Micheal Norton is an Irish writer from a rural background in Tipperary. He lived and studied in Galway for ten years, initially at the Institute of Technology before undertaking a Masters in Script Writing at the National University of Ireland. For the past five years he has lived in Glasgow.
He enjoys reading books by John McGahern, Cormac McCarthy and Roddy Doyle.In particular he loves stories to do with rural life, especially Ireland from the 1950's. He's also a fan of James Kelman, Kafka, Annie Proulx and Charles Bukowski.
I met Micheal whilst studying Creative Writing at Glasgow University and I've been trying to persuade him to show off his work and get it published. Over the past three years I've read scores of excellent short stories written by my co-students – I've enjoyed Micheal Norton's most of all.
When he's writing Micheal 'wants to get into his characters heads and create emotions while at the same time keeping the reader thinking'
With script writing he found that it was hard to create a world and characters with depth so he switched to writing short stories: 'With short stories you have more emotional scope and I find it easier to let the characters find their feet and move about in their world.'
Pat Byrne, November, 2014
Micheal is part of the Ten Writers Telling Lies Project – where ten of Glasgow's most talented writers have got together with the musician Jim Byrne, to produce a book and CD. The product will be launched in 2017. You can catch a preview at the West End Festival 2016.
The Calfing Season by Micheal Norton was published in 'Tales of A Cancelled Country" thi wurd, June, 2015. Buy the anthology online at thi-wurd
Their bawling drifts in through the opened window; over the hay barn from the field behind. The sun, a long time up, waits patiently behind the clouds and a slight breeze lifts the curtain then retreats leaving the room fresh and airy. Downstairs there is no one about. All been up and gone. The tea pot still warm in its cosy with the tea stewed to bits and the jam stained knife lying in the toast crumbs. Outside the air is thick and the flag nailed to the electricity pole takes to the air every so often. I rinse the churn and scoop the dried milk in; mixing it into a paste before filling it up just before the neck and placing the cap on. The churn and the nuts push the wheelbarrow near the gravel so that it crunches and sways along the ground as I shove it down the boreen.
They hear me as I come down the road and follow me along the ditch; mooing and bucking and shoving into each other trying to get a good look. The gate creaks open and I hunt the calves away and quickly push in the wheelbarrow. They come back at force and crowd around; biting and grabbing onto my clothes leaving behind wet stains of spit and foam. I grab the churn and carry it over to the trough and fill it; the milk rushing to the far end and crashing into the sides. They gather around getting their heads in and gulping the milk back greedily. I pick up the empty bucket lying overturned on the grass and put the remaining milk in it. The small calf walks over to me pushing his head into my stomach and trying to grab my fingers. I place them in his mouth and he starts sucking and I bring the bucket up to my hand and his head into the milk and he starts to take to the milk and drink it back. I scatter the nuts into the trough and look over them and check their water. The small one follows me around and I stroke his head and put his nuts in a bucket away from the others and he munches away while shitting a load of dung onto the grass.
The sliotar was echoing off the side of the house as I push the wheelbarrow in along the yard. John was pucking it; using his strong arms to give it a fierce wallop with his hurl and catching it with his free hand before pucking it again. He glances over at me as I take the churn off the wheelbarrow and place it beside the wall.
‘How’s things?’ I say.
‘Any luck at bingo?’
He takes the sliotar and gives it a delicate hit towards me.
‘Granny drop you up?’
I throw the sliotar back at him and he stops it with his hurl and bounces it before hitting it again full force off the wall and leaving it roll on the grass to stop in front of him.
‘Arms’ feeling better anyway?’
He lifts his right hand rolls his shoulder in a circle and nods.
‘Yeah it’s grand now.’
‘You’re as hard as nails John.’
‘Oh I’m tough alright.’
‘Himselfs’ been raging all week.’
‘Yeah I know.’
‘He said that fucker’s father owes me a couple of pound and his son goes and does that.’
John laughs and shakes his head.
‘Sounds like something he’d say.’
(Extract from the short story Calfing Season by Michael Norton)
Read the story: Driving to Mass by Micheal Norton