The Beasts They Turned Away by Ryan Dennis is a very different novel to the norm. When I think about it, most farming books I’ve read tend to be memoir or definitely non fiction. So many novels with farms as their setting are romantic or comedic. I’m thinking now of novels like Cowgirl or the Aisling books and while it’s great to have farming showcased, the authors get so much wrong that it sets my teeth on edge.
We all need a laugh. The evenings are getting dark earlier and earlier, the news is full of Brexit and Covid, the weather forecast isn’t good for next week. We need music and laughter and tea and comfort food and good television programmes and cosiness.
An ideal farm husband? Would he be handy too? Well, I can’t promise you the perfect husband but I do have the means of improving him perhaps or at the very least, of dropping hints to [...]
I have always enjoyed reading farm and rural memoirs. My copies of James Herriot’s books are dog-eared and have been reread many times since I was a teenager. The success of recently published farm memoirs proved that the rural memoir is as popular as ever, perhaps even enjoying a renaissance as various sectors of society (indeed, 47% of people in Britain) show an interest in leaving their city lives and dream of living on a smallholding or perhaps [...]
To self-publish or to seek an agent and a publisher? Which is the best route? It’s a question that many writers, myself included, often ask and I’m going to attempt to answer it.
I self-published my first three books. I hadn’t planned to write a trilogy but that’s how it worked out. They focused on farming, using tongue-in-cheek humour to reflect on farming life past and present. All are non-fiction. I didn’t try to find a publisher. I decided to self-publish [...]
This time last year, my editor and formatter Sally Vince was putting the finishing touches to the book I had just finished, a social history of the Collegiate School Celbridge. The all-girls school had merged with the boys’ school Kilkenny College in 1973 (where I went to secondary school in the 1980s as it happened) and past pupil, teacher and headmistress Miss Freda Yates, now in her 90s, had been looking for someone to write a book about [...]