They always come up. Most of mine came from my children or from girls way too pretty for me when I was a teenager. Thankfully they get fewer as I get older. My favourite came from my now adult daughter when she was five.
She was eating cereal and watching TV at the time and without taking her eyes from the television, between mouthfuls of Rice Krispies she began..
“Dad.. You know the way I grew in Mammy’s tummy…” This of course set me on full alert, so I ingeniously answered .. ” eeeeyesssss””.. She continued.. “So that makes her my Mammy…” I should have seen it really but I didn’t and she completed her convoluted question…” So why are you my Daddy?”
Now I could have explained in terms of seeds and planting or perhaps used the God/angel approach. I could have gone for the stork or some kind of magical story (she was only five after all) but I didn’t! Before I tell you what I answered I want you to ponder the question and consider how you might answer a 5 year old. Got it? .. Well for someone who has bravery at the heart of most of my books I completely chickened out. “Your Mammy will tell you.” I told her and quietly slipped out of range…. Best answer ever!
Awkward questions eh? I can deal with them in literary terms but in real life? Mmmmmmm.
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…..
My first kiss was pretty rubbish. I was fairly young to be fair and it goes without saying inexperienced, but even so by any standard it was gank. In fairness I had practiced my kissing face and head tilt in the mirror many times in preparation for the moment … and I won’t admit to any more, but still… ooof!
In my first book ‘Darkly Wood’ the main character Daisy, has to meet the challenge of her first kiss in the most extraordinary circumstances. I can lean on life experience when writing about most things but when it came to first kiss – I couldn’t let Daisy suffer the let down that I had to endure.
But in my case, it’s not that she wasn’t a lovely girl and I’m quite confident that she has had better kisses since then too,( I certainly hope so for her sake ) but it was just not something you’d want to repeat. What I do remember was a lot of sweating and anticipation. When the moment finally came there was a lot of head movement and panic about where the nose went and then it sort of happened.
Now tip number one should have been keep it simple. It was after all, the first kiss and lips pursed or closed with just a little pressure might have been the way to go. Na- ah… not this Gombeen! She closed her eyes first, which gave me the chance to see what was going on with her mouth. Much to my horror it was open. She looked like a paralysed goldfish. Not having a shagging clue how to proceed, I copied the pose and our open mouths met.
I closed my eyes and our taught open mouths collided and … well they kind of just stayed in the one position for ages. Now don’t get me wrong, I was an innocent, as was the young lady in question so there were no tongues. It was bizarre. Neither of us knew what to do next, how long we should stay in that position or indeed how to disengage.
After a bit, panic began to set in and I tried to remember movie kisses in order to gain some inspiration. It didn’t help. This was unlike any movie kiss I had ever seen. Eventually I decided to open my eyes, to see if I could get a sense of what she was doing. When I did, I saw that she was staring at me – wide-eyed as though she had just seen a dead person. It scared the living bejesus out of me and as luck would have it, the fright made me pull back away from her, thus ending what should have been a wonderfully sweet memory in a moment of terror.
I think that kiss haunted me for a long time, because I was afraid to kiss another girl for ages…But looking back over the many years that passed, I think in a way it actually did help me when I came to write about Daisy’s first kiss in Darkly Wood. Certainly I’ve kissed and been kissed since those early days and I have learned the value of excitement and anticipation, as well as the importance of love and affection when it comes to kissing.
I wanted Daisy’s kiss to have all of those elements that I’ve learned to appreciate and I chose to save her from the pitfalls of my first kiss experience. Instead I decided to endow her kiss with what I feel now when I kiss the woman I love. There is nothing like a first kiss but you know… I much prefer my last one. How about you?
Strange though it sometimes seems I think we miss so much about ourselves that others see. Me- I’m a funny fecker (polite Irish version for the uninitiated ) for the most part, but I do carry a melancholy under my jacket, and I like to bring my jacket with me everywhere- just in case.
If we’re lucky I guess, we get to notice what we carry with us under our jackets. I was editing my latest book and I saw my melancholy. It wasn’t in your face but subtle – so subtle I nearly missed it and I realised how the idea of loss in all its forms has creeped past me into what I write.
Not that my books are sad – far from it. But be it loss of innocence, loss of courage, strength, love or something else precious, it is an integral part of what I write and I didn’t even notice.
So a sad anniversary passed for me this week and it helped me see the melancholy beneath my jacket as I re-read my latest book for the umpteenth time while editing. .. And do you know what? I think I’ll leave my jacket behind tomorrow. How about you ? What are you carrying around beneath your jacket, and can you leave it behind tomorrow?
I used to be a social-mediaphobe. Now I am on Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn……. I wasn’t just not engaged with social media, I was an active critic. So what has changed? Certainly not me. Well maybe just a bit.
I think that like most people, I can adapt when the circumstances demand it. In my case, the circumstance was becoming an independently published author. Not sure if I even like the term ‘Indie author’ sounds like I should be listening to music I wouldn’t normally listen to, but there you go..
So, am I changed forever? Will I revel in and allow social media to become an even bigger part of my life? Who knows. Need’s must, people change, we are driven to change by circumstance… Will I someday turn against the very media that I currently embrace? Am I of this generation now or just pretending for a while? Am I alone in this? What do you think?
Somehow I didn’t see myself blogging a few weeks back, yet here I am. ‘L’ plates required for sure. The first question that came to mind was, what do I blog about. Honestly it puzzled me and then I began to think why I wanted to blog in the first place.
Some people seem to like to offer advice or opinion on relevant and indeed sometimes less relevant matters. Not for me although nothing wrong with this. I’m just not sure I give good advice and I am overly fond of expressing opinion in general so I should give that a rest.
No this L-plated blogger might just have to be a bit more random. I’ve plenty of ideas but time is always a struggle. Full time job, writing a new book, editing my lovely ‘Darkly Wood’ hard proof copy to squeeze out the final errors and editing the latest book ‘Larry Flynn’ due for release at the end of the month – really time is the clincher.
But I recently had a brief online chat with a fellow author in which I referred to the philosophy of doing rather than talking about doing, on the back of the notion that a writer writes so a doer does.. I want to do.. so here we go…. wish me luck and I will try to develop this blog as I go and with a bit of luck entertain along the way …