Finding the balance

The apartment she had rented was in an old coast guard station, a long stone building with a square lookout tower at one end. It was damp, and she couldn’t get any of her clothes properly dry after her long sea walks. A fug of cold followed her everywhere. The photography was frustrating; creativity eluded her. 

She had fought for this opportunity, that was the thing. ‘You have such a great eye for faces,’ her mother had said. She meant well, the poor woman, could not grasp why somebody would want to take a picture of a stone or an upturned boat when a lucrative career taking tedious family snapshots in a Clontarf studio awaited her. All she had to do was admit her failure. 

She walked down the steps to the rocky beach and started yet again along the foreshore.

‘I’m going home today.’

‘You’re so close, Jenna, you need to stay.’ This was Oliver, or rather his voice. Oliver had been a brilliant photography lecturer, an enthusiastic lover and, as it turned out, a lousy motorcyclist. 

‘Its no good, Ols. I’ve tried. I’ve given it everything.’

‘That’s just it. You’ve been trying too hard. You need to simply let go and it will happen.’

‘That’s bollox. Just because you’re dead doesn’t make you wise.’

‘Just because I’m a made up voice in your head doesn’t make me wrong.’

There was a sandy beach along the walk with a top beach of pebbles. Each day, as she had passed, sometimes several times a day, she had stopped to pick up stones of varying sizes. Today, she took a tiny pebble. It was sea-stone smooth, worn down by generations of waves. She put it in her pocket. 

Her camera stayed in the bag. She had snapped every inch of the beaches, the rocks, the fields, the craggy islands, the distant hills with their foggy cloud tops. She was after that essential moment that transformed everything, that point at which the wrist became the hand, the neck became the head. All she had to show for it was a computer disk full of tedious landscapes and close-ups of seaweed. 

She came to the ruin of the boat house, a concrete structure faced with stone, a concrete slip rolling down from it but making it nowhere near the sea before it decayed into nothingness. Here she had been building her pile, stone on stone on stone. It seemed almost done. She pulled out the pebble and balanced it on top. It was perfect, as if all of creation had been there purely for this moment, for this topping out. 

She took out her camera to capture the pile, the boat house and those elements of her life that she was letting go.

‘I love you, Ols, but I need to leave you here.’

‘You don’t, Jenna. I know I’m dead, but you’ll always regret shutting me out, letting go of your art. You are beautiful, you need to express that.’

‘I can’t do it, it’s too hard.’

’Take the pebble, Jenna. Take the pebble from the top and take me with you.’

She reached out, her hand shivering. 

Overhead, a gull circled slowly. In the field, cattle grazed. Crabs scuttled under the rocks. Fish swam. Jenna’s hand hovered…

3rd Place in Flash500 Short Story Competition

After long listing last year, this year, my story In the orbit of Pluto won third place in the annual Short Story competition. Here’s the comments of judge Sheila Burgher

Another terrifying and truly shocking story, I was literally gripping the sides of my chair while I read this and willing this story to end differently to the way it did. Set in contemporary Dublin, the story focuses on a gangland killing and the terrible consequences of that act. From the outset, I knew this one wasn’t going to end well but I kept hoping I was wrong. Despite this, the ending truly did shock me and I salute whoever wrote this brilliantly crafted story. Rich in the Dublin dialect, the tragic lives revealed in this story lingered long after I’d finished.

Read the story plus the winner here: http://www.flash500.com/index_files/ssr17.htm

3rd place in Flash500 Short Story competition

After long listing last year, this year, my story In the orbit of Pluto won third place in the annual Short Story competition. Here’s the comments of judge Sheila Burgher

Another terrifying and truly shocking story, I was literally gripping the sides of my chair while I read this and willing this story to end differently to the way it did. Set in contemporary Dublin, the story focuses on a gangland killing and the terrible consequences of that act. From the outset, I knew this one wasn’t going to end well but I kept hoping I was wrong. Despite this, the ending truly did shock me and I salute whoever wrote this brilliantly crafted story. Rich in the Dublin dialect, the tragic lives revealed in this story lingered long after I’d finished.

Read the story plus the winner here: http://www.flash500.com/index_files/ssr17.htm

 

The Incubator Issue 10

I was delighted my story When I Lay My Burden Down was selected for the latest edition of the online journal of writing The Incubator. A fabulous magazine, just finished reading it. I feel in very talented company. Well worth taking the time to browse.

 

 

Featherweight by Eileen Lynch

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/featherweight-a-short-story-by-eileen-lynch-1.2769603

Dark story by Eileen Lynch in the Hennessey New Irish Writing feature of the Irish times. A school girl is having a dangerous affair with a much older man, mirrored in the menace of a tree full of crows in the garden.

First prize and publication in Writers’ Forum

My story Death is the sound of distant thunder, strongly based on the third chapter of my novel, has won first prize in the monthly Writers’ Forum magazine competition and will appear in issue 168.

I was delighted with this, first big win since my story in New Irish Writing late 2013, and also because it reflects well on the novel.

 

Short list for two stories

After a long break mostly writing my novel, I have two short listings.

Death is the sound of distant thunder, a war/love story set in the same world as my novel is shortlisted with the Writer’s Forum Magazine, and I’m also on the shortlist for the People’s College competition:

http://www.peoplescollege.ie/news/2015/04/28/peoples-college-short-story-competition/

Happy days!

Preview of my new novel, The Lightning Bird

Click here for a dynamic version of this synopsis (Scroll down once the image appears)

Click here to read three chapters

 

What would you do if you loved somebody so much that you were driven to destroy them? Two generations of the Slane family must answer this question, tossed about on the turmoil of one war after another, pursued by the dark power of the Lightning Bird. Jimmy and Maureen fight with the British Army in the Boer war, but evil follows them home from the killing fields of Ladysmith.

Their son Alex fights the same demon, first in the Royal Hibernian Military School, where he kills another boy, but persuades his friend Finn to take the blame, and later he is mobilised with the British army during the Easter Rising. Finn, meanwhile, fights with the IRB in the GPO along with Alex’s cousin Caer, who has sworn her love to him. Finn is wounded and, when they try to escape, they are nearly killed. Alex rescues them but is labeled a traitor as a result.

The three hide out in bleak west of Ireland, but Alex’s demon draws him into involvement with the IRA, and later, in the heat of the violence, he has an affair with Caer, leaving her pregnant. As the war of independence drowns them in bloodletting, they are forced to come to a realisation of themselves and each other. The ultimate revelation that Alex’s true mother was a Boer woman who died in a concentration camp drives him to discover things about himself and Caer that finally lead him to sacrifice himself to save his lover and child.