Panel Discussions

Three 45-minute panel discussions form part of the day-long #WomenXBorders programme of events at the Irish Writers Centre on 11 March. Panels are made up of writers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Please note: due to space constraints, events on 11 March are only open to programme participants.

1. Boundaries, Barriers and Borders: Creating Writing Communities 11.30 – 12.15 [Harnett Room]
This interactive panel discussion will look at writing communities: how they develop, their potential to break down barriers, and how they, alongside other supports, may support women’s writing careers. The event hopes to raise awareness of supports that are already in place and to develop ideas for future initiatives.

MoyraChair: Moyra Donaldson is a writer, editor and creative writing facilitator from Co Down. She has experience of working in literary, community and health care settings and was a founding member of the Creative Writers Network. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems and The Goose Tree, and has worked collaboratively with visual artists. Moyra will look at some of the barriers that face women writers and how they have been and can be addressed in on-going ways. She will also speak a little about her experience in previous networking initiatives in the North.

shelley traceyOriginally from South Africa, Shelley Tracey now lives in Northern Ireland. Her poems and stories have been published in a range of collections. She has set up and facilitated creative writing groups in a wide range of settings. In 2015, she was Artist in the Community for the Arts Council Northern Ireland with the A Write to a Sense of Belonging writing project. Shelley will talk about setting up creative writing workshops in community settings to enhance intercultural awareness. She will also share examples of strategies in these workshops for developing a sense of belonging to a community writing group and to wider communities of writers.

katie dublinKatie McGreal is a journalist and a meditation teacher from Dublin. She works with Raidió Fáilte in Belfast and contributes to the newspaper Seachtain, distributed within Wednesday’s Irish Independent, as well as various magazines. She also facilitates a cross-border writing group and a feminist group, both based in Belfast. Katie will discuss the importance of a writing community; how it can motivate you to continue writing and how it can benefit your writing greatly. She will also discuss the importance of female communities and women working together to strengthen their voice. 

GrethaGretha Viana is a member of the IWC’s New Irish Communities writing group.  Brazilian born Gretha Viana is an emerging writer and a member of the IWC’s New Irish Communities writing group. She is a documentary producer based in Dublin. In 2016, Gretha was one of the 15 students selected for the University Women in the Arts Scheme, a mentoring scheme to form the next UK generation of female leaders in the arts. Gretha will talk about her experience within the New Irish writing community in the IWC , on cultural space and the importance of the writer’s voice to overcame boundaries and also sharing her experience of the supporting women in the arts mentoring scheme.

2. The Writer’s See-Saw: How to Balance Life as a Writer with Career and Caring Responsibilities. Can it be done? 14.00 – 14.45 [Harnett Room]
This panel discussion will be of interest to anyone in a demanding career, or in a caring role, whether as a parent, or a carer for elderly relatives, sick or disabled spouse, etc., who is trying to pursue a career in the arts, particularly writing prose and/or poetry.

Topics will include:

  • Time management
  • Emergencies and deadlines
  • Too exhausted to create anything
  • Distractions

Kelly Creighton smallChair: Kelly Creighton lives in Newtownards with her family. She cares for her four children, including one on the autistic spectrum. Kelly writes novels and short stories, mainly. Her début novel The Bones of It (Liberties Press) was the San Diego Book Review 2015 Book of the Year, and nominated for the Kate O’Brien Award. Kelly was runner-up for both the Michael McLaverty Award (2014) and shortlisted in many other poetry and short story competitions. She founded and edits The Incubator literary journal, facilitates creative writing workshops and community arts projects. She is a professional member of the Irish Writers’ Centre.

Kerry Buchanan smallKerry Buchanan spent many years working as a veterinary surgeon. Since then, she has been a veterinary sub-editor for an educational software company, she’s taught ICT, and has run a small business. These days she is a full-time carer for her father, who suffers from dementia, as well as her three children, two of whom are on the autistic spectrum. Living in rural County Down with her husband, children, and a menagerie of animals, she took up writing in Spring 2014. Kerry has several short stories published, and is currently subbing her fantasy novel, The Blacksmith’s Apprentice.

realtainRéaltán Ní Leannáin is from Northern Ireland but has been living in Dublin since the 80s. Her poetry collection, Turas Ailse, reflects on living with a cancer diagnosis. Her acclaimed short story collection, Dílis, reflects the daily lived – and loved – experience of women during and after the Troubles. Réaltán was the first Irish writer to take up residency abroad as part of the European Other Words initiative in Friesland 2015. She will explore the challenges travelling between two cities – Belfast and Dublin – while working in QUB, and combining paid employment, caring duties in both cities and writing!

CatherineCatherine Tinley writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, and dog. 


3. Self-Publishing : From Page to Publication and Beyond 12.45 – 13.30 [Harnett Room]
With many writers now choosing to self-publish – and with many more curious about it – this panel discussion will provide tips and advice from those who have been through the process, as well as those currently in the middle of it. The proposed participants have, or are, publishing books for varying age-groups, and in different genres, so can offer insights from across the board.

Topics of discussion will include:

  • Why self-publish?
  • Facts vs fictions of self-publishing
  • Hiring an editor (why it’s essential…)
  • The importance of professional cover design for your book
  • Marketing your book on and offline (relevant for both traditionally and self-published authors in the audience)
  • Securing reviews (again, relevant for both SP and traditionally published authors)
  • Q&As

Catherine Ryan Howard_colour (1)Chair: Catherine Ryan Howard: Dublin-based Catherine previously self-published two travel memoirs – Mousetrapped and Backpacked – along with Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. She released her debut thriller novel – Distress Signals – in 2016, through a traditional publisher, and is now working on her next book. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

Her debut thriller, Distress Signals,  has been optioned for television by Jet Stone Media and been shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year at the 2016 Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. 

In 2010, Catherine began self-publishing. She began to speak on the subject for the likes of Faber Academy, the Irish Writers’ Centre, Guardian Masterclasses and others. (Author headshot credit Steve Langan at

Claire SavageClaire Savage: Self-publishing her debut children’s novel, Magical Masquerade, (for ages 8-12) in April 2017. Claire Savage is a copywriter/arts journalist/prose writer/poet from the north coast of Northern Ireland. Her short stories have appeared in The Lonely Crowd and The Incubator journals, along with SHIFT Lit – Derry writing magazine, The Launchpad journal and The Ghastling.

In July 2014 Claire was awarded a National Lottery grant from the Arts Council NI as part of their Support for Individual Artists Programme. In September 2016 she was also chosen by Lagan Online as one of their 12NOW (New Original Writers). She is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut children’s novel, which she will publish in spring 2017.

Claire’s poetry has been published in the Abridged journal, Community Arts Partnership (CAP) poetry anthologies (2014/15), the Co Derry Post newspaper and poetry e-zine, A New Ulster. Another is forthcoming in an anthology in memory of Seamus Heaney and one of her poems was shortlisted in the Fourth Annual Bangor Poetry Competition 2016.

Angeline King 200Angeline King: Self-published author of A Belfast Tale and Snugville Street (adult fiction). Currently working on her next book. Irish author of novels and stories. “I love revealing the rich cultural identities in Ulster through international perspectives – a French exchange in Snugville Street and an American exchange in A Belfast Tale“As an Ulster-Scots speaker, I also enjoy experimenting with dialect in the body of prose.”


jo zebedeeJo Zebedee: SP and traditionally published author of YA SF/fantasy books, including The Inheritance Trilogy and Inish Carraig. “I write science fiction and fantasy in a little corner of Northern Ireland. Sometimes I write about Earth, sometimes my space opera world of Abendau. I have a healthy interest in lots of things like reading, and writing, and gardening. I have an unhealthy interest in sexy space pilots, aliens and all things Space Opera. When I’m not writing I run a management consultancy and run after children, dogs, fish, not necessarily in that order, ably supported by my husband.”