John Kelly and Lia Mills. Smock Alley Theatre, Saturday 17th – Review by Helen O’Leary
This reading brought together writers John Kelly and Lia Mills, whose new novels explore Dublin past and a future Dublin.
Reading from his new novel ‘From Out of the City” Kelly introduced an imagined Dublin forty years from now. It is a grittier, seedier version of the capital; a city that has disregarded its history and sold its soul. Told from the viewpoint of an elderly gentleman, the monologue peppered with witticisms and humour, lent itself well to a reading aloud.
Lia Mills shared an excerpt from her recent novel “Fallen”. This book is inspired by events of the Easter Rising and the turmoil and chaos of the time. The narrator is a young Dublin woman Katie, whose own life reflects the city’s chaos following her twin brother’s death in the Great War.
Mick Heaney chaired this event, and a relaxed and easy discussion followed the readings. The parallels and the contrasts of the two novels set in Dublin were debated. Both writers reflected on the influence of Dublin, its people and history on their writing.
Mills shared her experience with cancer that placed a new perspective on the importance of writing in her life. Kelly spoke of his self-doubt and self- examination, before sitting down to write his current novel.
For aspiring writers, and there seemed to be a few in attendance, Mills and Kelly offered insights into the process. Both these accomplished writers spoke with great honesty about the sheer hard graft involved in bringing an idea as far as the bookshelf. Yet for all the tortures of the pen they described, they spoke with passion and pride about their craft.
This was a great event to sample a flavour of a festival that’s all about Dublin and writing. Wandering back into the city sunshine, I felt a little bit inspired to follow their final bit of advice, which was to read and read and read some more.
Dublin Writers Festival runs until May 25th.