Beginners pluck with Helena Mulkerns

Daughter of an independent film maker, and niece of an author, Helena has always been encouraged to read and write.

“I wrote stories in copy books, and even had a table of contents.”

After college, Helena moved to Paris. She learnt French at the Sorbonne, and started to write for Hot Press magazine.

“I was hanging around backstage with various bands,” she says.

Then it was off to New York writing mainly about the Arts for Hot Press, The Irish Times and The New York Times.

“There was a fabulous arts scene at the time.”

She started writing short stories, and was published in various anthologies.

“And I co-founded Banshee, a collective of Irish women artists.”

Then Helena started work with the United Nations, in headquarters, before going out on peace missions. She ended up in the Press Office. Over the years she worked in Guatemala, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Afghanistan.

Returning to Ireland in 2008, Helena lived in Wexford, where she set up the Cáca Milis cabaret. She now lives in Dublin.

Who is Helena Mulkerns

Date/place of birth: 1961/Dublin.

Education: St Raphaela’s in Kilmacud. Muckross in Donnybrook for her Leaving Certificate. University College Dublin: English and Spanish. National University of Ireland, Galway, Masters in Publishing.

Home: Dublin.

Family: Mother and Aunt, the writer Val Mulkerns.

The Day Job: Writer. “I’m involved in book design and new publishing.”

Interests: Singing and organising Arts events.

Favourite Writers: Isobel Allende; Louise Erdrich; Sherman Alexie: Michael Ondaatje, Colm Toibin; Colum McCann; Chimamanda Nigozi Adichi.

Second Novel: “I’m working on a novel set in Africa.”

Top Tip: Keep a diary, and a notebook. There will always be things that you find inspiring and notes will give you more to work with.

Web: www.helenamulkerns.com Twitter: @helenamul

The Debut

Ferenji and Other Stories; Doire Press, €12.95

These beautifully observed stories give the reader a glimpse into the horror, the beauty and the strangeness of life in the field. Whether she is describing the heartbreak of a family whose child has been damaged by a landmine; the impermanence of love on the field, or an exquisite encounter on a beach at dawn, Mulkerns creates magic.

The Verdict: Writing with authority, Mulkerns has produced a quite wonderful collection of linked stories.

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