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Madeleine D’Arcy

Short Fiction Writer Madeleine D'Arcy


MADELEINE D’ARCY was born in Ireland. In 2010 she received a Hennessy X.O Literary Award for First Fiction as well as the overall Hennessy X.O Literary Award for New Irish Writer. Her stories have been short-listed and commended in many competitions, including the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen Short Story Competition, Fish Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize and the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. Madeleine has been awarded bursaries by the Arts Council of Ireland and by Cork City Council. Madeleine was a scholarship student on the inaugural MA in Creative Writing 2013-2014 in University College Cork. Waiting for the Bullet is Madeleine’s debut collection of short stories.

Genre: Fiction
Number of publications: 3

Winner of the 2015 Edge Hill Readers’ Prize / Winner of the Bronze Medal for Adult Fiction by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association Presidents Award

Madeleine D'Arcy's stories are funny and wry and pulsate with all the mad rude energies of life itself but often there is an undercurrent of darkness or sadness just beneath the surface and this is what deepens and gives real weight to the work.

— Kevin Barry

Sample Work

Sample Work From Waiting for the Bullet

Extract from 'An Under-Rated Emotion'

I wake up in a strange room.
      ‘We didn’t use a condom last night,’ Deirdre says. She’s lying next to me in the bed. ‘Are you worried?’
       ‘I was just wondering.’
       My head is throbbing from last night’s drinking and it’s only just dawned on me that we’re in New York, not Cork, and that I’m in a hotel bedroom. I can hardly bear to open my eyes. I turn my head towards Deirdre and I can smell that expensive body lotion she uses. She’s on her back, looking up at the ceiling. Everything’s too bright. I close my eyes again.
       ‘Oh God,’ I groan. ‘I’m in agony. Did you bring any paracetamol with you?’
       ‘Yeah,’ she says. ‘I’ll get you some, birthday boy.’ She leans over to kiss me.
       ‘I wouldn’t come too close if I were you,’ I say. ‘I bet my breath smells foul.’
       ‘Well,’ she says. ‘You’re probably right. You drank a fair bit last night. You had two pints at Shannon Airport and two double gins on the plane before it was even officially your birthday.’
       ‘It was the beginning of my special birthday outing though,’ I say, defensively. I wish I’d remembered to close the curtains.
       ‘Yes, you explained that to everyone on the plane. You told the flight attendant she was gorgeous. You said she was your favourite air hostess ever, several times. I tried to stop you but you kept on saying it. Air hostess. I’d say they haven’t been called that since the 1950s.’
       ‘Ah, I was only joking.’ I try to laugh it off. I’m a lot older than Deirdre. She’s twenty-nine. I’m forty-six. No wonder she thinks I’m a dinosaur sometimes.
         ‘Do you remember anything else?’ she asks.
       ‘Well, we checked into the hotel, didn’t we? Then we had a bite to eat somewhere. I think we had a few drinks in the hotel bar after that.’
       ‘You told everyone there it was your birthday too.’
       ‘Then I suppose… em…’
       ‘We came up here,’ she says. ‘Then you started the naked dancing. You wanted me to admire you in your birthday suit. That’s when you made a lunge at me.’
       ‘Oh Jesus, I remember now.’ I feel the bedspread. ‘God, the cover on this bed is so slippery. I’d have been alright only for that.’
       Deirdre is laughing now. ‘You were way off-course.’
       ‘Jesus, it’s all coming back to me. I slid straight across the bed and ended up on the floor—hit my head an awful whack against the skirting board.’
       ‘I thought you’d knocked yourself out.’
       ‘Oh God, I threw up, didn’t I?’ I shift sideways to the edge of the bed and look down, hoping there’s no evidence on the carpet.
       ‘Only in the bathroom,’ Deirdre says.
       ‘Thank fuck for that. Will you get me some painkillers?’
       ‘Yeah.’ She gets out of bed and puts on a silky floral dressing gown I don’t remember seeing before. ‘Anyway, you were fine a few hours later. You got very lively then. That’s when we didn’t use a condom, and you said… you don’t remember what you said, do you?’

Deirdre orders breakfast from room service but all I can manage is coffee and a slice of toast and even that makes me feel queasy. I go back to bed and bunch the slippery quilt around me. The television’s on low volume and the CNN weather girl says it might snow. 
       ‘We’re in New York, for God’s sake,’ says Deirdre. ‘Let’s do something.’
       ‘Sight-seeing isn’t really my thing.’
       ‘Let’s go and see the Brooklyn Bridge,’ she insists.
       I don’t tell her I’ve already been there, years ago, when I was promoting my first novel. I’m in no condition to argue. 

       ‘So long as we get taxis,’ I tell her. ‘I’m too weak to deal with the subway.’

Sample Work From Liberty Terrace

An Extract from ‘Home Improvements’

It was a Friday afternoon in late October. Henry’s final Zoom meeting was over. The kids were home from school. He could hear them upstairs playing Fortnite on the computer with the sound turned up full blast. Since the first Lockdown in March he’d been working from home. His office was in the front room. Marcia worked at the kitchen table but she only worked part-time anyway; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, doing accounts for Downeys, the building firm. In March, Marcia had set up his old laptop and a new computer in the children’s bedrooms. He had said it wasn’t healthy but she had said what choice do we have—they both needed to be online while the schools were closed. The house was too small. He had to get out before he exploded.
      He plodded into the kitchen. ‘I’ve got to go to the office.’
      The loaf of bread she’d used for lunchtime sandwiches was still on the kitchen table, the crusts of bread, crumbs of cheese on plates, the children’s half-drunk glasses of milk, the tub of coleslaw, their coffee mugs, a half-eaten goldgrain biscuit. Marcia hadn’t even bothered putting the milk back in the fridge. She stood there, paintbrush in hand. On the kitchen counter next to the kettle was a selection of small tins of paint. Testers, he thought they were called. On the cream-coloured wall to the right of the back door were several swathes of colour: light blue, yellow, dark green, a greeny-blue that might be turquoise, a light purple and, worst of all, a pinkish red. She’s going slowly nuts, he thought. The colours seemed ridiculous to him.
      Marcia pointed to the dark green, her eyebrows raised.
      ‘No?’ she asked.
      ‘No,’ said Henry, shaking his head.
      She picked up a brush and painted a streak of lilac next to the purple. ‘No,’ she said quietly, almost to herself.
      ‘No?’ he asked. The lilac didn’t seem too bad to him. Well, it wasn’t great but it was the best of a bad lot.
      ‘No.’ She sighed and walked past him, still holding the paintbrush. She went to the sink and turned on the tap. As she rinsed the paintbrush under the cold water he went over to the kettle and lifted it up, to gauge whether there was enough water in it for a cup of tea.
      He held the kettle, waiting for her to finish rinsing the brush so he could fill it. It seemed to take forever. She hummed while she held the brush under the running water, riffling her fingers through the bristles as if she were washing a child’s hair. Her face was pale and taut, she hardly ever wore make-up these days. She was wearing her old grey sweatpants and an oversized black top, but even so, he could see that her body had become more toned in the past few months. She’d become addicted to some YouTube exercise thing—every morning before she woke the kids, there she was on the mat in front of the TV, doing stretches and bends, lifting tins of baked beans up and down, balancing on a round plastic ball she’d bought online. In the evenings, before she cooked the dinner, she went out jogging. Not that he’d benefitted much from her efforts. She always seemed tired in bed.

Madeleine D’Arcy Reading at Fiction at the Friary


Cork Stories
Book Stories

ISBN: 978-1-907682-99-5 | Pages: 198 | Year published: 2024

Cork Stories, edited by Madeleine D’Arcy and Laura McKenna, is a collection of short fiction set throughout the neighbourhoods of Cork city and county by writers who live or have lived in Cork. Some of the stories present vivid portraits of the neighbourhoods using specific landmarks and detail; others capture the spirit of the neighbourhoods and its people. Together the stories celebrate Cork and the people who live there. Writers featured in Cork Stories include: Kevin Barry, Tadhg Coakley, Danny Denton, Martina Evans, Marie Gethins, Danielle McLaughlin, Oonagh Montague, Mary Morrissy, Grainne Murphy, Jamie O’Connell, Mel O’Doherty, Eileen O’Donoghue, Anne O’Leary, Tina Pisco, Sean Tanner, William Wall and Fiona Whyte.

Liberty Terrace
Liberty Terrace Short fiction Book by Madeleine D’Arcy Published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-86-5| Pages: 200 | Published: 2021

Liberty Terrace features a bevy of characters who reside in a fictional area of Cork City in the period 2016 to 2020. The inhabitants of Liberty Terrace come and go, and their lives occasionally intersect in stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes dark, often both. The cast of characters includes retired Garda Superintendent Deckie Google, a young homeless squatter, the mother of an autistic child working part-time as a Census Enumerator, the dysfunctional Callinan family, an ageing rock star, a trio of ladies who visit a faith healer, a philandering husband, as well as a surprising number of cats and dogs. These stories shed light on how we lived before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, on what we care about and on what, if anything, we can truly count on.


Waiting for the Bullet
Waiting for the Bullet Short Fiction Book by Madeleine D'Arcy published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-34-6 | Pages: 152 | Published: 2014

This compelling collection presents twelve character-driven short stories that are set in London, New York and Ireland. The stories are populated with characters who are forced to deal with a multitude of problems: errant lovers, cheating spouses, dreadful dinner parties, difficult in-laws, secrets, lies, bereavement and the sadness of lost possibilities — not to mention urban foxes, a behaviourally-challenged cat, an ill-fitting Santa Claus outfit and a toy gun.