Novelist, poet and short story writer, Liz was born in Scotland to an Irish/Scottish family and has been living in Dublin since 1981. She is founder and Director of Turas Press, which she set up in 2017.
Her collection of short stories, What to Put in a Suitcase, was published by Turas Press in October, 2022. It is currently available for order on this website and from bookstores listed on the Our Stockists page.
Praise for Suitcase
The collection has received highly favourable reviews from several eminent reviewers. Anne Cunningham, writing in the Sunday Independent, October 23rd, said
“This anthology of 16 short stories packs a punch, as Liz McSkeane displays an uncanny insight into our fears, failings and tiny triumphs in a world that’s increasingly difficult to navigate…mpactful, insightful and superbly written. A real reader’s treat.”
In Books Ireland Magazine, Susan McKeever describes how this “skilful and spare anthology” shows how “unremarkable characters are placed in challenging situations; they ponder what course of action to take, their internal monologues conveying thought processes that percolate through the narrative, in a spare style of writing devoid of hyperbole or drama.”
The eminent writer Catherine Dunne observes that
“The world of What to Put in a Suitcase is a very uncertain place, full of uncomfortable questions. We are frequently unsure where we are, the terrain shifts, the ground beneath our feet feels increasingly unstable. These are stories written in spare, pared-back language, with images that startle, packed with interior monologues that are rich with insight and observation and reflect the challenges of modern life: immigration, the pandemic, violence against women, society’s many inequalities.”
A story from the collection, A Hot Coffee, was published in the Irish Times online on Christmas Day, 2022.
Liz’s other work includes novels and poetry. Her historical novel Canticle, (Turas Press, 2018) set in 16th and 17thcentury Spain, is based on the life of the Spanish mystic poet, John of the Cross. Canticle was a joint winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Competition 2016. Her second novel, Aftermath, set in the days and years following the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, will be published in the summer of 2023.
Liz’s four poetry collections are: In Flight, (Lapwing, 1996); Snow at the Opera House (2002, New Island): So Long, Calypso (2017, Turas Press); Learning to Tango (Turas Press, 2021.) Her poetry has been published in many outlets, including The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Pages, Orbis, Stepaway, The Shop, The Stinging Fly and anthologised in The White Page/An Bhileog Bán (Ed. McBreen, Salmon, 1999) and Slow Time: 100 poems to take you there (Ed. McMonagle, Mercier Press, 2000 ). Some of her short stories have been published in Books Ireland Magazine, The Cork Literary Review, The Irish Pages, The Honest Ulsterman, Live Encounters.
In 1999, Liz was overall winner of the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award for her poetry.
In 2014, Liz worked on a bi-lingual edition of Colombian and Irish poetry, Veinte Poemas/Twenty Poems with the poet Anamaría Crowe Serrano.
Liz has worked in education, broadcasting and freelance journalism. For many years has been an independent consultant in education, training and employment policy. She has a PhD in Education from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Reviews of Liz’s work
Anthony Glavin, writing in The Independent, said this of Canticle:
“A formidable feat of imagination underpins this marvellous detective novel set in late 16th/early 17th century Spain…Canticle is a tale for our time, rife with insitutionalised power struggles, truth and misinformation, manipulated in the interests of the elite – same as it always was and is.”
Canticle was chosen as an Editor’s pick in the February 2019 issue of the Historical Novel Review, the quarterly publication of the Historical Novel Society. Reviewer Kristen McQuinn said of Canticle:
“The characters, every one of them, have depth and life… The central theme of what truth is, both in politics and within the Church, remains so relevant today that this is a difficult novel to put down… The complexity of the politics involved, the careful layering of the plot and the unfolding events, make this a novel that you will want to savor… Very highly recommended.”
You can read Kristen’s full review in the February 2019 Historical Novel Review
Mairéad Hearne of bookblog Swirl and Thread said of the main character in Canticle:
“Fray Martín de Sepúlveda is a wonderful character, reminding me of C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake. His determination to uncover the truth, his strong principles, his unshakable morals, his cynicism and his overall personality make him the perfect detective for the time… [Canticle] is an intelligent and engrossing read about a very fascinating period of history. Liz McSkeane has created a superb character in Fray Martín and I do hope that he continues his detective work in a future novel.”
You can read Mairéad’s review of Canticle on Swirl and Thread
So Long, Calypso
In Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 127, Julie Morrissey wrote of Calypso
“Mortality, immortality, and ageing are conjured both in the title and the poems of So Long, Calypso. The collection moves between various cities and towns and is punctuated with a handful of poems about a friend struggling with old age. So Long, Calypso harbours a lasting charm…”
Poetry Ireland Review can be ordered here.
Colin Dardis’ thoughtful review of Calypso can be found in the Lagan Online issue of November, 2017.
“So Long, Calypso is a moving collection, one whose characters and stories are easy to empathise with and relate to… it is the memory of the speakers’ various emotions, laid out and exposed, that will stay after reading.”
Radio and Video
You can hear Liz reading Fernweg Tango, one of the poems from her latest poetry collection, Learning to Tango, which was broadcast on the Words Lightly Spoken podcast on July 16th, 2021.
Turas Press produced a half-hour video to celebrate the release of Learning to Tango on May 27th, 2021, introduced by Anamaría Crowe Serrano and featuring Liz reading and talking about some of the poems from the collection.
In June, 2022, Liz chatted to Ciarán Murray about language and languages, writing and the German connection with Beckett in the Hiberno Goethe show, broadcast by NearFM in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, Dublin.
In July 2022, Damien Donnelly invited Liz to read a selection of poems from her four published collections in his Eat the Storms poetry podcast.
To read some samples of Liz’s poems, stories and an extract from Canticle, visit her website.