As a child Niamh spent a lot of time reading, and the rest of the time enjoying the outdoors.
“I swam a lot in the sea,” she says.
After leaving Brunel University, she went to live in Madrid where she taught English.
“I travelled; I tutored children, and I did some freelance journalism working on the Kinsale Newsletter. And I was constantly taking courses in Creative Writing.”
During her MA, Niamh focused on poetry, but her PhD thesis was an earlier version of Catchlights.
“Afterwards, I let the manuscript sit for a year, then I redrafted it at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig. During lockdown it became my mission to find an agent.”
Which she did – in Ludo Cinelli of the White Literary Agency. Her stories and poetry have been published in The Stinging Fly and many other journals.
Who is Niamh Prior?
Date of birth: 1978 in Sandycove near Kinsale.
Education: Bandon Grammar School; Brunel University, English with Film and TV studies; University College, Cork, MA in Creative Writing, and PhD, (Funded by the Irish Research Council.)
Home: Belgooly, near Kinsale, County Cork.
Family: Partner Darren.
The Day Job: “I’m a writer, and a freelance mentor and critic. The Arts Council funded me last year.”
In Another Life: “I’d be a film director. During my degree I dreamt of Hollywood.”
Favourite Writers: Carys Davies; Raymond Carver; Claire Keegan; Thomas Morris; Sylvia Plath; Douglas Copeland; Elizabeth Strout; Haruki Murakami.
Second Book: “It’s a novel, but it won’t be traditional. I’ve been working on it for a year.”
Top Tip: “Get up early – and make yourself accountable. Whether you have a mentor, a writer’s group, or a writing buddy, have regular meetings and tell someone what you plan to get done.”
The Debut: Catchlights. JM Originals: €15.19. Kindle: €8.76
These stories are linked in ingenious ways – with minor characters reappearing in a starring role. A vagrant remembers a shady fisherman she’d once met; and years later, he becomes central in a story about his childhood friend’s missing wife.
“Each story sprouted another. Playing with form, using children’s books as a process of linking the stories make the writing less daunting.”
The Verdict: Clever, literary and intriguing, with strange yet memorable characters.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 18th June.
© Sue J Leonard. 2022.