Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I have a book coming out tomorrow. It's called Fifty Grand. You may be able to get it in bookstores but you may not. Shelf space is at a premium in most chain bookstores and managers will usually only stock authors who are proven unit shifters. You can however get 50G on Amazon or Powells or B&N.com and if you have a local mystery or indy bookstore they might have it. I worked very hard on this book and put a lot into it and although I'm not the best person to judge I think its a pretty tight read. If you do happen to get it I would certainly appreciate a review on Amazon or B&N or Good Reads.
Go raibh céad maith agat.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Too few people realise that the history of the Irish in America does not begin with the potato famine but goes back a century earlier to the 1740 migrations from Ulster. The best book about this hidden history is probably Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer, but Senator Jim Webb has written an entertaining primer called Born Fighting, both of which are well worth a read. Part of Jim Webb's premise is that the Ulster Scots' fighting and a feuding ways meant that they were predisposed for military service and that Scotch-Irish officers were the backbone of Washington's Army, the Union and Confederate Armies in the Civil War, the Doughboys of WW1, the GIs of WW2 and Vietnam. There may be some truth in this. Although I've never had any desire to serve in the army (all that shouting in the cadet force put me right off) my little brother spent most of last year as an officer in Iraq, my dad was in the Royal Navy for twenty years and my grandfather fought in the trenches in WW1 for the duration. And of course it's well known that the British peacetime army was largely made up of Irish and Scots. Biology and culture are not destiny but maybe this is why I write (fairly) violent crime novels, not romance fiction. I just can't help it. Mercifully though all the country songs I wrote as a teenager have gone to that great storage locker in the sky.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Pavement slippery, people sneezing,
Lords in ermine, beggars freezing;
Titled gluttons dainties carving,
Genius in a garret starving.
Lofty mansions, warm and spacious;
Courtiers cringing and voracious;
Misers scarce and wretched heeding;
Gallant soldiers fighting, bleeding.
Wives who laugh at passive spouses;
Theatres, and meeting-houses;
Balls, where simpering misses languish;
Hospitals, and groans of anguish.
Arts and sciences bewailing:
Commerce drooping, credit failing:
Placemen mocking subjects loyal;
Separations, weddings royal.
Authors who can't earn a dinner;
Many a subtle rogue a winner;
Fugitives for shelter seeking;
Misers hoarding, tradesmen breaking.
Taste and talents quite deserted;
All the laws of truth perverted;
Arrogance o'er merit soaring;
Merit silently deploring.
Ladies gambling night and morning;
Fools the works of genius scorning;
Ancient dames for girls mistaken;
Youthful damsels quite forsaken.
Some in luxury delighting;
More in talking than in fighting;
Lovers old, and beaux decrepid;
Lordlings empty and insipid.
Poets, painters, and musicians;
Lawyers doctors, politicians;
Pamphlets, newspapers, and odes
Seeking fame by different roads.
Gallant souls with empty purses;
Generals only fit for nurses;
School-boys, smit with martial spirit,
Taking place of veteran merit.
Honest men who can't get places,
Knaves who show unblushing faces:
Ruin hasten'd, peace retarded;
Candour spurn'd, and art rewarded.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Last week I asked Brian a few quick questions about BARD and here's the Q&A below:
Q1. I was very impressed by the economy of your prose style. It feels extremely well honed and organic. Elmore Leonard says it takes about a decade to evolve a style. How long have you been perfecting your craft?
A: Thanks. Both my editor and I like quite lean writing, so I tend to pare stuff down as I write, because I know it’ll go in the edit anyway. I’ve been writing for years now, though only started writing crime with Borderlands. The first book I wrote was called One So high, about two psychiatrists in an asylum, one of whom is a patient. Actually, now I think about it, that was my second book: my first was the usual ‘Protestant and Catholic fall in love over the barricades’ guff you have to write when you live in Northern Ireland.
Q2. And as a follow up to that question, who are your major influences in the crime fiction and/or non crime fiction worlds.
Q3. Donegal is an interesting place, it has a northern accent, it's the most northerly county in Ireland and yet its part of the "south". How influenced are you by the landscape and geography of Donegal or could you be writing these books anywhere?
A: I agree with everything you’ve said here – it’s an unusual place because of all the ambiguities. That’s what I like about it in terms of setting, tough and it suits Devlin, I hope. In physical terms, it is a county of extremes; you have beautiful Atlantic coastlines, stunning natural scenery and then sparse scrubland all within half an hour of where we live.
Q4. There seems to be a major boom in Irish crime writing at the moment. Is it the zeitgeist, or changing demographics, increasing urbanisation or what? Any theories?
A: I think crime is perfectly suited to deal with a lot of the contemporary issues with which so called literary fiction would struggle. Crime allows us to look at what’s going on in the country and present it as it really is, or a fictionalised version of that. At the same time, good crime fiction can combine pace, character and is or can be incredibly enjoyable to read. I think crime fiction probably reflects the unease in Ireland at the moment with increased lack of trust in the political and judicial institutions and the seeming lack of control over both the drugs trade and gangsterism in general. In the North, I think the end of the Troubles allowed writers to focus on ‘normal’ crime while using that as a way to evaluate what went on here for the past thirty years. Even non-roubles books still carry their shadow I think.
Q5. What's next for Brian McGilloway in the literary world?
A: I’ve finished the next Devlin novel which is called The Rising, and which I’ll have to start editing soon. It deals with the increasing drugs trade along the border and the various groups involved in it. It also reintroduces Caroline Williams again, though not as a Guard. After that, I’m planning a stand alone set in the North at the moment before I go back to Devlin.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Coldplay have denied, in a US federal court, that they copied parts of rock guitarist Joe Satriani's music for their hit song, Viva La Vida. Lawyers for the band argue that any similarities between the song and Satriani's If I Could Fly were not enough to warrant damages. Mr Satriani sued Coldplay in December, claiming they had used "substantial, original portions" of his 2004 song. He is seeking a jury trial, damages and "any and all profits" from the song. In court papers filed in Los Angeles, Coldplay also claim Mr Satriani's song "lacks originality" and should not receive copyright protection.
You can compare the two songs here. I'm no legal scholar (well ok I've got a law degree and an MA in Jurisprudence but who's counting) however if I were Chris Martin & Coldplay I'd be worried, that defence of theirs about Mr Satriani's song lacking originality - not just breathtakingly arrogant and condescending but also very shaky. The second BBC story is much happier:
Spinal Tap have announced a "world tour" consisting of a single June date at London's Wembley Arena. The tour marks the 25th anniversary of mockumentary film, This is Spinal Tap, which launched the band's career. The band will be backed by 1960s folk trio The Folksmen, the focus of another spoof film, 2003's A Mighty Wind. Spinal Tap's lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel commented: "If we're going to do a World tour on only one night, at least it's this world." Bassist Derek Smalls added: "one night is not enough, and it's way too much". Spinal Tap have used a variety of drummers over the years due several untimely deaths, including a spontaneous combustion on stage. The rest of the line-up for the world tour has not been announced but the group paid tribute to former members. Singer and rhythm guitarist David St Hubbins said: "This show will be dedicated to all of our drummers who have passed on, either to their reward or to middle management at Sainsbury's."
So how do you bring these two stories together in one place? Well by watching this YouTube of course!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.
Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.
My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
- Seamus Heaney
Friday, April 3, 2009
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the story of a boy called Charlie Bucket who is very poor who lives with grandparents. One day he finds the golden ticket to go into the chocolate factory owned by Mr. Willy Wonka. He goes with his grandpa Joe. There are four other kids on the tour of the factory and bad things happen to all of them. Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river. Violet ate the magic bubblegum and she blew up and looked like a giant blueberry. Mike Teavee climbed inside the TV and got very small. Veruca Salt goes into the nut making room and the squirrels throw her into a big hole. But nothing bad happens to Charlie so Mr. Willy Wonka lets him own the factory. And then he lived there with his grandmas and grandpas. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favourite book ever!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
After his Constantinople journey Fermor moved to Greece and he was there when WW2 broke out. The British recruited him to be a secret agent operating behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied Crete, where, somewhat incredibly, his small band of fighters managed to capture the German general in charge of the entire island - a tale which was told in the book and film Ill Met by Moonlight. After the war Leigh Fermor travelled in the Americas and spent time in Greek Orthodox monastic retreats. There's a great interview with Fermor in the May 2003 Paris Review which isn't available online and a nice New Yorker piece here which unfortunately requires registration to read the full thing.