Niamh Prior

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 26th October 2022

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.

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