“I asked my parents for feedback. When they laughed, hysterically, (it wasn’t a comedy,) I quit fiction writing for over a decade.”
She turned to poetry, a form she loved, especially when she met poets and poetry enthusiasts whilst studying in Belfast.
Eschewing a PhD in London, Caoilinn moved to New Zealand. She worked for Google and ran a small business before finally taking that PhD.
“Then I moved to the Netherlands for a three-year visiting writer gig at Maastricht University. It ended last year. And for now, I’m writing.”
Caoilinn had switched back to prose because she found herself unable to combine poetry writing with the corporate life.
“There were a few practise novels. It took a decade to arrive at Orchid & the Wasp.”
Who is Caoilinn Hughes
Date of birth: 29th July 1985 in Galway.
Education: Taylor’s Secondary School in Galway. Queens University Belfast; BA in English Literature and Theatre Studies, and MA in 20th Century Irish Theatre and Culture. Victoria University, New Zealand; PhD in English Literature.
Home: The Netherlands. “But I’m in New York for a few months.”
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
In Another Life: “To be an orchestral composer.”
Favourite Writers: Shakespeare: Emily Dickinson; Oscar Wilde; Vladimir Nabokov; Anton Chekhov; Roald Dahl; Flannery O’Connor; Lorrie Moore; Zadie Smith; Marina Carr; Anthony Doerr.
Second Novel: “I’ve written one. It’s a departure from Orchid & the Wasp.”
Top Tip: Give yourself short deadlines to complete sections of work. And always allow the work to dictate its best form. “I recently started a short story which became a novella.”
The Debut: Orchid & the Wasp. One World: €14.99. Kindle: €5.29.
When Gael Foess’s father walks out during Ireland’s crash, her family falls apart. Determined to act as their saviour, Gael sets off for London and New York.
Spanning the decade from the Celtic Tiger, to the post-crash world, the novel questions what we owe one another, how we protect loved ones in a system that is failing them and how events can turn us into people we never intended to be.
The Verdict: Hugely ambitious and richly inventive.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 21st July
Sue Leonard. 2018