On loss and Macmillan Cancer Support- You’re Not Alone

  It was with more than a heavy heart that I pressed my lips to my mothers face and said goodbye for the last time.  She left me behind I had felt, without saying goodbye and it crushed my soul. 

My father had passed two years before and the circumstances of their parting couldn’t have been more different.  

I was still a young man and their loss was much bigger than I realised at the time.  I had no understanding of how they would be missing from important moments in my life. The intense grief at the time felt insurmountable and I believed like many do at times of sorrow , that those early moments were to be the worst.

More than twenty years have passed and time is indeed a healer. Unfortunately there are some things that hang about you that can strip away your layers and leave you raw and vulnerable at the strangest of times. 

I recently dipped into the small cavern in my soul, the one that never sees light, to find the love I have missed for so long.  There I found the tears I never cry, and poured them into my latest book Little Big Boy. 

To draw that emotion, I hooked into what my dear mother meant to me and then I allowed those very private feelings to create a sense of love and vulnerability for the small boy Central to the story.

When I was asked to contribute to an anthology of short stories to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, I didn’t hesitate. But it was not my mother’s death that I looked to for inspiration, but my father’s loss to cancer.

I chose to write a short story that looked at grief from a different perspective.  My story centres on how hard it can be to let go. 

I used one very important memory which was the last thing my dad said to me.  He fought a long battle with lung cancer and much like my  brother who also passed far too soon from lung disease, the simple act of breathing was a significant battle for both proud men.

I was with Dad when he finally left us.  Mam died quite suddenly and I felt abandoned, robbed, inconsolable.  I thought I was prepared for Dad’s final day but I wasn’t.

We kept a fan by his bed.  As he struggled to breathe, the fan gave him a sense of air on his face.  It was almost like a comforter. Dad’s last words were  “Get the fan.” 

 I always imagined people said something significant or special as the moved from us.  “Get the fan” was perhaps a practical finale from a man who was if nothing else, pragmatic.

Loss, grief all that comes with it and after it, are things we all feel and handle differently.  I know I carry it in that cavern in my soul.

On the 11th July You’re not alone will be released and you can pre-order it on amazon now. 

If you’ve been touched by cancer in your life or family, you will know the incredible work nurses do in caring for those most precious to us.  

I am proud to be just one of many talented people who have given freely of their time and energy to put this collection together.  This will be a great book of and in itself, but more importantly, the money raised will go to a truely worthy cause. Visit your local amazon site or click the link below. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00Y5RCOOE/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1433105098&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=You%27re+not+alone+an+Indie&dpPl=1&dpID=61soH3zEgEL&ref=plSrch

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The construction and deconstruction of monsters

The construction and deconstruction of monsters

There is nothing like a vile and contemptible monster.  I should know because as anyone who reads Max Power books will know, I do like my monsters.  The problem I find is that I hate a clean cut one.  As far as I am concerned black and white are never opposite ends of the spectrum, they are balance in all of us.

Little Big Boy has some of my worst monsters.  My construction of the monsters came from the perception of a very small boy so their construction and deconstruction sometimes, was something of a challenge.   Children see things far more simply than most adults care to acknowledge.   Often they ask questions that perplex us and we try to find a complex answer that isn’t necessary.

My daughter asked me when she was five why I was her daddy.  She told me quite logically that she grew in her mammy’s tummy, therefore she was her mammy.  The thought struck her…what made me her daddy and she brought that question to me immediately.  I could have panicked and tried to conjure up an age appropriate answer explaining eggs and seeds for example, but that might have led to a more complicated line of questioning.   The answer of “Because we’re married,” satisfied her curiosity instantly and reminded me that children don’t think like we grown-ups do.

In that spirit I wrote Little Big Boy, always questioning how a five to seven year old would consider the monsters around him.  He needed to misunderstand and miscalculate and often completely take for granted some of the monstrous things that happen in his life.  Sometimes, I needed him to create his own monsters.

In Larry Flynn, there is more of a deconstruction of monsters.  Larry himself is hardly sweetness and light and the book also contains an uncomfortable fulcrum, revolving around two rapes that occur decades apart in very different circumstances.   While apparently minor in terms of the overall plot, both had to be handled in completely different ways as part of the monster myth being taken apart.

It was vital that while I didn’t want to lessen one event over the other in terms of the impact each had on the victims, I needed to portray a different understanding of the motivation of the perpetrators.   Larry plays no part in either attack, but both have an enormous impact on how he perceives his world.

Bad Blood has of course, the monster of the serial killer and the vileness of Elias Wainwright.  There are other characters that may or may not be monstrous and a large part of the story involves playing with how the perception of each character can change with the smallest pieces of additional information.   I wanted to switch allegiance and sympathy throughout the book and indeed, that is always key in how I use the monsters I create.

Which brings me to the book that holds a special place in my heart, Darkly Wood.  Here the very title suggests monsters, yet as I so often say, I was writing a love story and the title as anyone who reads the book knows, is not quite what it seems.  Of course there is a very special and for me at least wonderful monster in Darkly Wood.  He was in his creation, without doubt the most fun character and the most challenging at the same time.  The book is filled with monsters throughout the generations.  The evil one in the tale of Able Gloom, Jo-Jo’s father and one of my personal favourites Lionel Goja.  The fun continues for me in the sequel but you’ll have to wait a little longer for that one.

Ultimately, I need to create an emotional experience for my readers.   I want them to feel happy, shocked, frightened, saddened, dismayed and even devastated if I can.  It is important for me that sometimes there is no doubt that someone is a monster without redemption, but with that I want the reader to doubt and be unsure.  I construct and deconstruct my monsters and hopefully keep you wanting more.  That’s what stays with me when I’ve read the last page of a book.   That’s what I have to feel as I write.  That’s why you’ll always find a monster, be they real or imagined, walking through the normality of the pages of my books, just waiting to grab hold of you and let you know that despite the difference in theme and genre,  you are very definitely, reading a Max power book.

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Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : – http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

We fade to grey

We fade to grey

On the release of Darkly Wood II this week I thought this appropriate to reblog for my cover girl who will be 92 this May

The beautiful girl on the cover of my latest book is my partner’s mother Joan.  Affectionately known to all as Jomammy, she was 21 when this photo was taken on Dollymount strand in Dublin in 1946.  This week Jomammy turns 90.  What a wonderful achievement to have lived so long and to still be, for the most part independent.

Her upcoming birthday made me consider how she has become invisible to so many people in so many situations.  Many people ignore her as though she doesn’t exist.  Her failing hearing does not help, as it makes it difficult to have a conversation with her sometimes.  I say difficult not impossible and it doesn’t excuse people for not making the effort.  Sometimes she repeats stories that we have all heard a million times but don’t we all.  When she tells me something I have heard fifty times, I ask a different question about her story and I am always surprised that she will often squeeze out a new interesting memory.  It doesn’t take much.

I’m a long way from 90 but I’m no spring chicken either.  My fade has already begun.  Once I turned the young ladies heads, now they see past me.  Not that I need their attention but the change is striking and it reminds me that we all grow old…if we are lucky enough.  I know I will become less important, less relevant, less interesting to people around me.  I wish it wasn’t so but when I look at Jomammy and how people almost without thought can fail to see the woman beneath the grey hair, I know it is true.

The photo of her on my cover is a reminder that she was once a vibrant, sexy young woman, with suitors, friends and admirers.  In her head I have no doubt she is not the 90 year old woman who peeks back from her mirror.

So in this short blog I have a simple wish.  That wish is that as you go through your day, when you meet an older person that perhaps you might normally see straight through, take a moment and consider this.  The person you see has a life story and the person you pass has value and what they have to share, may enhance your life if only you take a moment to stop, care, listen and engage them in conversation.  Someday it may well be you that fades away into the background.

Three little words

Three little words

Definitely the most common question I get as a writer is “Where do you get your ideas from?”  I will attempt to answer that question here using the example of a book I am only researching at the moment.

Research! Max Power does research? Well I have to for this one.  Maybe the reason I get asked that particular question so much is because my subject matter varies wildly as does genre.  Darkly Wood is a smorgasbord of Ideas that I am currently continuing on with in the sequel.  Larry Flynn had a very particular origin based on a radio interview I heard and Bad Blood began with one simple sentence. “Men like James Delaney don’t get many kisses in their life.”  Little Big Boy came from a childhood memory.  It is often the smallest things that start me off.

As anyone who reads my books knows, the one thing you don’t know is what to expect.  Each one is intentionally different as I get most enjoyment from testing myself and finding a new challenge.  Perhaps that’s why I never suffer writer’s block. I am writing one book at the minute which as I mentioned is the sequel to Darkly Wood, I am editing another book  set in Australia called Apollo Bay so after that I needed something new.

I am an avid historian and have always been fascinated with the Irish Famine. As an Irishman, I know the history well but I wanted to write a novel set at the time but not about the famine as such.  It is to be the backdrop, to a large extent the bedrock of the book, but it won’t be the subject.  So with that as a desire, I still had no idea what I would write.  Now here is how it happened.

Some time ago I was driving back from a small town in Wexford called Taghmon, listening to the radio.  I heard a story about four Irish women who had worked for the NGO Concern in Somalia during the 1990’s.  There was a particularly touching interview played as part of the documentary and I remembered hearing it all those years ago on the news.  Our then President Mary Robinson, touched me with her compelling words and she later addressed the UN to ensure that the world did not forget the people ravaged by famine in Somalia.  We Irish have a strong affinity with those suffering from famine.  It is a genetic scar that has been passed though generations.

It brought me back to considering my book and then I heard three little words that helped me see immediately what form my book would take.  A Somali working with concern said, “Used to be is a term we say all the time. I used to be a teacher, I used to live there, I used to drink coffee.”  Those words “Used to be” set me away with a character who ‘used to be’ – and I won’t say what he used to be or I’ll spoil the story.  The key thing is, that while I had a notion, it took the spark from some little thing like that to ignite the flame in me to start the book.

And there you have it.  Three little words and I’m off.  So here I am writing one, editing another, researching a third and there is another one somewhere in the pipeline that I don’t even want to begin to think about. Sounds hectic but that’s the way I like it.  If you could only get inside my head for five minutes you’d see what I mean.  Better still read one of my books. You’ll get the idea.

Sometimes you surprise yourself 

Sometimes you surprise yourself 

It’s funny, when I wrote Darkly Wood I had a notion of a sequel, but I wasn’t sure. As I delved deeper into the wood as I was writing last weekend, I finally conceded that there would have to be a third book.

I didn’t set out with number three in mind.  I had my beginning, middle and end generally planned and then I let myself go. 

Darkly Wood is such a special place for me as a writer.  It really draws me in as I go and I have discovered a very special secret.  Of course I can’t tell you.

Importantly I wanted the sequel to not only connect to the original, I wanted it to stand alone. At this stage I can’t reveal much except to say, there are ties to the original but someone new and wonderfully dark has arrived in the little village of Cranby and he has made it necessary to write a third book. 

I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised. Both books have been incredible fun to write. 

I will in due course announce news of cover and title, but for fans of the original Darkly Wood, I am aiming even higher with book two.  If you haven’t discovered the original, now is a good time to start.  It’s terrible keeping the secrets that this new one holds, I’m bursting to tell – but I can keep a secret… or can I .. Watch this space because I’m wavering… 

Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower

maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com

facebook.com/maxpowerbooks

twitter @maxpowerbooks1