Novel Fair

I’ve neglected my little blog, my excuse being I’m too busy scratching at my drafts and my head – or my heads, as it feels at times.

But suggestions I should throw in my tuppence worth into the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair, and attending said launch last Thursday, have nudged me towards a post.

It’s daunting to even think of taking part in a competition, let alone this one. I kind of twitch nervously at the thought. Those fears aside, I sacrificed my Thursday night footie and headed for IWC offices on Parnell Square.


Niamh Boyce

Aided by a very large glass of wine I, and a group of people – smallish enough I thought – listened to the writing experiences and advice of Niamh Boyce (The Herbalist) and Janet Cameron (Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World) by Patricia Deevy from Penguin Ireland

janet cameron

Janet Cameron

Niamh and Janet were among the winners of the inaugural Novel Fair 2012.

It was encouraging to hear Niamh say she finished her novel just three days to go before the deadline for the Novel Fair. She told people not to worry about it being not perfect. Having said that she said now was the time to sort out any issues in the novel.
Particularly welcome to hear were her difficulties regarding finding time to write, with children of her own. This is the biggest problem for me. But she added later not to make lack of time/family/work commitments an excuse. Just find the time. Yes sir!

Patricia Deevy talked on the topic of pitches – you pitch your novel to publishers/agents at the novel fair (those who get the opportunity, that is) – and advised people to “tell me in two sentences what it’s about”. She said tell it as someone would to a friend as they were getting off a bus. Talk about the hook, the characters and show your enthusiasm. For her, the key to a novel was “an authentic sense of someone’s life”.

I was glad someone asked the question how do you actually get to the Novel Fair part? We were told three anonymous judges examine the submissions (10,000 words or first five chapters). They each choose their top 20%. They all read these and whittle it down to 12.

I met a few Irish Crime Fiction Group colleagues there, Sean Farrell and Liam Flood, and a grand sociable night it was. Certainly glad I went.

Full details of IWC Novel Fair at


About Cormac O'Keeffe

I've written a novel. And, it's going to be published. This April. Mad, or what? It's entitled 'Black Water' and is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about that bumpy journey, which is about to get really exciting. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel, much of it centred along the canal. There are also some reviews, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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