Monday, December 21, 2015

My Christmas Books and Films

Everyone has their favourites and these are mine: The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (finished two days ago, yes I cried over Tiny Tim as I do annually), Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti (seriously bizarre story but Finn and I read it together every year) and A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (oh such beautiful writing, but my little blue paper edition has disappeared, who fecked it?!). Meanwhile have watched my favourite Christmas television episode, "All Ye Faithful" of JAG, very clever writing which includes references to various Christmas films, books and songs. I've also managed to watch two favourite Christmas films Love Actually and It's a Wonderful Life (cried here, too). Don't know where I found the time to watch anything as it has been seriously hectic these past few weeks! But the cards are off, the presents wrapped, the plans made. I'm ... dare I say it? ... ready. May I wish you a very Merry Christmas and healthy and happy new year.

Thursday, December 03, 2015


I just made my annual contribution to Wikipedia. It's a brilliant service which I use regularly to check on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. It's a fabulous resource tool to send you in the direction you need to go to find what you need to find if it doesn't already have what you want. Great for sending you off on tangents and unnecessary but fascinating searches also :). The founder could make a fortune if he chose to inflicts ads on us like Skype, FB etc but he doesn't. All he asks is any small amount you can provide. Do give this a thought. You know you use it. We all do.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Voice of America Teen Radio

I was interviewed last week by two charming American teens Zahra and Brigitte for Voice of America Teen Radio programme "Express Yourself." The founder of the programme is Cynthia Brian, writer of Be the Star You Are. She contacted me before I went on the Camino and asked if I would talk about The Summer King under the theme of "The Gift of Healing." I was quite happy to as the book deals with the healing of loss and grief. Those who have read the book know that the story opens a year after the main character, Laurel, has lost her twin sister. The pre-recorded interview will be aired on Tuesday, November 10 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time. That's 8:00 pm in Ireland but if you are from somewhere else you'll have to check online for the corresponding time in your country. To listen in online go to: Hope you enjoy it. I did!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Writing Days

The long grey of the Irish winter has begun. There's nothing better for writing than a rainy day outside and a warm fire in the hearth inside. So I'm working on the revisions of my screenplay for The Hunter's Moon (announcement coming soon, stay tuned) and I'm also transcribing my Camino notes from tattered copybooks to beautiful bound journal. Will post pics of same soon. Meanwhile, here's me at the end of all things, i.e. beyond my boots lie the rocks and waters of Finisterre on the western coast of Spain, Land's End to the Romans. The most wonderful thing about going through my notes is the full recall of the experience. I'm back there again ... on the sacred way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Rebel's Tale

I mentioned in my personal blog that I'm doing a full-time art course at the moment (writer turns visual artiste). Here's a little video made by the talented 2nd Years and directed by TP MacCurtain who's risking his life to teach me metalwork. Next year I get to do digital photography and filmmaking with himself. Will have some news soon about my own script and the film of The Hunter's Moon. Stay tuned!  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More Camino

Have I started work on my Camino book? No. First I need to buy a beautiful bound journal and transfer my three crushed and scribbled notebooks into it. That will bring back the entire experience - un viaje profond y mythico - and give me the boost to start writing. These two pics are another of the alpha and omega variety. The 790 marker is outside Roncesvalles, Spain which I reached after crossing the French Pyrenees (took two days, one sunny, one fog-bound). The 100 marker is somewhere in a Galician woods pointing the way to the sacred goal, the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Proud Mother

My marine scientist daughter has decided to pursue her other passion - delicious, healthy but not boring, gluten free food (she's coeliac). She has written a fabulous cookbook, with her own photographs, and within six minutes of sending it to a top European literary agent she was taken on! Her book is now being considered by no less than five publishers. Am I proud? You bet I am. Another writer in the family! (She didn't lick it off the floor.) Here's her website if you'd like to have a look:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Alpha & Omega

First photo is the intrepid explorer in front of the church in St Jean Pied de Port - candle lit for safe journey! - before crossing the Pyrenees for Spain. I left June 18th. Second photo is triumphant arrival, 800+ km later, at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, July 31st. In the coming days I'll post a few photos of the adventures, companeros, delights and sights that went in between. Truly it was one of the most life affirming things I have ever done in my life - second only to giving birth to my daughter - and I would highly recommend it. Buen camino!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pilgrimage to Heresy

Here at the end of my Camino, I'm chilling out in the wonderful retreat house of British-Canadian writer Tracy Saunders. It's a beautiful stone house opposite the church in a little Spanish village not far from Muxia. I've just finished reading Tracy's novel Pilgrimage to Heresy which contains two stories in one: a modern-day tale of romance and walking on the Camino Frances crossed with a mediaeval story of the Gnostic bishop Priscillian of Avila whom the author suggests is the true owner of the bones in the cathedral of Santiago. Controversial, fascinating and well-researched, it's an all round good read. For more information about the retreat house and the book see:

Friday, July 31, 2015


Reached this beautiful city today, the end of the Christian side of the El Camino. Overwhelmed with emotion and still absorbing the whole thing. Got my compostela in Latin and will be attending the mass tonight where the giant fumador incense dispenser goes flying through the cathedral. Then, after two days rest and enjoyment of Santiago, Iĺl be off to complete the Celtic camino which ends in Finisterre and includes Muxia. There will be loads of photos later.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Celtic Camino

My guidebook makes a one sentence reference to the fact that the Camino Santiago was a pilgrimage for the Celtic peoples before it was Christian. This makes sense as sacred places and sacred ways tend to remain so through time and the change of nations and religions. After the Celts it was Roman. Now someone commented that the Romans only used the way for trade purposes - I stayed in a village where there are Roman ruins, Calzadilla de los Hermandillos, and I´ve also walked Roman roads still sturdy and cobblestoned - but I doubt this is true as there is at least one altar to Mercury along the way. And what better god for walking pilgrims than one with wings on his feet? But it is the Celtic Camino that most interests me as my ancestors would have walked it long before they became Christian. I need to explore this more and when I get home I will talk with my friend Daibhi O Croinin, a professor of Early Irish History at the University of Galway, but here is one thing I´ve noticed. All along the Way there are statues of Santa Maria Dolorosa and she is always in black, sometimes showing a red heart pierced with swords, but not always. And though this Camino is in honour of St James, Maria del Camino, i.e. Mary, the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, is the patron of the Camino. So I wonder: is this an ancient memory of the Great Goddess, the Mother of the Celtic gods, the Morrigu, the Great Queen? Her colour was black and her birds were the ravens. I had a strange dream before I began thinking about this matter: a veiled female shape, all black, and these words in my mind: I was the first. There´s more but I will keep this for the book.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rest Day in Najera

Alas, unable to upload photos to the library computer (understandably) so can´t include visuals but maybe I can do it in one of the albergues. We´ll see. It´s almost impossible to describe this experience at the moment. There isn´t time to absorb or reflect. Too much happens in any given day - miles walked, food eaten, people met, languages spoken, churches visited (the exquisite gold altars). Then I barely have time to make some notes about the day as I have to take a shower, wash my clothes and fall exhausted into bed at 10:00 pm. Funny thing, the snoring doesn´t affect me at all! I thought it would be a nightmare. But I lie in my bunk bed every night in a room full of men and women and I think "here I am with all my brothers and sisters on the Camino." I´ve come up with a title for my book if I do sit down and write one: Hobo Soul. It would be my first work of creative non-fiction, not counting reviews and articles.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Buen Camino!

Irish-Canadian pilgrim about to head off for the Camino Santiago and hoping to walk all 500 miles! I'll be making notes along the way and taking photographs for the book. Already have a title but I'll keep that a secret for now. But first, to bed, perchance to sleep. zzzzzzzz

Sunday, June 14, 2015


As I prepare for my own long walk from southern France across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, I'm enjoying reading the tale of these two men - one a monk, one a naturalist - on pilgrimage to the sacred sites of Buddhism in northern India. Just finished the bit where they were attacked in Bihar. Harrowing! My pilgrimage is a Roman Catholic route and I intend to join in the masses and any other devotions along the way. But I'm bringing sandalwood mala beads along with my rosary beads and will say a few mantras as well. All is beautiful, all is holy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Screenplay of The Hunter's Moon

Jampa Ling, my heart's home and Buddhist Centre retreat, has worked its magic as always. Here for the month of May,I have already completed the script I started a good while ago and couldn't finish. I'm very excited about this. It feels magical. Will be sending it off to agent (Marianne Gunn O'Connor), manager in Hollywood (Barry Krost) and a few producers I know. Then I am heading off for the Camino to go on pilgrimage - ticking off a major bucket list item - and leaving my work in the hands of destiny (and various professionals).

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Despite the fact I have been on the move for some time, wandering here and there, I've managed to read a slew of books. Last weekend I read Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte was definitely not as great a writer as her sisters Emily and Charlotte) and The Children Act (interesting read but neither compelling nor memorable, in fact the ending is predictable melodrama). A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is definitely the most astonishing work I've read in years. Eimear McBride, in this first novel, has out-Joyced Joyce, using stream of consciousness effortlessly and without artifice to best reflect her character's voice. It is agonising to read. Inserted firmly inside the protagonist's mind, the reader cannot escape the nightmare of this young woman's life. I was grief-stricken and traumatised by the end but do not regret reading the book. Since I'm planning to go on the Camino Santiago I tried to read Shirley MacLaine's Camino but it was just too barmy for me (and that's saying a lot as I do like barmy). Can't remember now what else I've read. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gitanjali by Tagore

I thought that my voyage had come to its end, at the last limit of my power, that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted, and the time come to take shelter in silent obscurity. But I find that Thy will knows no end in me, and when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The War of Art

I haven't blogged for a while. Indeed I haven't written anything for a while. Yes, I've been on one of those long voyages through the dark. (Is it getting harder the older I get or does it just feel that way?) I'd be lying if I said I wasn't set back by People of the Great Journey's lack of success in the world. A blow to my self-belief, confidence and love of writing. But this wonderful book by Steven Pressfield, which a younger writer sent to me recently, admonishes me for that reaction. At the very least, Pressfield points out, failure in art still puts you in the arena as opposed to the sidelines, stands or parking lot! Giving up is quite simply unprofessional and a surrender to that insidious evil Resistance. So it's time to get back on the horse. Get back to work. Here's a relevant quote from Goethe found in the book: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.