Brian Conaghan, the multi-award winning Scottish author, is coming to Children’s Books Ireland’s Conference, Belonging, this year, to speak on our #WeAreThePoets panel.
No stranger to disappointment, having received 217 rejection letters over the years, Brian is a perfect example of how perseverance and dedication can pay off. Not only has he gone on to be published, but he has been shortlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal for his novel When Mr Dog Bites, received the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award for his The Bombs that Brought us Together, and only just this year won Children’s Books Ireland’s Award for Fiction for his novel The Weight of a Thousand Feathers.
Despite his initial struggles to get published, Brian refuses to play things careful, focusing on difficult topics such as mental health issues, refugees, and grief, while still maintaining the belief that “great moments of tragedy need to be underpinned by humour.” He refuses to speak down to his young audience, trusting in them to handle stories that challenge them and force them to consider the experiences of those living in the margins. Something that was clearly at play within his verse novel We Come Apart, a collaboration with Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan, which details an unconventional love story about two teenagers from seemingly completely different worlds coming together.
His most recent novel, The M Word, maintains this trend of complex and compelling narratives, dealing with a young woman’s struggles to handle a mother falling into depression, and her own grief over a lost friend. Brian continues to write books that deal with people that often find themselves forgotten, and that show that everybody has a story worth being heard.
We’re excited to hear his perspective on the impact of poetry on storytelling for young people at this year’s conference, and the role he sees his own work playing within our theme of Belonging. Make sure you don’t miss Brian’s conversation with Meg Grehan and Dean Atta, led by Máire Zepf, Irish Language Poet and Author of books such as Tubaiste ar an Titanic and Nóinín.
Independent.ie, Speaking up for Tourette’s – Emily Hourican interviews Brian Conaghan