July 13, 2016

Emma Claire Sweeney


Emma Claire Sweeney is a writer who has won Arts Council, Royal Literary Fund and Escalator Awards, and been shortlisted for several others, including the Asham, Wasafiri and Fish. Emma writes literary features and pieces on disability for publications including the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. She teaches creative writing at New York University and co-runs SomethingRhymed.com – a website on female literary friendship. Owl Song at Dawn, a novel inspired by her autistic sister, will be published by Legend Press in July 2016. A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, which she is co-writing with her own writer friend, Emily Midorikawa, will come out in 2017 with Aurum Press in the UK, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the USA. Emma is represented by Veronique Baxter at David Hingham Associates; follow her on Twitter.

Audacious – One of my closest friends accused me of being audacious, and, although he didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment, it made me feel inordinately proud. Since then, the sensation of these syllables in my mouth bring to mind his mischievous smile.
In use since the 16th century, from Latin audax, ‘brave, bold, daring’, from audere ‘to dare, be bold’.

Honeysuckle – I used to dread break time at nursery – the clink of milk bottles, the puncture of straws through foil. But honey, now there’s a taste I’d have liked to suckle.
Circa 1400, in reference to the common climbing vine, from Old English hunigsuge, meaning possibly honeysuckle, clover, wild thyme or privet, literally ‘honey-suck’. Honey, from Old English hunig ‘honey’, from Proto-Germanic hunagam of uncertain origin. Perhaps from PIE k(e)neko – ‘yellow, golden’, where we get the Welsh canecon, ‘gold’ + Suck, from Old English sucan, ‘to suck’, possibly from the same source as Latin sugere, ‘to suck’.

Quirky – One of my most frequent search terms: quirky café bars in Morecambe, quirky bistros in Montmartre, quirky bathhouses in Marrakech. Quirky is where I want to be.
Unknown origin, maybe originally a technical term for a twist or flourish in weaving. Sense of something peculiar is circa 1600.

Emma Claire Sweeney presents Literary Friendships with Something Rhymed at the Margate Bookie on August 20th, more here. She will also be part of the Bookie’s Literary Lounge on August 21st, tickets here.