Multimedia from Derry-based Authors

Readings and interviews in partnership with the Verbal Arts Centre

Verbal Arts CentreJennifer Johnston

Headphone Icon LISTEN to Jennifer Johnston:
Interview (3.7mb)
Reading from The Captains and the Kings (2.76mb)

Born in Dublin in 1930, Jennifer Johnston's first published novel was The Captains and the Kings (1972).

Since then, she has published many more novels, including Shadows on our Skin (1977), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and The Old Jest (1979), set in the War of Independence, which won the 1979 Whitbread Novel Award. The Old Jest was later filmed as The Dawning, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Other novels include How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974), set in World War I, and later adapted for stage, The Invisible Worm (1991), dealing with the subject of sexual abuse, shortlisted for the Daily Express Best Book of the Year Award, The Gingerbread Woman (2000), about a widower who has lost his wife and child to terrorists, This Is Not a Novel (2002), and most recently, Grace and Truth (2005).

Johnston also writes plays. These have included The Nightingale And Not The Lark (1980), and O Ananias, Azarias and Misael (first published in Best Radio Plays of 1989/1990).

She lives in Co Londonderry and her novels have been published in many countries.

Dave Duggan

Headphone Icon LISTEN to Dave Duggan:
Interview (5.19mb)
Extract from the play Waiting (2.6mb)
Extract from AH9605 (2.02mb)

Reading from The Greening of Larry Mahon:
Part 1 (2.34mb)
Part 2 (3.2mb)

Dave Duggan is a writer of drama for stage, screen and radio. He also directs. Among his many works is the Oscar-nominated Dance Lexie Dance. Originally from Waterford, Duggan lives in Derry. The Greening of Larry Mahon is his first novel.

Garbhan Downey

Headphone Icon LISTEN to Garbhan Downey
Interview (4.15mb)
Extract from Running Mates (1.77mb)
Extract from Across The Line (1.82mb)

Downey was born on February 24, 1966, in Derry. He went to school at Rosemount PS and St Columb’s College. In 1984, he travelled to University College Galway to study French and Latin.

Garbhan Downey (left) and son Fiachra in November 2004. Downey has considerable journalistic experience but the lure of fiction writing was very strong. He linked up with Guildhall Press to produce The Private Diary of a Suspended MLA, a satire on the peace process. The Sunday Times described the book as the 'best Northern Ireland political novel of the century'.

He began writing Off Broadway in 1995 and finally completed it in May 2005. Published by Guildhall Press, the book is a series of interwoven short stories that take a viciously funny look at the rise of crookery and roguery in Ireland since the ceasefires. Reviews of the book were favourable, with the Irish News comparing the author to Dickens.

In June 2006, Downey signed for Blackstaff Press. The Belfast-based group are publishing his latest novel, Running Mates. The book centres on a tremendously corrupt race for the Irish presidency, (fiction, of course).

The author is already busy working on a sequel, Across The Line, in which the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister are compelled to join forces to prevent gold-digging northerners from redrawing the border (again, fiction).