ups and downs

It's been a rather odd and busy week for me. On Wednesday I went to a band rehearsal, to run through my set for WORD>PLAY with Monkeys in Love, in advance of our gig on Thursday. Band rehearsals are way cooler than writing rehearsals, which are more or less just me muttering to myself with an eye on the clock. Then, the gig itself on Thursday was ace - our set was so much fun to perform; the band are amazing, people seemed to like my stories, and there was even shadow-puppetry, courtesy of Laura! There's a video here of our first number. All the other acts were great, too - I particularly liked Tether, by (murmur), featuring David Hartley. Adrian Slatcher has a much more thorough write-up here. I also had my first PhD supervision on Thursday - more a discussion of the process than anything else, but it made me feel rather proper and official. Thumbs up!

But I also found out this week that Brian George, a long-time member of my writing group, the Fiction Forge, has passed away. Brian was an extremely talented writer and a really insightful reader and it's such a shock to think that he's not with us any more. The group is an online one, which gives it all that odd, peculiarly 21st century, virtual dimension; I've had so many conversation with Brian over the years, but I never actually met him. It's hard to know how to negotiate that. In the meantime, if any of you are searching for some short fiction to read, please click through to Brian's website, where you'll find links to some of his published work. Brian, we miss you already.


Comma Press have uploaded a video of me reading my piece, The Lovely Phelan Ladies, at this year's Manchester Independent Book Market. Check it out - I only cock up the reading once!

the next step

It's been two years since I handed in my MA dissertation and seventeen months since Seren was born; in that interval I've published a chapbook, started running writing workshops, redrafted the (still unfinished) novel, which I've now put in hibernation, pending a cool re-read in a few months, written and published a handful of flash pieces, and performed at a bunch of spoken word events around Manchester (this Thursday, come see me at WORD>PLAY in Didsbury!). It's been tiring and busy, but rather aimless, too. So it's time for the next phase - more focus, more serious-writing-face, more library-time. So, I've applied and been accepted as a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. I enrolled last week (student card and Young Persons' Railcard pocketed) and this week I'll have my first supervision meeting. It's a little scary and very exciting. I'll be researching short story sequences, or composite novels, and narrative theory (narratology, a bunch of formalist and post-structuralist works, discourse theory, etc), and I'll be writing my own set of interlinked short stories. I blogged frequently about my MA a couple of years back, and I expect I'll blog about the PhD too, but it's not as structured a programme, obviously, as the modular MA set-up, so posting won't be as consistent as it was then. But I'll try to keep you filled in, unless it's so boring you all beg me to stop. In the meantime, I better get back to watching Mars Attacks with Seren. She just loves to see the aliens slaughter everyone. Her evil laugh is a work of art.

Pangea review

My review of the Pangea anthology of short stories is live at Bookmunch.

Oxfam Book Festival

For anyone in the Manchester/Cheshire area, consider this a quick shout-out for the Oxfam Book Festival in Althrincham this weekend! Not that I ordinarily go around promoting Edwina Currie's appearances (ugh, Tories, etc), but Jackie Kay will be there, and we all love her. I can't go myself, but here's the press release below. Lots of local talent in the line-up, including Elizabeth Baines and Nicholas Royle. Should be good...


Alderley Edge Community Book Festival 
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September 2012

When?  11 am, Saturday 15 September
Where?  Festival Hall, Talbot Road, Alderley Edge
What?   Edwina Currie opens Alderley Edge Community Book Festival

Former MP and local author, Edwina Currie, will be revealing more secrets about her life at Westminster when she visits Alderley Edge Community Book Festival.

The ex-Conservative member for South Derbyshire  will open the Festival (11am, Saturday 15 September) and entertain audiences with a reading from the latest instalment of her memoirs, Diaries 1992 - 97.

Writer, poet and playwright Jackie Kay, best-selling novelist Erica James and teen fiction author Melvin Burgess will also provide highlights during the book-loving weekend being held on Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September.

They will head an impressive cast of local writers giving talks, workshops and readings of their work at the event being hosted by Oxfam at the Festival Hall in Talbot Road, Alderley Edge.

Novelist, Livi Michael, will introduce her new children’s book, Malkin Child, based on the events of the infamous Pendle Witch trials.  There will be contributions from young adult authors Bryony Pearce and Jon Mayhew.  Also taking part are Manchester poet Mike Garry, short story writer Zoe Lambert, novelists Elizabeth Baines, Nicholas Royle, Conrad Williams and Angelic Reiki practitioner Parveen Smith.  Meanwhile, young adult author, Sherry Ashworth, will teach a creative writing lesson at Wilmslow High School in the week preceding the Book Festival.

The Festival will feature storytelling sessions to entertain younger readers and a fancy dress competition.  Visitors will also enjoy live music and refreshments.

Donated books will be on sale and a number of rare and antique books will go under the hammer with TV auctioneer Adam Partridge – well-known for his regular appearances on Flog It and Bargain Hunt – marshalling the bids!

The aim of the event is to celebrate all things book-related whilst raising funds, through book sales and donations, to boost Oxfam’s work tackling global poverty.

Katie Robb, Oxfam Bookshop manager in Alderley Edge and one of the event’s organisers, said:  “I am so grateful to all the writers who are taking part in the Festival weekend.  We’ve planned some really exciting events to appeal to a huge range of literary tastes and to bookworms of all ages from two upwards!’

There will be a £1 Festival admission charge.  Some events will be ticketed.  

For updates and programme details visit:

Alison Moore review

My review of Alison Moore's The Lighthouse is live at Bookmunch - the book was longlisted for this year's Man Booker when I read and reviewed it, and today it's made it to the shortlist. Congratulations, Alison!

Zadie Smith review

My review of Zadie Smith's NW is live at Bookmunch.

Review of Enough

Jonathan Pinnock, of Mrs Darcy Versus The Aliens and Scott Prize fame, has posted a review of my chapbook on his website. Fancy! I especially like this bit: 'O’Riordan has a wonderful ear for both absurdity and casual cruelty'. Oh, yeah!


Here's advance warning, if you live in Manchester (but fuck it, don't be put off if you live further afield, we're very welcoming here): on Thursday 27th September, I'm going to be performing at a literature-slash-music event as part of the Didsbury Arts Festival 2012. It's called WORD>PLAY and it's organised by the Flashtag crew. The full line-up is on a poster on their blog. I'll be on stage (reading stories) with a fab band called Monkeys In Love - we're the headline act! Good god. It's free in, though, and I won't be doing any singing, so it should all be fine. We'd all love to see you there!

Nuala Ní Chonchúir review

My review of Nuala Ní Chonchúir's Mother America is live at Bookmunch.