Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat


Not long back from a week-long residency in an artist's retreat in County Kerry called Cill Rialaig. The brain-child of the amazing Noelle Campbell Sharpe, it is a restored famine village - all stone houses! - overlooking beautiful Ballinskelligs Bay. All around us, mountain and field with sheep, before us a stretch of blue water dotted with islands. Ahhhhhh. I got to work on my latest novel The Magdalene, a book I started 25 years ago and have finally returned to! It is incredibly complicated and I needed to lay down plot time-lines and character chronologies while wrestling the structure into shape. Done and dusted! As the summer solstice occurred while I was there, I got a decent bonfire going and called out the other residents to enjoy it. Made several wonderful new friends, a Finnish visual artist Sirpa Pyykko, an American poet Jodie Hollander and an American visual artist Kathy Kissik. We've all agreed to meet up again, possibly in a retreat somewhere in Finland. If you pop over to my regular blog you'll see a few pics of nearby Skellig Michael, a place that was on my bucket list and I finally got to see. All in all, a brilliant week that also included jumping into the pristine, freezing-cold, glorious sea.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Bray Arts Club


I've been invited to give a "show and tell" at the wonderful Bray Arts Club on the seafront in my hometown of Bray. As most of the members of this club are artists themselves - painters, musicians, sculptors, actors, playwrights, novelists and the like - I'll be drawing aside the curtain to show how the wizard worked away on her dials and cranks. I'll present a Powerpoint with images of the mansions that inspired Dunesfort House (all Scottish houses, some now in ruins) and landscapes of the Outer Hebrides and images of the Callanish Stones. I'll also bring my original workbook from the trip that I took to northern Scotland with my dear departed friend Dr Nena Hardie (who makes a cameo appearance in the first and last chapters); the huge sheets of paper that helped me plot the structure of seven days and nights; and the photographs of people who resemble my characters. Looking forward to the night and to hearing the other presenters as well. Got a little chuckle when I saw that the poster called me "Olwen Melling." Life imitates art. Here's the link to the Bray Arts site: brayarts.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grand Maitreya Project



The next time I go to Mongolia, I will be visiting this giant statue and stupa site. Reminiscent of the Ancient Wonders of the World, it will no doubt be an international pilgrimage and tourist destination. But there's even more to this incredibly ambitious non-profit project. It hopes to appeal especially to youth and future generations and will focus on ecology, science and the arts, reflecting the nature of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. No surprise that the statue was designed by Zanabazar, the 17th century spiritual head of Mongolia, who was a genius in many areas including language - he invented soyombo, the Mongolian native script - medicine, astronomy, and the arts. In the latter case, he cast beautiful bronze statues and was also an accomplished painter. I saw a lot of his work in museums in Mongolia. He's an inspirational example of how one can cross spirituality with art and science and his vision certainly lives on in the Grand Maitreya Project.

Friday, April 25, 2014

SONGS AND SWORDS RADIO INTERVIEW


Here's the link to my interview on WAYN Radio, the student radio station of Wayn State University, Detroit. You get to listen to some beautiful Hindi tunes before I chat away about books, writing, life, the universe and everything: https://soundcloud.com/wayn-radio/songs-and-swords-april-2-2014. And then you hear some lively songs from the Irish-Canadian group The Irish Rovers and a tune from the American Celtic group Gaelic Storm. Radhika, the interviewer, read my books in her teens and never forgot me. I love my readers!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Little Story About My Cat


I mentioned on my other blog that my little cat Emma died on St Patrick's Day and that I would write about her when I was ready. As it turns out, my publishers were interested in the story - sad but also magical - and they have put it up on their Heal Your Life website. (Also on their HealYourLife Facebook page where it got hundreds of likes and comments.) You go to www.healyourlife.com and wait for it to appear in the Featured Articles section at the top. Eventually it will take its place below. I'm still grieving that she is gone. It's worse at night when I think to call her in and she isn't there. Impermanence. One of the hardest facts of life. (Credit: ANGEL (R) Cards (c) 1981, 2006 Drake & Tyler)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

US College Radio Interview!


Out of the blue, I was contacted by Radhika of the student-run radio station of Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. She's a fan of the Chronicles of Faerie and asked if she could interview me about those books and also my new work, People of the Great Journey. I said fine and we had a great chat. The interview airs today on www.waynradio.net at 7:10 pm eastern standard time, 4:10 pm pacific time, and 12:10 am (just past midnight) in Ireland and the UK. Radhika's programme is a mix of international music and book reviews and, of course, occasional interviews. There will be a podcast later on in the week. I'll post the link to that when it's up. Listening to the station yesterday, I really enjoyed it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Oratorio Terezin


Here is one of the magical synchronicities that enrich my life from time to time: I recently received an email from a Canadian reader who said she had read my fairy books as a child - The Light-Bearer's Daughter being her favourite. Grown now, a young woman, she bought People of the Great Journey. When she came to the part of the book which includes the story of Terezin, or Theresienstadt as it was also called, she was astonished. You see, as a child she took part in the Oratorio Terezin, a heart-breaking and exquisite opera involving a full orchestra, children's and adult choirs, and soloists. They sang pieces from the Bible alongside poems written by the children imprisoned in Terezin, most of whom died in Auschwitz: of 15,000 children, only 100 survived. This Oratorio was created by Ruth Fazal, a Canadian composer. You can read all about it and order CDs and DVDs at this website: www.ruthfazal.com. What my reader could hardly believe was that she had read my books as a child and also took part in the Oratorio, and then was brought back to Terezin when she read my adult work. What was amazing for me was that I had not heard of the Oratorio and was stunned by the beauty of the music and the poetry. If (no, when) this book goes to film, I will make certain the director is aware of Ms Fazal's work.