Monday, 12 December 2011

Niall Williams' View from Kiltumper

There is something about the stillness of December. There is something that is not quite of this world in the watery light between showers on a December afternoon in Kiltumper. The older I get the more I have felt it. Perhaps it is the dying of the light. Perhaps on days when the wind is not blowing and the rain not actually falling but held somewhere in the air between earth and sky so it seems the black sycamores stand in a grey sea it is easier to feel this sense of things being paused.

And that is something I have come to appreciate more each year, this pause, this moment when there is a sense of no momentum. In my experience it is rare enough. But this afternoon nothing comes or goes on the Kiltumper road. There has not been a single car or tractor or horse for three hours. There is not even the noising of a distant engine in some far field as there once was in the days when cattle were wintered out and silage ferried down the road in black swaying balls on a tractor spike. Now the cattle and the farmers are all in and the grey drowse of the afternoon is punctured only by the small sounds of birds.

I spend the afternoon in that greatest of luxuries, inside a book, and when I look up the window is blurry with rain. But no rain seems to be falling. If it falls at all, if it is not just a quality of the air of West Clare, a general wateriness, as if the sea has, in part reclamation, taken first the air, it falls with such quiet that it does not disturb the world of the book.

This is not always the case. The autumn gave us months of every kind of downpour, every kind of lashing, crashing, pelting, belting shower, (Is it a shower if it lasts all day?) Every kind of straight-down, slanting, sideways, in-your-face, at-your-ears, down-your-collar, into your shoes, rain. Odd-shaped silver ponds rose in the Kiltumper fields. Even the birds were astonished and, it seemed to me, fattened from less flying.

And perhaps that’s why the stillness of this afternoon when there is no wind at all and no rain falling seems so filled with this sense of pause that I close the book I’m reading and just sit with the grey light. The trees are spectral and dark and somehow noble in their standing. There’s a sense of another year’s ending and that they like us have endured what, literally, came at them.

Between the house and trees is the old haybarn. Now it houses only our turf pile, and each year it rusts a little more. I know I need to attend to it; two full panels of galvanised iron blew off it this year and so now in its roof are large rectangles of the western sky. Another panel is only partly hinged and sings a sawing ache when the wind comes from the north. A big storm could take it.  But this afternoon, when no wind blows, the haybarn too stands still and endures in the dying light.  

I watch the nothing happening until the night dark comes at half past four to take the trees and haybarn inside it. And I think again: yes, there is something about the stillness of December.                  

Monday, 7 November 2011

The National Academy of Writing Book One

The launch of BOOK ONE from The National Academy of Writing, edited by Richard Beard and Rena Brannan is available from Amazon. (Here's the link to order.)

Excerpts from 12 writers are anthologized, and included among them are two chapters from my novel in progress: TITUS SPARROW PARK

Thursday, 20 October 2011

National Academy of Writing Anthology Book Launch

Nine months, 150 pages, 35,000 words, 4 characters, 3 countries later....two chapters of my novel in progress, working title TITUS SPARROW PARK will feature along with 11 other writers in the NAW (National Academy of Writing) soon to be published Anthology on 9th November in Foyles in London.

In a sentence, here's the plot:  A woman goes in search of her daughter's mother. 

Titus Sparrow Park by C.B. Williams interweaves stories of three characters into a tapestry of love and loss that stretches from the west of Ireland and London to New York City and Boston. At its heart is the love of a widowed mother for her adopted daughter and the personal and physical journey she takes to insure that her daughter will never be alone.

Iris Bowen, widow, mother, gardener, and blogger, is prompted to search for her daughter’s mother when her health is jeopardized. Her daughter must not be alone in the world. All Iris has is a twenty-year-old envelope with an address in Boston. 

In New York City, Rowan Blake, bachelor and landscape architect, is on his own journey. In danger of losing the company he founded with former lover and current business partner, Lilian, his life is unraveling. He’s arrived at a place where he feels no connection to the world, where the things he’s been working for mean nothing, and where the person who held the most influence over his life, Grandfather Burdoch, suddenly dies.

In London, Rose, gifted young violinist at the Royal Academy, is coming to terms with the loss of her father. She’s trying to lose herself in music, live between the staves, rise to the impossible demands of a brilliant but irascible teacher in England’s oldest conservatoire. But no matter how she practices it seems she is never good enough. Her teacher hates her, or is perhaps a little in love with her.

Over one long hot blue summer in Boston, New York, London, and the west of Ireland, these characters and their stories entwine with life-altering consequences. Titus Sparrow Park is a novel about hope, about what happens when your life comes to a full stop.  It’s about carrying on, about the comfort of strangers and the surprising connections that unite us all. All journeys lead to Sparrow Titus Park as the characters discover they too are inextricably linked – like plants in a bed, lines in an architectural sketch, notations in a musical composition.

An accessible literary novel, Titus Sparrow Park is told through multiple narratives, explores the belief that love comes in many shades and hues, and along the spectrum it is the sacrifices we make for those we love which ultimately restore and sustain us. 

To love selflessly is our gift.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

World's Best Dog... R.I.P.

Huckleberry, Kiltumper's Golden Retriever, passed away a few weeks ago.  We're all sad.  He was one week shy of his 15th birthday.

When I look at his photo, it makes me cry...When I round the corner of the boreen that passes in front of our house into our drive my reflexes prepare to be welcomed by him.  But he's not there.

Friday, 5 August 2011

My Character Iris has Started a Blog

Candlelabra Primula... 

Those are the violet ones in the foreground. Aren't they gorgeous? And blue Nepeta, which go on flowering for ever.  In the background you can see a cerulean blue Delphinum and the ghost-like feather balls of Pulsatilla.

Meanwhile, this photo from Kiltumper is the new header for Iris Bowen's blog...  a character in the novel I'm writing.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

National Academy of Writing

Angel from Kiltumper
Okay so it's not a spring photo.  But I'm thinking about Angels lately.  My sister sent me 3 from overseas.  How they found their way to me is beyond knowing.  (A cloud of unknowing sometimes does be enveloping me but that's another story.)  So I accepted them with gratitude.  You never know when someone has your back.

Meanwhile, over in London, I've been participating in the National Academy of Writing Masterclasses in -- writing.  One of 12 writers selected, I'm working on a novel with a working title of Chelsea Morning.  I had submitted 5000 words of Two Blue Moons -- a finished, yet unpublished work -- but have decided to keep that in a drawer.  Once upon a time, a NY agent who shall remain nameless told me it was more like a second novel than a first novel.  So logic dictates I should write the ubiquitous 'first novel' first.

So wish me luck...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Kiltumper, Kilmihil, West Clare, Ireland

Christine's Garden by Doug Miller (

Why didn't I think of this before?

 Posting Doug's beautiful painting which he painted one fine week in the summer of '09....

I just want to tell anybody who lands here that if you want a Giclee copy of this, contact Doug at his website .  I'm buying one!

For the record, this is how my garden looks -- well one aspect of it -- the old stone cabin window -- draped with an old fashioned rambling rose and astillbe and japanese anenome and filipendula.  Don't mind the weeds...