The many faces of Lucy Caldwell

by Alex Peake-Tomkinson at BookanistaLucy_Caldwell_portrait

Multitudes is the first book of short stories from the prizewinning novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell. The collection is eleven stories strong and each of the stories seems to describe a character in peril so that holding one’s breath whilst reading them sometimes feels unavoidable. Caldwell agrees to meet me to discuss the stories and I worry that she might be quite earnest – few people write their first novels at 21, after all. My fears dissipate, however, when she suggests we talk over glasses of wine at a bar in Spitalfields.

The stories in this collection feel quite perilous, as though the characters are on the brink of something that could be dangerous and there is a sense of people waiting for their fate. I guess that’s what it’s like to be a teenage girl, when you lack agency, I suggest.

“Yes, and I … Read more

Five Things Right Now: Lucy Caldwell

(chosen for Granta Magazine. See the original article here)

1. Dusty Bluebells documentary

The Northern Irish poet Stephen Connolly, @closeandslow, tweeted a link to this old BBC NI documentary from 1971, and I happened to see the tweet, watch the documentary, and was entranced. It’s about Belfast children and the street songs they sang, the games they played, even as their wider world was disintegrating around them. It took me right back to my childhood, the endless skipping games and cat’s cradles, but even more preciously, it sparked a story, ‘The Ally Ally O’, which is now the first story in my debut collection. (Stephen: if you happen to see this, the pints are on me.)

2. The Architecture Foundation: New Architects 3

Every ten years, the Architecture Foundation selects Britain’s best emerging practices and publishes the result in a glossy hardback. (Think Granta’s Best of Young British … Read more

On Why Short Stories Matter

maeve_brennanA good short story: greater than the sum of its parts

A short story is a shot of vodka (Chekhov), a love affair to the novel’s marriage (Lorrie Moore), a high wire act (Kevin Barry). It’s a hand grenade, a sprint, a shock, a shiver. There’s something taut, essential, elusive about it. There’s a magic to it, an alchemy. A good short story has to infer the entire and immersive world of a novel, create the same depth of consciousness in its characters, and yet with a mere fraction of the words. It requires the concision of poetry, and maybe the comparison with poetry goes even further: it needs to work on a symbolic plane as well as on the level of the literal narrative.

A good short story needs to be far greater than the sum of its parts, something that unfurls in you after you’ve read it, echoes … Read more

‘Everything you write requires a portion of your soul, I think, to make it live’

Lucy Caldwell, whose collection Multitudes was published yesterday, opens up about it and her adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters to fellow Belfast writer Paul McVeigh

(from The Irish Times)
Lucy_Caldwell_portraitWere you always going to be a writer?
It seems so – I wrote my first “novel”, “the robin’s party”, when I was 4½. My Mum says that before I could even write I would ask her to fold pages up to look like books, and tell her what words I wanted in them. I made a programme recently about the Brontë siblings – who were half-Irish, as people often forget – and was digging around in my parents’ attic in search of my own “juvenilia” (not to glorify it with such a word!) and I found boxes and boxes of the “books” and “magazines” I used to make for my sisters, thick chronicles of our imaginary worlds and the genealogies … Read more

A Multitude of experiences…

Lucy CaldwellLucy Caldwell returns to Belfast this month to read from her debut short story collection about young love and growing up. She tells Jenny Lee about being inspired by Van Morrison’s lyrics and the near-death experience of her baby son that led to her writing close to the heart

(from The Irish News, 10 August, 2015)

BELFAST author Lucy Caldwell returns to her roots for the first reading from her forthcoming short story collection this month. The 34-year-old award-winning writer has used her memories of growing up in the east of the city as a catalyst for the collection, titled Multitudes, which has been 10-years in the making.

As well as a novelist, Caldwell is a much admired playwright whose stage plays – Leaves, Guardians and Notes to Future Self – and radio plays have won awards including the George Devine Award and the BBC Stewart Parker Award.… Read more