Getting into writing – an interview with Nuala O’Connor

Nuala O'Connor

Nuala O’Connor AKA Nuala Ní Chonchúir was born in Dublin, Ireland, she lives in East Galway. Her fifth short story collection Joyride to Jupiter was published by New Island in June 2017. Penguin USA, Penguin Canada and Sandstone (UK) published Nuala’s third novel, Miss Emily, about the poet Emily Dickinson and her Irish maid. Miss Emily was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Eason Book Club Novel of the Year 2015 and longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award. Nuala’s fourth novel, Becoming Belle, will be published in 2018.

My blog:


Twitter: @NualaNiC

What got you interested in writing/publishing?

It was a natural progression from reading. As a kid I loved books above most other things; I kept a diary and wrote stories and poems. I kept it up but didn’t get serious about writing until my late twenties, when I did a few workshops and co-founded a writing group called Garters in Galway.

Joyride to Jupiter cover

What are your happiest memories in your writing career?

Probably that first acceptance, fifteen years ago by Arlen House, of my début poetry collection. I had sent in the MS and was working in a book shop and the publisher came in, looked at my name badge, and put two and two together. He told me he really liked my poems and it went from there. There’s a glow of positivity over that moment.

Also when Penguin took me on in North America. That was a long-held dream come true. The penguin logo on my book never fails to thrill me.

How do you handle success and failure?

I don’t quite believe the successes when they happen so I coast along like someone in a dream. The failures make me weep and gnash and feel down. But that angst always passes and I get on with it. Writing is a life of peaks and troughs and that can be tough going. It wouldn’t be for everyone.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Develop as thick a skin as you can muster. Be friendly. Be professional. Be kind.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

Paper and e-books exist happily side by side for me. Each has their pros and cons. I use my kindle for travel and for fat books. I also collect books, especially orange Penguins and old hardbacks. Moaning about technological advances in publishing is pointless and, as a writer, self-defeating – the world spins on.

Do you self-publish?

I own the digital rights to my short fiction collection Nude, so I put it on kindle. It earns me about €4 a month. I’m in clover 😉

How did you gain a publisher?

Lots of different ways! Alone (many times). Via my agent these days. Having a good agent has changed things for me – she is a brilliant business woman and I’m not. I’ve a great person in my corner now and that has created welcome opportunities for me.

Why did you start your website?

It was time. I was on book number four and had been keeping my lit blog for a while. This was 2007. My husband is an IT man so he offered to set up the website and maintain it. I have to prod him about updating the site now and then but, generally, it’s a good, collaborative experience.


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