A cracker for bookworms Beneath the Christmas Tree!

A Christmas anthology of short stories featuring new work from Northern Irish writers will launch on November 4, with all proceeds donated to the Simon Community NI and the World of Owls NI.
The authorsThe authors
The authors

The publication, entitled Underneath the Tree, is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and includes 12 short stories which all take place over the Christmas period.

Published by the community group, Sesheta, it features work from a range of writers across Northern Ireland and includes an eclectic mix of genres. An online launch will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, November 4, which is open to the public.

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Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council is delighted to have been able to support this exciting new publishing venture and this festive anthology in particular. Voices new and familiar and a range of genres and styles, smartly curated, bring to the traditional season a welcome diversity of short fiction. This is one of those years when Christmas really can’t come soon enough to help dispel the obvious gloom and this anthology of engaging narratives will be a welcome addition to anyone’s haul of Yuletide goodies.”

Underneath the TreeUnderneath the Tree
Underneath the Tree

Co-editor of the anthology, Kelly Creighton, added: “I am delighted to have co-edited Underneath the Tree with Claire Savage, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“These 12 stories by local writers really showcase the different genres that are being worked on at the moment. From crime to comedy, horror to sci-fi, ghost stories to magical realism. The range of voices in this anthology means there is something for every reader. The one thing they all have in common is that they will get you in the festive mood. The perfect gift for all the bookworms in your life, or to add to your own Santa list.”

Fellow co-editor, Claire Savage, said that although the anthology was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic, the project had proved timely in supporting local writers. Indeed, thanks to the Arts Council NI funding, each contributing writer has been paid for their story, and also receives a complimentary copy of the anthology.

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“The arts sector has, like many, been badly affected by the pandemic so it’s great to be able to offer some support to writers – and to our chosen charities – at this difficult time,” she said.

Ciarán Corr, communications manager at the Simon Community NI, said they were delighted Sesheta had selected Simon Community as one of their recipient charities for the anthology project.

“As Northern Ireland’s leading homelessness charity, we’re always looking to raise our profile and increase awareness around the issue of homelessness and this project is the perfect opportunity to do this,” he said.

Mike Gibb from the World of Owls added: “Our main objective at the WOO is to ensure the survival of the world’s owls, but as Northern Ireland’s only owl, bird of prey and exotic animal centre, we also rescue and care for lots of other animals too. As well as this, we carry out a variety of conservation, education and research activities, so any donation we receive from Sesheta will help us with this important work.”

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Underneath the Tree is published on November 4 and available to purchase online from Amazon and The Book Depository in both e-book and paperback format. All proceeds from book sales will be split equally between the Simon Community NI and the World of Owls NI.

An online book launch will take place from 7pm-8.30pm on Wednesday, November 4 via Zoom. If you would like to attend please email Claire and Kelly at:

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