Past demons have a way of coming back to haunt us and so it is within Maire T. Robinson’s debut novel: ‘Skin Paper Stone‘ from New Island. Stevie is a medieval historian who moves to Galway City where she meets and falls in love with Kavanagh, a charming but dispirited artist. They’re both trying to figure out their place in the world and escape the echoes that reverberate through this coming-of-age love story.
The Irish Times have called Robinson a writer of ‘warmth and understanding’ while Nuala Ní Choncúír adds that she is ‘a writer that is here to stay’. As a result of winning the Doire Press Chapbook Competition in 2013, Robinson had a collection of short stories published entitled ‘Your Mixtape Unravels My Heart’, while her work can also be found in the newly released Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction 2005 – 2015.
While these successes point to the emergence of a new Irish literary voice of note, the process of drafting and refining the work can be daunting and Robinson seeks to encourage aspiring writers in this regard: ‘Be kind to yourself. Silence your inner critic and your inner perfectionist and allow yourself to explore. You will write some God-awful stuff at the start but that’s okay. You will get better. Keep going. Keep writing.’
What began as writing scripts for a Film Studies degree led her to join the Galway Youth Theatre and the progression to writing one-act plays. Galway city, so powerfully evoked in Skin Paper Stone, is also where she decided to take the next step in her writing career: ‘When I was 27 I went back to university to do a Masters in Writing in NUI, Galway. That was when I really began to start writing fiction and I decided it was what I wanted to focus on.’
Robinson shares, along with many writers, an innate sense that she would find her way to writing eventually: ‘I don’t remember making a conscious decision to become a writer but it was something I did from an early age in some form or other.’
Finding the time to write while working in another job can be difficult: ‘I work Monday to Friday so I usually end up doing most of my writing at weekends. For the last few months I’ve been working on novel edits so that has taken up all of my time.’
Citing Margaret Atwood as a ‘writer that I have always returned to over the years’, she is equally excited when discovering a writer’s work for the first time: ‘I’m constantly finding new writers that I find inspiring. I recently read Fame by Daniel Kehlmann, a collection of linked short stories, which I found fascinating both in terms of form and content. Amy Hempel is another writer I read for the first time recently and I’m completely smitten.’
Now that ‘Skin Paper Stone’ is released, Robinson is looking forward to moving forward with other ideas: ‘I hope that this is just the start and that I can continue to write and to improve. I’d like to publish another short story collection and after that I have an idea for a historical novel. Watch this space!’
With Skin Paper Stone garnering reviews like this, Maire T. Robinson has emerged confidently as an exciting new Irish voice in contemporary literary fiction.
You can also pick up a copy of ‘Skin Paper Stone’ here.