I do my writing in Cork’s cafes!

The author of our first Summer Soap story of 2019, which is serialised from Monday, tells COLETTE SHERIDAN about her journey from Utah to UCC, and her plans for the future
I do my writing in Cork’s cafes!
Christine Kannapel, Summer Soap for The Echo, 2019

AMYSTERIOUS story of time travel in Cork, written by an American who travelled across the Atlantic to study at UCC, will take centre stage in The Echo over the next two weeks as our popular Summer Soap series returns.

The series takes fictional stories by UCC’s creative writing class and runs them in the form of an episode each day in the newspaper, and on our website — 12 episodes across two weeks.

The two winning stories — another will be published in August — were selected from the MA in creative writing class at UCC, which is run by Mary Morrissey.

American student Christine Kannapel is the author of the first Summer Soap kicking off this year’s series on Monday.

In One Summer in Cork, the soap's protagonist Julia relays an astonishing story of time travel.

A recent college graduate from the States, Julia is ready to take on the world. She is visiting her brother, Ben, in Cork where he is researching 17th century Irish Quaker society for his doctorate.

On the Summer Solstice, Julia joins Ben, his Corkonian girlfriend, Maeve, and Maeve’s friends, for a gathering around a bonfire. Before Julia knows it, she and Rory, a dreamy coffee shop owner in Cork, find themselves in the 1790s...

Christine has been writing since she was a child.

Now aged 23, she is from Utah, which is very much Mormon territory. “I wasn’t raised Mormon, I was raised Catholic,” she points out. “But I loved growing up in Utah. It’s very beautiful and sunny.

“It’s a desert but there are also mountains. I lived right at the bottom of the mountains, which was very fruitful for my wellness and imagination.”

At high school, Christine did well at English and decided to major in the subject. She attended the University of Utah for her undergraduate degree. She then applied for a Fulbright grant. She didn’t get it, but was accepted onto the creative writing Masters at UCC.

“I really wanted to study outside of my country,” said Christine. “The UCC programme popped out at me because Leanne O’Sullivan is one of the teachers. I had read some of her poetry and got really excited about going to UCC.”

Other poets that Christine admires are the contemporary American poet Terrance Hayes, and she likes the work of Emily Dickinson, Yeats and Keats.

Christine wants to continue writing and for her thesis, she will be submitting a collection of her poetry in September.

“I don’t know if writing is going to be my professional career,” she says. “I think I need a career and I’ve been looking at law. It seems like a natural place for me. My creativity would be kept separate.”

Looking back on her time at UCC, Christine says the experience of doing the MA there “has made me more self-aware and reflective”.

She adds: “There are parts of my life that I haven’t yet unpacked. My childhood was great but we all have moments in our childhoods that you think about.

“Also, I’m looking at relationships. I never wrote romantic and other poetry about them, until now. And I’m looking at my relationship with my parents. I think that’s always frightening at first. But we’re actually studying myths. I think myths are a way for every modern person to learn. Theo Dorgan’s Orpheus collection has inspired me a lot.”

Christine says the MA programme gives the participants a lot of room to grow as a writer. She is not from a literary background — both her parents are nurses.

It wasn’t until Christine was six or seven that she learned to read.

"I learned differently, due to what my teachers may have described as a little ADHD." 

“My grandmother was the one who got me to read. She gave me her books, including The Little House On The Prairie and The Secret Garden.

Leaving Cork and heading back home has been difficult for Christine as she has grown to love the city and its cafe life. “I like the way the writing community is so close here. Where I come from, the approach can be very academic whereas here, it’s more about stories.

“I’ve been to Ó Bheal (a weekly poetry gathering at the Long Valley in Cork city) where I’ve made friends. I love being able to walk into the city centre in five minutes. I’m definitely a city person. Although I was raised at the base of a mountain, I was near Salt Lake City.”

Christine often does her writing in cafes such as Soma, Nectar and The Bookshelf. “I hop around to different ones a lot,” she says. “The people working in some of the cafes know me and my order. They’ll either be sad or happy when I leave!

“I like the pub scene too. In Salt Lake City, we don’t have a lot of that. Here, going to the pub is a natural thing to do.”

When Christine’s soap is published over the next fortnight, it will be her debut in an Irish newspaper.

“We were given a choice for our final project,” she says. “We either had to write an article for a newspaper or a magazine with extra points given if it was published. Or we could submit to the soap series. I decided to try the soap because I missed writing fiction. I wanted to have fun with fiction and leave the literary thing on the shelf for the moment. It was really fun writing it.”

The theme of time travel seemed like a good idea for Christine, who has always been interested in history. “I’ve had the story in my head for a while. I hope the twists in it will be a surprise for the readers.”

Follow our Summer Soap from Monday, in the paper and online at echolive.ie

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