Lucy Caldwell discusses her most recent publication, Intimacies (2021), in conversation with Keith Hopper.
Faber is to publish Lucy Caldwell’s first novel in nearly a decade, These Days.
Angus Cargill, publishing director, bought world all language rights from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White, and will publish in hardback in March 2022.
Set in Belfast, the novel follows the lives of two sisters during the Second World War. The synopsis explains: “April, 1941. Belfast has escaped the worst of the war — so far. Over the next two months, it’s going to be destroyed from above, so that even the Luftwaffe pilots will say, in horror, My God, Belfast is finished.
“Many won’t make it through, and no one who does will remain unchanged. Following the lives of sisters Emma and Audrey — one engaged to be married, the other in a secret relationship with another woman — as they try to survive the horrors of the four nights of bombing which were the Belfast Blitz in 1941, These Days is a timeless and heart-breaking novel about living under duress, about family, and about how we try to stay true to ourselves.”
Caldwell said: “I have loved writing, and editing, short stories so much over the last few years that I didn’t think I’d write another novel. Then I became at first idly interested, and quickly obsessed, with the Belfast Blitz, such an under-told chapter in my city’s fiction. When our first lockdown happened, and life as we knew it stalled, a window seemed to open for me between worlds. I lived these characters, their fears, their hopes, their losses, their longings. They felt, still feel, more real to me than any other characters I’ve written.”
Faber is due to publish Caldwell’s second short story collection, Intimacies, in May 2021.
Cargill said: “After the exquisite miniatures that were Lucy’s stories in Multitudes and Intimacies, These Days is a fearless step into the widescreen realm of historical fiction at its very best, and the beautifully moving story of two sisters trying to survive, in love and life, the horrors of the Belfast Blitz.”
Louis MacNeice’s ‘Autumn Journal’, written August to December 1938, was an immediate personal response to the public events of those months and the mood on the streets. ‘It is the nature of this poem,’ a prefatory note declared, ‘to be neither final nor balanced.’ In ‘Spring Journal’, written between March and late August 2020, the novelist Jonathan Gibbs replies to MacNeice and redeploys his form in an urgent, fluent act of witness to the events of this Covid year. Angry, desperately sad, self-aware, sceptical about what writing is for, the book is both a week-by-week record and something ‘carved from chaos’.
Lucy Caldwell joins David Collard, Jonathan Gibbs and Michael Hughes to reflect on the making, the form (‘elastic quatrains’ in cantos) and context (WWII, COVID-19) of both poems.
Is Ireland going through a ‘golden age of literature’ when it comes to women’s writing? Sally Rooney and Anna Burns are hugely popular but what is behind this boom in new writing? Writers Lucy Caldwell and Jan Carson discuss.
Learn the craft of short story writing, then create and polish new stories with an award-winning writer. Includes two masterclasses, led by Lucy Caldwell. The course if part of the Faber Academy
The online course will run from 27th January – 14th April 2021 and is limited to 12 Places.
Sessions will take place 7pm–9pm every Wednesday night for twelve weeks. Below is a session breakdown, which is subject to change, but should give you a good idea of what to expect.
For more details about fees and course timeslines, or to apply, visit the Faber Academy website.
In this course, we’ll look at what a short story is, has been historically, and what it might be – using that reading to develop your own practice as a writer. From Angela Carter and Borges to Lydia Davis and David Hayden, we’ll look at fairytales and urban legends, at flash fiction, at the concept of the ‘well-made’ short story and how contemporary writers have dismantled it. We’ll read David Foster Wallace and Dorthe Nors and talk about coming-of-age stories. We’ll read Lucia Berlin and Akhil Sharma and talk about how to write your own life, and we’ll read Lesley Nneka Arimah and Hassan Blasim and discuss the modern fable. We’ll read Kevin Barry, who blew the contemporary Irish short story wide open, and we’ll read work by some of the most exciting emerging voices, such as Yan Ge and Melatu Uche Okorie, and discuss how to write contemporary life. We’ll read Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson and Elizabeth Bowen, looking at how to create and maintain a story’s mood. We’ll read Raymond Carver and Gordon Lish and learn how to edit our own work: where to begin, and where to end, and how to cut right down to the bone. We’ll end by looking at how and where to get your own work published, and at opportunities for unpublished and emerging writers.
An online panel discussion with Lucy Caldwell. Caleb Azumah Nelson and Eley Williams, shortlisted writers from this year’s BBC National Short Story Award with chaired by BBC’s Editor of Readings Di Speirs.
Now in its fifteenth year, the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious for a single short story. From the short and pithy to the layered and literary, via robust poetics, family hierarchies and maligned youth, this year’s shortlist is the perfect reflection of all that can be achieved in few words.
Small Wonder Festival at Home is a weekend of free digital events to mark Small Wonder: Charleston’s annual festival dedicated to short stories and short form writing which runs from 10am (BST), Friday 25 September – 10pm (BST), Sunday 27 September.
Three talented writers from Northern Ireland – Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Glenn Patterson – are hosted by BBC presenter and broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir in a conversation about their work and their best books of the year. From Belfast Book Festival.
You can view the video at the Big Book Weekend website.