Five Minute Interview with Niamh MacCabe

By Wasafiri Editor on January 1, 2017 in Articles

Born in Dublin, Niamh MacCabe grew up in Paris, in north-west Ireland, and in Washington DC, graduating there from the Corcoran School of Art. She worked overseas in the Animated Film industry, eventually returning full-time to Ireland to raise her children.

She began writing in 2014 and has featured in numerous prize shortlists, as well as winning this year’s Molly Keane Award.

She is published in Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Annual 2016, the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 2016, The Incubator Journal Issue 8, and Bare Fiction Magazine Issue 7. Winner of the Ireland’s Own Writing Competition 2016, Winner of The Short Story Competition 2016, forthcoming publications in Structo Issue 17, A Furious Hope Anthology 2017, and Ireland’s Own Winning Writers Anthology 2017.

She lives in rural North Leitrim with her children.

Twitter @NiamhMacCabe

What are you reading right now?
Joanna Walsh – Vertigo,
Annie Proulx – Close Range,
Lawrence Weschler – Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder.
Where do you write?
In a tiny room in my small house, when it’s just me and the hounds.
Does travelling inspire your writing?
Travelling, getting far away from the above mentioned tiny room is more than inspiring, it is essential. Ideas are borne from accumulated experience. At the risk of sounding like a Safe Cross Code message, to look and listen is crucial to my writing. I try to get away when I can, to see new places and hear new points of view. It is probably true to say that people’s fears and joys are universal, but the way they are expressed and the challenges faced in expressing them are unique to each place.
Paper and pen, or laptop?
Laptop, to accommodate my constant revision, my perpetual shuffling. To allow the beginning to become the end, and the middle to temporarily disappear then get recast as the beginning. And to take full advantage of spell check.
What was the first book you read that made a difference?
The first book that really excited me was Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies. The way he pared down the human condition and manipulated language to suit his ability to expose bleakness and struggle, turning it into a celebration of survival, was a revelation to me.
What one book would you take to a desert island?
The Complete Collection of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, hoping it would be big enough to conceal Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy within it.
Which new author should the world be reading?
Helen Oyeyemi, Carys Davies, Colin Barrett, sorry, it’s hard to confine it to one!
What books are you most looking forward to reading next?
Bi Feiyu – Three Sisters
Sara Baume – Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither
Fouad Laroui – The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers
Guadalupe Nettel – Natural Histories
Jenny Erpenbeck – The Old Child (need to re-read this)
What role does Wasafiri play in international contemporary literature?
Wasafiri is a much needed platform for diverse voices that might not otherwise be heard. Having access to new writers from every corner of the globe enriches the universal voice of our times. It levels the field, and allows authors of all backgrounds to be recognised for their writing, not for their country of origin. Though I am proud of my nationality, my gender, my generation, my cultural identity, I do not wish to be defined by them. I wish to be defined by the calibre of my writing, and Wasafiri’s global approach to contemporary literature provides that. I am so honoured to be part of it!