim is such a hard task master). Sweat dripping over the hot metal (computer keyboard really but I’m laying on it thick). Just think of the frustrations and pain that poor formatting causes for this weary body.

How I’m a doing, are you feeling sympathetic?

Here are a few wee tips for those of you who use Microsoft Word to produce your manuscripts that will make my life easier and help me to produce a better book for you (without pulling what’s left of my hair out).

  1. Please, no double spacing. I know there are many of you who were taught to leave a double space at the end of a sentence but in the age of computers that is no longer necessary. I realizethat it may be breaking a habit of a lifetime but if possible, please try.
  2. Don’t use double carriage returns between paragraphs. I have to remove carriage returns using an automated process. If I don’t it would take me a long time to process, and as a result the automated process may remove carriage returns that are required to format a specific passage. This is particularly true for tables that have been laid out as just text.
  3. Make a section break obvious. One problem I frequently come across as a result of removing carriage returns is that a section break in the text is removed. If you use either a star or a line to indicate a break, then it will be clear to me and will not be removed by the automated process.
  4. Use page breaks. At the end of a chapter instead of filling the space with multiple carriage returns use the insert page break function in Word. Again, this will speed things up and also ensure that I don’t miss the change to a new chapter.
  5. Use Styles. The best way to ensure a simple and accurate transfer from Word to a finished book is to use the Styles function in Word. By identifying Chapter Headings, First paragraphs, Body text, italics etc. I will always know exactly what you intended for the text.

I know that this post is slightly selfish but these simple tips will help to ensure that I produce the book you want more efficiently with less back and forth between us.

Think of my poor fingers.

If you would like to ask me about any of these suggestions leave a question in the comments below.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus (Happy St. David’s Day)

Today the people of Wales celebrate their patron saint. We thought we would send greetings to all the authors of Wales by looking at five of their greatest writers.

Dylan Thomas

Born in Swansea, Dylan Thomas was a renowned poet and playwright. He had worldwide recognition during his lifetime. Works such as ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and ‘And death shall have no dominion’ had a such a profound effect on a young Robert Zimmerman that when he came time for him to step on to the world stage, he changed his name to Bob Dylan. Thomas struggled with mental health issues and alcohol, and died aged just 39.

Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s early writing career was as a spy novelist in a similar vein to Len Deighton but lately has become a celebrated author of historical fiction. ‘Pillars of the Earth’ – the story of the building of a cathedral in the middle ages – is one of the best novels of its type that I have ever read.

Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynold was born in Barry, south Wales. He is a respected writer of epic science fiction. He has had numerous science fiction awards nominations for works such as ‘Revelation Space’ and Absolution Gap.

Russell T Davies

Born Stephen Russell Davies, he is one of the top television writers in the world. Series such as ‘Queer as Folk’; ‘Bob & Rose’ and Casanova led to him being given the weighty responsibility of rebooting Doctor Who. As a fan of the original show it was with a little trepidation that I tuned into watch the first episode of the new show. My worries were extended a little as a power cut meant that we didn’t see that episode until the following day, but I my concerns were unfounded. Davies’s love of the character and brilliance as a writer shone through.

Roald Dahl

I wonder how many children were turned into readers as a result of the work of Roald Dahl. Born in Wales of Norwegian descent, Dahl is regarded as one of, if not the greatest, children’s authors of all time. Everyone will have a favourite of his many novels such a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ James and the Giant Peach’ and George’s Marvellous Medicine (a big hit with Calum and Kirsten). His array of fantastic characters and fabulous stories have been a friend to parents all over the world.


To all the writers of Wales I hope these great names inspire you.


Ysgrifennu hapus

(Happy writing)