Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Lucy Caldwell's strong character shines through

Belfast-born author Lucy Caldwell dropped in on Finaghy Library last night to discuss her latest work, All the Beggars Riding, as part of the One City, One Book festival.

The award-winning novelist and playwright was in conversation with literary critic Hugh Odling-Smee, whose thoughtful line of questioning related specifically to 'character', which Caldwell said for her "always comes first".

"The plot will come out of the character," she revealed, adding that she doesn't like to feel "like a puppet master who's pushing her characters along".

The chat weaved in and around the subject engagingly, covering the process of naming characters, Caldwell's "compassion" for her characters and how location – in the case of this story, Belfast – is "as important a character as any".

Encouraging the audience to follow her characters' emotional logic "beat by tiny beat", the wordsmith also offered tips for aspiring writers – fill a notebook with ideas and a shoe box with clippings.

With the sun streaming in and Caldwell's personality shining just as brightly, the evening flew by.

The only off note came when a mobile phone rang and the owner spent several minutes trying to locate it on her person and then actually answering it.

Still, both Caldwell and Odling-Smee dealt with the incident calmly and in good humour, which showed real – ahem – character.

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