A bit about me

Welcome to my website –  I’ve designed it so that you can get to know a bit about me and my writing life.

As I was born in Scotland and have lived in Ireland since 1981, I think of myself as both Scottish and Irish. I’ve been writing – and reading, of course – for most of my life but my writing really only took off when I came to live in Ireland. At that time, literature was in the air in Ireland in a way that it probably wasn’t – and I imagine still isn’t – in many other places. Dublin really is a wonderful city for writers!

Since those early days, I’ve followed a parallel professional path as a teacher, curriculum developer and educational consultant. Along the way I did a Masters and then a PhD in Education, which have fed into my work with national and international institutions, both here in Ireland, and in Europe. If you want to know more about my work in education, training and social science research, head over to my LinkedIn Profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethmcskeane/

 This web-site has a different focus – my Writing Life. 

What I write

I have been writing poetry and short stories for a long time, and my first novel, “Canticle,” was launched on May 15th this year.   

Poetry
I have had three collections of poetry published to date:
     “So Long, Calypso,” (Turas Press, 2017)
     “Snow at the Opera House” (New Island, 2002)
     “In Flight” (Lapwing, 1996).

My books are for sale on the Turas Press website: http://www.turaspress.ie

Many individual poems have also appeared in different publications, including: Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, The Shop, The Irish Pages,
     The Stinging Fly,  Flare and others.

If you would like to read a few of my most recently-published poems, visit: 
     Gutter Magazine 17, January 2018, http://www.guttermag.co.uk/
     Stepaway Magazine No. 22, 2017,   http://stepawaymagazine.com/archives/3405
     Orbis 178, Winter, 2016 , http://www.orbisjournal.com/

Short Stories
My short stories have appeared in various publications.

    The Honest Ulsterman published “Underground”  in November 2017:  http://humag.co/prose/underground

   “The Games” appeared in The Irish Pages in 2009, Vol. 6, No.1:  

https://www.jstor.org/stable/41412623#page_scan_tab_contents 
Other stories have been published in Census, The Cork Literary Review and others. 

Awards
In 1999 I won the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer of the Year Award  and the Poetry Award.

My story “Leopold’s Violin” was one of the 2011 Irish Writers Centre Lonely Voice showcase winners.

My first novel, “Canticle,” was a winner in the 2016 Irish Writers Centre/Greenbean Novel Fair. It has a whole page to itself, see below!

Canticle

My first novel, “Canticle” was launched in the Irish Writers Centre in May, 2018 . The eminent novelist Anthony Glavin generously agreed to launch the book, which seemed fitting, as he was one of the judges of the IWC/Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 who nominated “Canticle”  a winner that year.  

Since then, “Canticle” has received excellent reviews. The Historical Novel Society, in its quarterly publication Historical Novel Review, named it an Editor’s Pick in February, 2019. Kristen McQuinn’s review gave the book high praise: 

“The characters, every one of them, have depth and life… The central theme of what truth is, both in politics and within the Church, remains so relevant today that this is a difficult novel to put down… The complexity of the politics involved, the careful layering of the plot and the unfolding events, make this a novel that you will want to savor… Very highly recommended.”

If you would like to read Kristen’s full review, you can find it here:  https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/canticle/

Mairéad Hearne of bookblog Swirl and Thread gave “Canticle” another glowing review, especially liked the main character:

“Fray Martín de Sepúlveda is a wonderful character, reminding me of C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake. His determination to uncover the truth, his strong principles, his unshakable morals, his cynicism and his overall personality make him the perfect detective for the time… [Canticle] is an intelligent and engrossing read about a very fascinating period of history. Liz McSkeane has created a superb character in Fray Martín and I do hope that he continues his detective work in a future novel.”

You can read Mairéad’s full review of “Canticle” on her Swirl and Thread blog here: http://www.swirlandthread.com/canticle-liz-mcskeane/

“Canticle” is an historical novel set in Renaissance Spain, inspired by the poetry and the life of the sublime mystic poet, St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz, 1542 – 1591). His writing is as well-known in Spain as Shakespeare is in the English-speaking world and in fact, he was a near-contemporary of Shakespeare.

“Canticle” is also a detective story.  It follows the trials of a cynical Dominican friar who gets the job of investigating some of the mysteries of San Juan’s life – he lived in turbulent times, when religious orders were as enmeshed in politics as our political parties are today.  The investigator, Fray Martín, is ordered to search for the lost manuscripts of San Juan’s poems, especially his “Cántico Espiritual” – the Canticle – hence, the title of the book

If you would like to buy “Canticle”, head over to https://turaspress.ie/shop/canticle-by-liz-mcskeane/ and/or check out where you can find out independent bookstores where the book is on sale. You’ll find a list on the Turas Press website here:   https://turaspress.ie/our-stockists/

And if you’d  prefer to read it on your ebook reader, the good news is that “Canticle” will be available as an ebook by mid-March, 2020! 

I developed a fascination with San Juan’s life and work when I read him as a student of French and Hispanic Studies at Glasgow University, way back in the mists of time…so researching and writing this novel really was a labour of love. I hope people who read “Canticle” will become as intrigued by this strange and wonderful person, and his poetry, as I am myself.

I spent many happy hours in the Sala Cervantes of the Biblioteca Nacional de España, researching the times,  poring over 400-year-old manuscripts (not San Juan’s originals, sadly, which really are lost).   

If you have already read “Canticle” – thank you for your interest and support. If you’d like to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon UK or USA, you will find the links here:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40275383-canticle

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Canticle-Liz-McSkeane/dp/0995791635

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GDTH49Z/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Continue reading “Canticle”

Other Work

Translation

Ever since my time as a student of languages at Glasgow University, I’ve had a keen interest in translation. The most extensive translation work I’ve done so far was the 2014 “Twenty Poems/Veinte Poemas” book for the Colombian Embassy in London, with the poet  and my good friend Anamaría Crowe Serrano.  Here we are, Anamaría and I, with the Colombian Ambassador at the launch in the Irish Writers’ Centre in October, 2014.

Radio Work

This is going back a long way! In the early 1990s I worked in the Educational Programmes Department of RTÉ for a year and a half. After I left, I had the pleasure of working with Peter Mooney, now sadly deceased, on three radio documentaries. Thanks to the RTÉ archives, you can still listen to them.

“A Stain Upon the Silence,” was produced to coincide with the first Beckett Festival back in 1991:  http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2010/1203/646565-radio-documentary-samuel-beckett/

“The Bread and Butter Man” celebrated the life and work of George Bernard Shaw:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2016/0301/771757-bread-and-butter-man-george-bernard-shaw/

The “Immortal Memory” is the key-note speech traditionally made at a Burns’ Supper, the annual celebration by Scots (and others) worldwide of the life and poetry of Robert Burns on Burns’ Day, January 25th, his birthday. Here is our tribute to Scotland’s Bard:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2011/0208/646630-radio-documentary-immortal-memory-robert-burns/

Contact

I always relish the opportunity to share my work, at readings, in workshops, panel discussion, radio programmes or festivals.  If you think I might be a good fit for an event, do get in touch. You can contact me using the form below:

And if you are interested in writing a review of any of my books, let me know. 

I’m on Facebook and Twitter – feel free to follow, like, share or all of the above!