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Meet the longlist: Louise Kennedy, author of 'In Silhouette'

Between now and the shortlist announcement on Sunday 28th July we will be putting the spotlight on each of 2019's longlisted authors in turn.

Today's author is Louise Kennedy, author of 'In Silhouette', described by one of the judges as 'a mystery novel in under 6000 words'.

What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

I heard an appeal on the radio for information regarding one of the ‘Disappeared’ of the Troubles. I wondered what it would be like to know what happened and not come forward.

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

My novel is at first draft stage, and the process has been delightfully sloppy. With short stories you are trying to get the tone right from the first sentence and eking out the narrative to build tension. The most fun is with later drafts, when you’re pulling words out and hoping to god the story doesn’t collapse around you. Kind of like jenga.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

I normally type. I can’t read my own writing.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

The Way-Paver By Anne Devlin

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

Edna O’Brien’s ‘A Scandalous Woman.’ I’d love to hear Aisling O’Sullivan read it.

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Susan Lynch

What are you reading now?

Point of No Return by Robert Fisk. Derek Mahon’s Collected Poems.

Please read on for a preview of 'In Silhouette':

'The hot pants look trampy with the platforms so you change into your yellow parallels. You fill your clutch bag with fags, a pat of powder, a tin of Vaseline. It’s floppy, so you wad it with tissues to fill it out. The bag came free with a bottle of Charlie perfume you bought in the chemist’s shop you’re not allowed to go into because Mr Crawford, the owner, is in the DUP. A last look in the mirror. The broderie anglaise trim on your top doesn’t quite reach the waistband of your trousers. Your stomach is hollow, which you like, and pale, which you don’t. You go down the stairs and put your head into the sitting room. Showaddy Waddy are on Seaside Special, wearing suits the same shade as your trousers. Cheerio, you say. Your mother pulls the edges of her cardigan together by way of an answer. You go down the driveway. The wee ones are down at the stream, building a dam or demolishing one, their shrieks blowing across the fields to you. The heat has been building all day. The tarmac is soft under your feet, sundering into oil and chips of stone, and by the time you get to the Half Way Inn the cork soles on your shoes are greasy-looking and the hair at the back of your neck is wet.

The front door is wedged open with a brick. The girls are already there, at the corner table by the juke box, nursing jewel-coloured drinks laced with cordial. Gin and orange. Pernod and blackcurrant. Vodka and lime. You tuck your clutch high up under your arm and go to the bar....'

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