It would appear that the tiny Island I live on, is far more recognised than most countries of similar size size around the world. There are in reality lots of reasons for this. My favourite explanation is, that most of us Fecked off in the 19th century during ‘The Famine’ and emigration has been a virtual tradition for countless Irish men and women ever since. Being a race renowned for never shutting up and reproducing like the good Catholics we were, it is hard not to find one of us blabbering on about the ‘auld sod in every corner of the globe.
We emigrated to the good spots, America and the UK for example, had our peasants transported as criminals to a fledgling Australia in huge numbers and where it was hot, sticky and impoverished, we sent boat loads of Irish missionaries to educate the locals in our own inimical style.
Add to that a rich tradition of literature and music and fighting for lost causes and you will find that whether you are in Buenos Aires, Darwin, Hong Kong or Delhi, there is probably an Irish pub, monument, priest, teacher, waiter or tourist somewhere close by.
In my first book Darkly Wood the Irish connection appears in the form of one of my favourite characters Ignatius Pipe who is an Irish immigrant. In Larry Flynn however, the Irishness is far more in your face as the book is set in Dublin and full of colourful Dublin characters. Now this is where I ran into some self-doubt, for in Ireland there is a uniqueness about how the English language is treated. To present an authentic Irish, indeed more specifically an authentic Dublin voice, I had to include some of the more colourful language that inhabits the everyday speech of a certain type of Dubliner.
In the editing process I found myself wondering if I should cut some of the more choice language out, but that of course would dilute the authenticity. It was a tough one as for a moment I began to underestimate my potential readers, thinking that somehow the voices of the characters might reflect on me as the author. Don’t get me wrong I’m no saint but it’s strange the things you consider in editing. In the end I left most of it in and I will have to rely on my audience to see it for what it is.
I guess this is always going to be a question for me, as it is for most writers. Where do you draw the line? Fans of the show Father Ted, will be familiar with the repeated shouts of ‘Feck, Drink, Arse, Girls, and in a funny way this largely encompasses my dilemma as a writer. How to write about life when it comes to things like foul language, sex, drink and drugs. I’ve decided to be as true to the character as I can and let them be crude and vile where they need to be if it is relevant to the story.
Larry Flynn could not exist without a certain amount of bad language, crudeness and some despicable acts of violence. Indeed the book would make no sense without it in an Irish context and I believe this applies to a global audience. I can only hope that a non Irish audience will be as appreciative of the authenticity and have the sense to understand the very specific, local narrative and the relevance of some of the coarser language…..
and sure if not … Feck them!… What would you do…?