At 7, Niamh asked for a real typewriter for Christmas.
“I paid for my own ribbons and had to conserve ink. I’ve always known I’d be a writer, but it’s hard to write well. It took me until my late twenties.”
Finding secondary school tough when her parents separated, Niamh loved university.
“It felt like home. When I’d finished my Masters, the recession hit, and there was no work. I went to London for four years, to take a PhD, but I was lonely. I worked sporadically as a receptionist, and then a teacher, but sometimes I hadn’t the money for the bus fare.”
In 2015, returning, she signed on, then got a clerical job in the civil service.
“I was paid so little, and I hated it. I’d broken off a relationship and was in a wall of depression. I started creative writing to get out of that.”
Gaining a burst of confidence on a receiving a ‘Next generation,’ bursary from the Arts Council, Niamh quit her job, wrote her novel, and took a post-doc.
“Then I did some teaching before going back on the dole.”
Niamh has published a monograph on John McGahern, and her stories and essays have appeared in The Dublin Review, Gorse, and other literary journals.
Who is Niamh Campbell?
Date of birth: 1988 in Dublin
Education: Loretto, Balbriggan. University College Dublin; English. Trinity College Dublin, MA on Irish Writers. King’s College, London, PhD, English.
The Day Job: Teaching on causal basis, and looking for academic work.
In Another Life: “I’d be a dancer giving solo shows.”
Favourite Writers: John McGahern; James Joyce; Virginia Woolf; Jean Rhys.
Second Novel: “I’m working on it.”
Top Tip: “Talent is not enough. You need to work.”
The Debut: This Happy. Orion Books: €16.99. Kindle: €9.43.
Alannah, when newly married, sees her landlady from six years before – when she was living in rural Ireland with a married man. This sparks memories. Moving between these two periods, Alannah examiners her actions and feelings.
“I used my own experience of being an educated woman in a culture that had no use for me. And the volatility that comes with romantic freedom.”
The Verdict: I adored this! It’s clever, deeply absorbing, and utterly satisfying.
Published in The Irish Examiner 20th June
© Sue J Leonard. 2020