About the festival:

The Munster Literature Centre


In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award is now recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world and is presented at the end of the festival.

In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the short story festival. The centre also hosts the Cork Spring Poetry Festival each year.









Copyright Mike Hannon

Photo © Mike Hannon



18 - 21 September daily, 9.30am - 12.30pm


Venues TBA, with most being no more than a 10 minute walk from the readings venue, Triskel-Christchurch in South Main Street. The exception is Alannah Hopkin's workshop on 'The Uncanny: Horror and Ghost Stories' which takes place at University College Cork--a fifteen minute walk to Triskel, Christchurch, or a 5 minute bus ride. All venues will be determined by number of participants and mobility considerations.


Prices vary. Please see individual class descriptions for more information.


Maximum number of participants in each workshop is 15.


Click on the panels to view the course descriptions and tutor bios.


Crime Writing with Owen Hill


Price: €150


This workshop is suitable for all levels. First time writers are welcome, as well as those with some experience. We will examine the various parts that add up to a successful mystery novel, using examples from some of the best mystery authors. I will suggest novels to read in advance but reading each entire novel before the workshop is not required. I will provide a handout with highlights from each book.
Day One


Suggested reading: Raymond Chandler’s essay 'The Simple Art of Murder' and Patricia Highsmith’s novel Strangers on a Train.


We will talk about the various types of novel that are defined as “mystery”.  Are you writing noir, a police procedural, a “cozy”? What informs these choices? These categories have rules of form. To what degree will you deviate?

We will also talk about the nuts and bolts of constructing a good “thriller”.  Is an outline necessary? How do you begin? How does a writer build dramatic tension? We will discuss Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for writers.  Are they appropriate for your work?

The day will conclude with a short in-class exercise.      


Day Two

Suggested reading: Ken Bruen’s The Guards.

Setting is an important element in any successful mystery novel. Where is you novel to be set? This is one area where “write what you know” could be good advice. Will you use street names, actual addresses? Is your narrator new to the setting or does he/she know the town like the back of his/her hand? How much “ink” should you use in description?     

There will be a short writing exercise at the end of the session.


Day Three

Suggested reading: Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

We will discuss point-of-view. Who is telling the story? How does he/she fit into the story? We will look at Jonathan Lethem’s “quirky” narrator compared to techniques used by Derek Raymond and Ed McBain.

We will have a longer exercise in this session as we write and then rewrite the same scene using various points-of-view.


Fourth Day

Suggested reading: Chester Himes, A Rage In Harlem.
Do you know the “lingo”? Are you using diction that is appropriate to the place and time of your novel? How much slang is too much slang? Do you understand the technical terms used in the police station, the gun shop, or at the coroner’s inquest? We will look at the work of Chester Himes and James Sallis.

We will end the session with a short exercise.  


Owen HillOwen Hill is the author of two mystery novels, The Chandler Apartments and The Incredible Double. He is currently working as co-editor and annotator of the new edition of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, due from Random House in 2014. Owen has participated in panels at the San Francisco Book Fair, at the Hardboiled for Hard Times symposium, and has given talks on the genre at Bouchercon mystery conventions in Austin and San Francisco. He is a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Independent Review, and has taught writing and literature as a guest teacher at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco State University and Sonoma State University. He currently teaches at the Bay Area Public School.  Also a poet, he received the Howard Moss residency for poetry at Yaddo in 2005. 

Photo © John Minihan

 “Berkeley, California poet Owen Hill captures the taste & texture of the yeasty street & bed life of his native turf with an eye that manages to be fresh & appropriately amoral."  Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

"The mystery is real, the stakes are high; some people make it through while others . . . well, let's just say they're compromised. Here we have the essence of noir, a sense of life lived at the edges."  David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“Owen Hill's breathless, sly, and insouciant mystery novels are full of that rare Dawn Powel-ish essence: fictional gossip.”  Jonathan Lethem


'The Uncanny': Ghost & Horror Stories with Alannah Hopkin


Price: €150 (or €500 for UCC credit. Detailed explanation below.)

What does Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale "The Body-Snatcher" have in common with Roberto Bolaño’s metafiction Nazi Literature in the Americas?

If that question interests you, you are probably (a) a keen reader and (b) a writer of short stories. Perhaps many of your stories remain unpublished because (a) they are too long, too strange and too bizarre or (b) maybe (just maybe) they need some more work.

This workshop on the evolution of the horror story from the Victorian “shocker” to a playful and subversive genre of literary fiction is both a starting point for those with ambitions to write, and a refresher course for those discouraged by constant rejections. Participants are invited to submit a piece of writing no longer than 3000 words (completed story, or part of a longer one) before the course begins for review at the workshops. You will be asked to read specific texts before the course (these will be supplied on registration), and be prepared to take part in discussions and practical writing sessions.

Each three-hour workshop will consist of a close reading and discussion of the core text or texts. There will then be some practical writing exercises, followed by a constructive, structured review of students’ work. 

Day One – Ghosts and Horror Stories

"The Body-Snatcher" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Foreword to Nightshift by Stephen King

1. The attraction of horror fiction has persisted down the years. What is it readers like about being frightened? Stevenson shows, and King tells. Discussion.
2. Writing exercises.
3. Review of students’ work.


Day Two – Vampires – Folk and Fairy tale in Literary Fiction

"The Lady of the House of Love" by Angela Carter (from The Bloody Chamber)

1. Angela Carter objected strongly when her work was described as ‘modern versions of fairy tales’. This piece clearly demonstrates that there is much more involved in her fantastic stories. We will pay close attention to her use of language, her imagery and her sense of humour.
2. Writing exercises.
3. Review of students’ work.

Day Three – The Doppelganger

"William Wilson" by Edgar Allan Poe
Gualta by Javier Marías (from While the Women Are Sleeping)

1. Over 150 years separates these two stories about look-alikes or doubles. Ghostly counterpart, or invention of the subconscious? Real or imaginary? Super ego or alter ego? We investigate the potential of the doppelganger as a story motif.
2. Writing exercises.
3. Review of students’ work.


Session Four – Roberto Bolaño

"Edelmira Thompson de Mendiluce" by Roberto Bolaño (from Nazi Literature in the Americas).

1. The horror story and the fantastic in literature have evolved, often in the hands of writers working outside the mainstream (for example, Flann O’Brien, Jorge Luis Borges), into a powerful imaginative experience in which intellectual disorientation replaces the physical fear produced by the more traditional horror story.
2. Writing exercises.
3. Review of students’ work.


Optional: 'The Uncanny' with Alannah Hopkin may be taken as a University College Cork 5 credit module, on a non-degree occasional basis for a fee of €500. Candidates who pay the higher fee and opt to take the module for credit will be provided with a transcript of marks and will receive written feedback on their work. Candidates would also receive credit for this module should they subsequently register for the full MA in Creative Writing (within a period of five years).


Alannah HopkinAlannah Hopkin has published two novels with Hamish Hamilton, A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country and The Out-haul. Her stories have appeared in the London Magazine, Stand, and the Cork Review among others, and been broadcast on RTE. She is also an arts journalist and has written several non-fiction books including Eating Scenery: West Cork, the People & the Place and The Ship of Seven Murders (co-author).
She is a tutor on Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools scheme, and also runs writing workshops for Cork City Libraries and Cork County Council. She is currently finishing a collection of stories, The Ballydevlin Hauntings.

Short Stories for Beginners with Jon Boilard

Price: €150

Suitable for beginner writers who would like to explore the foundation elements of the short story, and for those who have never written before. Topics include: plot, setting, character, conflict, symbols, point of view, and building themes. Participants will read and discuss their own stories in class and writing exercises will feature in most sessions. The tutor will advise on building good writing habits, finding a writing community and how to send off work for publication.

SESSION ONE:Elements of Fiction

Plot, Setting, Character, Conflict, Symbol, and Point of View are the main elements which fiction writers use to develop a story and its Theme. Setting might be the most important element in one and almost nonexistent in another. Just as a Crime Scene Investigator cannot approach a crime scene looking for a specific clue (e. g., shell casings), you as a reader cannot approach a story deciding to look for a specific element, such as Symbol. This session will look at each element in depth, and the class will look at participants' work in progress. 


SESSION TWO: Sending your work out.

Remember that writing isn't just the act of putting words on paper, it's also sending your completed stories to literary magazines for publication, entering fiction contests, basically flooding the market with your best material—the administrative side of writing can be just as important as the creative side. No agent or editor or publisher is going to come looking for you, you have to make yourself visible. You have to put yourself out there. Writing exercises and advice on establishing habits and sending out submissions features in this session.


SESSION THREE: Shameless Self-Promotion; News & Trends.

This session involves advice from the tutor on how to share and promote your work. Discussion will follow on current trends in fiction. Class will look at participants' work in progress.


SESSION FOUR: Resources for Beginning Writers, Q&A / Contact information.

The tutor will advise students on resources for beginning writers, and there will be a general Q&A session to discuss the topics covered during the week. The class will continue to discuss participants' work in progress.


Jon BoilardJon Boilard was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. He has been living and writing in Northern California since 1986. His short stories have been published in literary journals in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, another received a special mention for the same, a third won the Sean O'Faolain Award and several others have earned individual small press honors. His first novel, A River Closely Watched, was published by MacAdam Cage in 2012. http://jonboilard.com

Fiction Masterclass with Michèle Roberts

Price: €200

Prerequisite: students must have had at least one publication in a professional literary journal to participate. This workshop is suitable for those who are already familiar with the “building blocks” of short stories (plot, characters, dialogue, setting), and would like to push their writing to the next level.

AIM To help and inspire students to consider new ways in to writing short stories; to experiment with form, content, style and voice; to tackle writer’s block; to learn to give and receive constructive criticism; and to improve their writing.

METHOD The course will be hardworking, intensive and fun. It will run mainly as a workshop, with plenty of input from Michele Roberts when needed. It will be constructed around short written exercises (2 or 3 per session) done in class, producing rough early drafts, which will then be read out (time and numbers permitting) in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. We shall sometimes look at short extracts from other writers’ published short stories, as reading is an important way in to writing and improving our writing.

RESULT Students will leave having done a great deal of writing and feeling full of new ideas and inspiration for future short story projects.

Please feel free to email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie should you have any queries regarding qualifying for this course.

Michele RobertsMichèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House which won the WH Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud-stories of sex and love (2010). She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. http://www.micheleroberts.co.uk/


'The Picture Story': photography with John Minihan

Price: €150

Day One : What are your goals as a photographer?

Students will engage with me into process of making photographs, be it with film or digital cameras. Every snapshot is a short story. Critiquing other photographers work, giving students the chance to effectively express their own voice and vision – it’s all about seeing. Do you want to make photography a career?

Day Two : Demystify the technology

The compelling power of an occasion which the still photograph invokes has been proven countless times, the acute eye sees potential images all the time. I will demystify the technology and concentrate on seeing for that’s the beginning of making pictures.

Day Three : The Picture Story
Every aspect of contemporary life has been defined enriched and altered by photography. The ease of producing photographs now – with the digital revolution has transformed everyone into an apparently successful photographer – or has it? Old photographs offer the past to us in a way that words cannot. Photo-stories have a life of their own. People on Bicycles is the theme for my 2013 workshops, whether it’s a bicycle outside a door or someone cycling to work.

Day Four : The Experience of Looking
Photographers have been called many names; Shadow Catchers, Soul Stealers, Face Peelers – after the death of Princess Diana they became social outcasts. Let’s talk about significant photographs that eloquently articulates how the art of photography has shaped the course of history.


Beckett by John MinihanJohn Minihan was born in Dublin in 1946 and raised in Athy, County Kildare. At the age of 12 he was brought to live in London, and went on to become an apprentice photographer with the Daily Mail. At 21 he became the youngest staff photographer for the Evening Standard. Over the years Minihan developed a close relationship with many writers and his photographs of Samuel Beckett show a particular affinity between the two men. William Burroughs once referred to Minihan as "a painless photographer". His friendship with Samuel Beckett produced some of the most remarkable photographs ever taken of the writer.He is currently a freelance photographer specialising in 'the arts'. http://johnminihan.blogspot.ie

Photo © John Minihan


Cancellation Policy (Please read carefully.)

After you have paid for the workshop, should you have to cancel for any reason, we will exercise our best efforts to find a participant to replace you. If we can do so, we will refund your tuition payment. If we cannot replace you, we will not refund your tuition payment. The later the cancellation date, the more difficult it is for staff to find a qualified participant. Though we do recognize that emergencies happen, and we will do our best to help you, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to replace you in the event of a cancellation.

Mobility Requirements: Most of the venues have wheelchair access but not all. If you have limited mobility every effort will be made to accommodate you, but best chance is through an early booking. The Munster Literature Centre regrets that the venue for the Story Into Song workshop is not wheelchair accessible.

Your workshop place will be secured only after full payment. Every effort will be made to make sure that the programme proceeds as advertised but the Munster Literature Centre accepts no responsibility for changes made due to circumstances beyond our control. Refunds will be given only if a workshop is cancelled.

All workshop participants will be offered a 50% discount on festival reading tickets which go on sale in late July. Participants with booked places will be informed in early September of exact venue. Any other relevant requirements such as reading materials or submitted work (as indicated in some workshop descriptions) will be communicated to you in good time.

As workshops sell out notification of such will be posted on this page.

How to Book
We will be accepting workshop bookings from July.
Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).



Seán Ó Faoláin  International Short Story Competition

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