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Smashwords Interview

Colorful Books

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Yes I do, it was a poem I wrote for a local magazine where I grew up called 'The Achill Link...' I think it was, I was about 10 years old, didn't know my arse from my elbow, and there I was published in a magazine. If I can recall the poem was about the sights, sounds and smells when walking through my parish, but I could be wrong. My best friend's nanny kept the magazine and showed it to me years later, it was a very nostalgic moment.

What is your writing process?

That's a very good question. I always look at the story first, with my background as a playwright I'm able to sit down with a notepad and paper and do an outline of the story I want to write. Then, I look at story beats. If I see an 'and then' moment happen when writing out the story beats, I know the story isn't strong enough, I must change that example to 'but,' 'therefore,' or 'meanwhile.'

An example I often use is a man goes to collect his car from the garage and then drives it home. Boring, isn't it?

Using my process I can change this to - A man goes to the garage to collect his car - but - he loses his wallet - therefore - he cannot pay the mechanic - but - the mechanic is adamant he wants cash - therefore - they get into a fistfight - but - the mechanic loses the fight - therefore - the man drives away without paying - but - his vision is hampered because of his injuries - therefore - he hits a woman with his car - meanwhile - the mechanic lies unconscious on the garage floor.

I then work on character development, I download 50 questions from the web and answer these questions as each character, such as, what is your favourite food? What is your favourite movie? etc...then! I procrastinate in front of the PC as I attempt to write 1,000 words per day.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 and 3/4.' I read it when I was 10, and a lot of jokes went over my head, because of their adult nature. I remember going back and reading it when I was about 18 and seeing how much this child does not relate to the world around him, it made the book ten times funnier. Sue Townsend is a huge influence on my work, I must have read every Adrian Mole book in her canon. I think what appealed to me the most about picking up that book and reading it, was the fact I share my christian name with the protagonist.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

1 - The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith - She's my favourite author. What I enjoy most about this novel is the thorough psychological profile of her anti- hero Tom Ripley. He's a fascinating character, a narcissistic who copies what he sees in people around him, rather than forming his own identity, causing him to be a fantastic con-artist.

2 - Star of the Sea - Joseph O' Connor - This book is epic with a capital E. it's about passengers on a coffin ship during the Irish famine (genocide) as they make their way from Connemara to New York. It has wonderful character development, brilliant exposition and extremely creative and witty dialogue.

3. Stoner - John Williams - The greatest Bildungsroman in American Literature. Reading the life of an uninspiring, ordinary man from his birth to his death was a very propounding experience.

4. The Glass Bead Game - Herman Hesse - as a hermetic the spiritual subtext in this grabbed me completely, another great Bildunsgroman set in the distant future, about a high priest who becomes master of the most complex game on the planet, and realises there's more to life than the great utopia he presides over.

5, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead - Olga Tokarczuk - the fact that this eBook won its author a Nobel Prize for Literature is the ultimate inspiration to anybody who is self publishing their own e-books. Another novel I love that's steeped in Hermetic philosophy, it really is a wonderful read.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up on an island called Achill off the West Coast of Ireland. One thing about Achill is, it's a land of great storytellers, poets, singers, writers and artists of all mediums. The spectacular backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and Minaun Cliffs from my house, really makes the place feel otherworldly. My parents are brilliant storytellers, so I find the process of writing a story comes natural to me. I especially love the phrases used around here that are never used anywhere else.

One example - A woman was overheard in the post office asking how long her daughter was in America?
Her answer - "If she was here today she'd be gone a fortnight tomorrow!"

When did you first start writing?

I tried for years and years, but my attention span was too low. I remember I wrote my first play at the age of 25, it was called 'A Fig For A Kiss.' Once I knew I was able to complete something there was no stopping me then. The play was staged locally at the world famous 'Valley House' on Achill Island. The house and it's owner is what inspired the J.M. Synge play, 'The Playboy of The Western World.' I'm almost could say I started writing properly at aged 25.

What's the story behind your latest book?

I paid for some marketing data ahead of time, to see my projected sales figures and marketing report, and what shocked me the most was that the program compared my novel 99% across the board, in all writing categories, with Nicholas Spark's 'The Longest Ride.' Stylistically we are very similar however our stories are polar opposites, therefore I like to call my novel 'A Nicholas Sparks tale gone horribly, horribly wrong." or " A Nicholas Sparks tale for of sex. drugs, swearing and murder.

It's two stories that converge into one interwoven tale. You have Wesley Harding, A misanthropic loner, a law student studying at NUIG, who looks down on everybody around him. He becomes infatuated with one of his classmates, Myia Dawkins, and when tragedy strikes, he flees from Galway City to Achill Island where he hides out in a commune that practices Primal Scream Therapy. As his therapy progresses he changes his identity, becomes an online cult figure and an internet sensation.

The other story involves criminal profiler, Detective Sergeant Jimmy Daniels, who overlooks the Major Crimes Unit in Galway City. He's sick of bureaucracy and PC culture getting in the way of his job, when he is suspended he ponders whether he can perform his job, in an age where one wrong footing or phrasing causes outrage amongst the public. He must battle these obstacles as he hunts down two missing persons, a young girl by the name of Stephanie Madden, and a student by the name of Myia Dawkins. As the tale progresses, his story-line begins to mingle with that of Wesley Harding.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

The possibility to be able to portray my art to the public and have it available long after I'm gone. Artists don't need publishers to be recognised or accomplished, and musicians are boycotting the old record label system in order to have complete creative control, I believe if you're confident in what you've produced, you, as the artist, have every right to display your work whatever way you see fit, it's exciting. It is very motivating, if James Joyce could do it, why can't !? My main accomplishment on this indie adventure is that, whatever happens, I sincerely hope that whoever reads my book thoroughly enjoys it, regardless of whether they like it or not.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Going into a bubble and becoming a passenger as your characters take over your muse and their actions and dialogue flow out of them, down through my body, out through my fingers, onto the keyboard, and onto the screen, seamlessly. The joy of knowing you have something typed and printed that could inspire somebody someday.

What are you working on next?

I'm working on a novel called 'Mortlake.' It's about the 16th century hermetic scientist and magician, John Dee, and his controversial scribe, Edward Kelly, who was able to communicate with angels in their angelic language, Dee would then write down the language and translate it. John Dee is known to have invented the British Royal Navy and instigated what is known today as the commonwealth. He died penniless, obsessed with astronomy and angels, searching for the actual philosophers stone. I don't know yet if I want to write it in the Fibonacci sequence, if I do I'll structure it so each line follows the sequence closely. I'm going to have to listen to a lot of Tool. I think after about five pages I'll probably start tearing my hair out, it's going to take a long time to write. Then, obviously, The Keeman's Fortnight, Volume Two, which is roughly 30% written.

Who are your favorite authors?

Patricia Highsmith, Herman Hesse, James Joyce, Olga Tokarczuk, (I can never pronounce her surname correctly) Yeats, Dostoevsky, Sue Townsend. Joseph O' Connor, ...There's more, I just can't think of them right now, but those are the authors and writers that pop into my head almost immediately.

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