The Watcher on the Wall

macnieceTo mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death, the story of poet Louis MacNeice’s trans-Atlantic love affair with the American short story writer Eleanor Clark and the poetry it inspired, dramatised from his Letters by playwright Lucy Caldwell.

In 1939 Louis MacNeice fell in love. The poet had had a tough few years: his world had fallen apart when his adored wife eloped with their American lodger, and now, with divorce proceedings acrimonious and MacNeice a single parent looking after their young son Daniel, the poet plunges himself into his travels and his work.

Then, in the spring of 1939, MacNeice met Eleanor Clark, a young, beautiful and gifted short-story writer. Their intense, passionate, desperate affair – he in England, she in New York, the war and the Atlantic Ocean between them – consumed the next few years, and the poet’s imagination. Communicating through letters, their relationship becomes for MacNeice … Read more

Interview with Writing.ie

je07lucy_caldwellEleanor Fitzsimmons © 7 March 2013.
Posted on writing.ie

“I start the novel with this fictional documentary based very much on the stories told by the Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich (in her book Voices from Chernobyl) using testimony from people, especially women but some men also, firemen and soldiers, who had been involved in the Chernobyl catastrophe. One story in particular is told by a woman about her fireman husband. I base my fictional documentary on it because it is one of the most moving stories about love I have ever read.”

Lucy describes the difficulty of inventing memoir in a way that makes it truly authentic and credible.

“I had to do such meticulous research. I used a brilliant website that I credit in the book, CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet) and using this I was able to check what was actually happening on any given day in … Read more

Fiction Uncovered – Shortlist

fiction-uncovered-2013All The Beggars Riding is among the 8 titles on the Fiction Uncovered shortlist. Fiction Uncovered is a promotion which celebrates our best British fiction writers. The titles were selected by a judging panel chaired by novelist Louise Doughty, with judges Sandeep Mahal, Programme Manager at the Reading Agency, Lynne Hatwell, aka influential blogger dovegreyreader, and writer Courttia Newland.

The promotion is supported by Arts Council England and funded by the National Lottery.  The titles will be part of a summer promotion supported by retailers Foyles, Kobo, Waterstones, iBookstore, Amazon and independent bookstores across the UK. Fiction Uncovered authors receive a artist-bound edition of their book. For more information, visit the website

Fiction Uncovered Review

Lucy Caldwell’s All The Beggars Riding is difficult to write about without spoiling its effects. Not that the twists and revelations in it are particularly dramatic – in fact almost the opposite – but that Read more

Drawing on dynamics, from Belfast to Iraq

8488968398_fc1b101395_bLucy Caldwell’s latest novel is inspired by an ancestor’s dramatic life, and her own career has taken her from the stage to the page and recently to Iraq
Interview published in the Irish Times, Monday April 15.

When Lucy Caldwell was 13, an English teacher at school set her class an unusual exercise. The students had been reading How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston, and were asked to write an extra chapter for the book.

Caldwell, who knew the characters well, became obsessed with it – and decided to write an extra ending. “It came after Jennifer’s ending and I loved working on it. That’s honestly when I realised that I wanted to be a writer.”

Her first work was not in fiction, but in theatre – a short play, The River , which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A longer play followed, Leaves , … Read more

Erbil Literature Literature Festival

Lucy travelled to Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, with the British Council for the second Erbil Literature Literature Festival. She wrote about her experiences for the British Council.

“It was the exclamation mark that said it. In the days before I left for Erbil, my emails invariably included an exclamation mark, in parentheses, after the word Iraq. ‘I can’t next week because I’ll be in Iraq (!).’ ‘Let’s meet up when I’m back from Iraq (!).’ I’m pretty sure there was an exclamation mark in brackets when I spoke about the Erbil Literature Festival, too, translating as, ‘Can you believe it?’ and, ‘I know!’ and, ‘Aren’t I intrepid – or maybe foolish, haha!’ A sort of nervous laugh-cough, which I didn’t realise I’d been doing.

I noticed only this morning, reading an email from my publisher that ended with Iraq, bracket, exclamation mark, bracket. They’d emailed to double-check something, and, dashing off … Read more

Woman of the Year Award

Lucy was named one of the Women of the Year 2012 in the sixth Belfast Telegraph awards ceremony. Lucy picked up her her beautiful Belleek trophy as Woman of the Year In The Arts Award 2012 at a glitzy award ceremony and gala dinner on Wednesday 5th December at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast. The awards recognise the outstanding talents of the women of Northern Ireland.

Commenting on her award Lucy said “I’d like to thank especially the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support over the past year. Their wonderful generosity and the strength of their belief in my work helped to make this year my most intensive and creative yet. This feels like a very rich and exciting time for the arts in Northern Ireland, and it’s wonderful beyond words to feel a part of it, and to have the backing of such a dedicated and … Read more

BBC International Short Story Award 2012

bbc-short-storyLucy’s story “Escape Routes” was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award 2012 which celebrates the best of contemporary British short fiction and is one of the most prestigious for a single short story. Clive Anderson chairs the judging panel this year which consists of novelists Anjali Joseph and Ross Raisin, novelist and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Michèle Roberts, and Editor of Readings, BBC Radio, Di Speirs. Each of the ten shortlisted stories was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 .

“Escape Routes”, set in Belfast in the 1990s, is told from the point of view of a child, whose friend and baby sitter mysteriously goes missing. Delivered with the touching innocence of a child oblivious but not unaffected by the ideological and political strife plaguing Northern Ireland in the 1990s, the story is an oblique examination of a besieged Belfast. On … Read more