Good evening all. I’m sorry this week’s guest is being posted a little late in the day, but I’ve had a sick little girl at home today. So everything was on a go slow!
I’ve another great guest this week, Declan Lyons, a writer that hangs out in the Goodreads Ireland Group. Together with fellow members, all keen readers, they have contributed to writing a book to mark ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’; the year-long celebration of Ireland, its people and all that is great about its connections, both at home and abroad.
With ‘The Gathering’ as a broad theme, group members were invited to take up the challenge to produce a collection to be published as an e-book. The only criterion applied was that contributors would not be existing Goodreads Authors, so this is a first time publishing experience for all these contributors. Some have not produced a creative writing piece since they were at school – a long time ago for some, not so long for others.
The pieces are printed here as they were received, and were not edited, revised or curated in any way. Some contributors communicated over the Goodreads Group; exchanging ideas, sharing experiences, offering encouragement. Others opted to work on their own.
As well as being a rewarding creative project in its own right, the Goodreads Ireland 2013 Writing Challenge will deliver an additional tangible benefit – all profits from sale of this e-book Mile Failte will be donated to the National Adult Literacy Agency, an independent charity in the Republic of Ireland committed to supporting people experiencing numeracy and literacy difficulties to access learning opportunities.
Bernie, Jack, Lucia, Declan, Barbara, Cathleen, Edmund and Ted all started with a blank page and now see their work published.
Carmel : Declan I was so impressed when I heard about this book that I had to invite you on here, to help in a small way to get the word out.
So, can you tell us a bit about yourself – Where are you from, married/single/children, what do you do?
Declan : I’m from Dublin, born and raised, and I’ve been dating my girlfriend for a couple of months. I’m one of those unfortunate people who lost their jobs when the recession hit, but I’m lucky enough to have a loving family who keep me sane and busy… But mostly busy.
C: That sucks Declan, but I’m very happy to hear you have such a great support network. If your life was to be made into a movie, what genre movie would it be and who would play in the starring roles?
D: It would be a surreal indie comedy. I have this ability to attract ‘colourful characters’ who are different to the rest of us. Quite recently a woman attacked me on the street, blaming me on kicking her dog. I called the police telling I was being attacked by an aggressive woman. Her response was ‘who the f*** are you calling aggressive?’
I’d like Michael Fassbender to play me, just because I’m a fan of his. I think he’s one of the best actors of his generation.
C: There’s nowt so queer as folk, as my Nan use to say! Scariest thing that has ever happened to you? Apart from that aggressive woman of course!
D: Once I was attacked by two men with clubs. It’s not exactly a cheerful story so I’ll move on to keep it light. I didn’t suffer anything more serious than a few cuts and bruises, though.
C: Thank goodness you came out fairly unscathed! Right to balance things out a bit – funniest thing that has ever happened to you?
D: When she was around three years old my sister, Katelyn, called me a bastard. I know that shouldn’t be funny but I couldn’t stop laughing for hours.
C: Out of the mouth of babes and all that! My little girl, she’s almost 4 and repeats everything she hears! Can be very funny. Most famous person you have ever met?
D: That would be Tina Turner, although saying I ‘met’ her is a bit of a stretch.
When I was around nineteen years old I spotted a group of photographers and onlookers standing outside the Clarence Hotel in Dublin. Curiosity got the better of me and I walked over, being nosy. After a couple of minutes she left the hotel and I’ll always remember how gorgeous she looked. She was almost the same age as my grandmother, which was hard to get my hear around. The reaction of the crowd was nothing like what you’d expect nowadays. There were a few gasps and lots of big smiles, but there were none of the usual hysterics you’d associate with modern celebrity culture. That’s not to say we weren’t all smitten with her.
I shook her hand, but if I’d had the bedrock of confidence I have now, I think you’d have leaned in for peck on her cheek.
C: She still looks incredible today! I’ve never seen a woman age as well as Ms Turner, she truly is a legend. Best advice ever given to you?
D: ‘In a hundred years, who’s going to care?’
Too many people are held back by insecurity. The most unfortunate thing about this piece of advice is that those who are most in need of it are the least likely to heed it. It’s so true, though. Typically the worst thing that might happen to someone is that some idiot might laugh, but said idiot will probably have forgotten all about it by the end of the day.
C: That’s really great advice. Who inspires you?
D: My grandmother, Margaret. She’s as tough as nails and is she’s not someone to suffer fools. I come from a pretty tough family who are quite rugged and macho, and the men are even worse. If ever something gets me down, I always try to think about how my grandmother would handle it. She ‘d probably just pick herself up and carry on, unfazed, no matter what the situation was. Having a role model like her, who just perseveres, is very important, I feel.
C: I love that answer. My grandmother, incidentally was called Margaret too, was one of the biggest influences on my life. Celebrity crush? Or do we know answer already – Tina Turner!
D: I’m a sucker for nice eyes and a pretty smile. I have a few, but the one that always surprises people is Fern Britton. She has the kind of smile and eyes I like, but there’s a twinkle in those eyes, too, that’s very alluring.
C: Good answer, she’s very charming for sure. Tell me about your Goodreads Group and what we can expect if we pop by.
D: The group is full of people who love discussing books as much as reading them. We’re a pretty diverse bunch which shows in our reading history, with books as diverse as Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and James Plunkett’s historic, Dublin epic, Strumpet City. Not to mention that we’re a very friendly bunch.
C: Give me 3 words to describe your best self and 3 words to describe your worst self.
D: Confident, conscientious and hardworking.
Impatient, moody and argumentative.
I’m pretty outspoken, too, but that can go under either heading, depending on who you ask.
C: Girls or boys night out, room for 10 in the limo, who are you bringing with you? (Dead, alive, fictional, celebrities, friends, the choice is yours!)
First up would be my mate, Steve. Every man should have a friend with whom he can act like a big four-year-old. For me, that’s Steve. The rest are as follows: Dara O Briain, Billy Connolly, Graham Norton, Stewart Francis, Stephen Fry, Lee Mack, Sean Locke, Jimmy Carr and Eddie Izzard.
I think a night out with the lads should be a laugh, so comedians are always the first people who spring to mind with questions like this. I’m adhering to the strict rules of a boys’ night out. Otherwise I’d be tempted to bump one of these guys for Sarah Millican.
C: That sounds like a lot of fun right there in that limo. Great choices. Stephen Fry would probably be in mine too. Describe a perfect day and night for me, where are you and who are you with?
D: Perfect days are usually perfect because of the company you keep. I recently had a wonderful day out with my girlfriend in Sligo (where she’s from). Some of the highlights included sightseeing, a wonderful meal in a gorgeous restaurant by the river and plenty of alone time. There’s nothing I’d change about that day to make it better. That tells me it was perfect.
C: I always want to know what my guests are reading, so what are you reading right now? And is it a paper book or ebook?
D: I’m reading Unspoken by Irish writer Gerard Stembridge, in paperback. It was a Christmas gift and I have to admit to having never heard of it or Stembridge until very recently. The book deals with the changes in Ireland which happened throughout the 1960s with the establishment of RTE, economic development under Seán Lemass, and the introduction of free education. It’s a wonderful read, which I highly recommend, filled with a wonderful array of characters, such as the Strong family from Limerick
C: I will check that book out, sounds intruiging! What was the first book you ever read?
D: It was Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I’m lucky to have had such a wonderful book as my first read, and I’ve always had a real love for it. A lot of other children’s authors have fallen by the wayside over time, but Dahl’s stories seem as wonderful as ever.f
C: If you could pick any career in the world other than what you do now, what would it be?
That’s tough. I can’t really make up my mind, but it would be something that gave me the opportunity to travel. The more exotic and remote the locations, the better.
C: Who would you like to meet most for a chat? Dead or alive. Fictional or real.
Again, that’s tough. I think Arthur Conan Doyle would be a good choice. On one hand he was brilliant and a man of science. On the other he believed in fairies. I love to meet him in person to get a truer impression of the man.
C: Wonder what Arthur would make of me! Quick fire round, pick one of each of the below –
Beer or cocktails Teetotal
Jeans or dress/suit Suiting up
Sun or Snow Sun
Beach or Pool Beach
Cats or Dogs Dogs (I’m a dog owner)
Theatre or Cinema Cinema
Pink or Green Green
Night in or night out Out
Paperback or eBook Paperback
Lobster or steak Steak
The Walking Dead or Downton Abbey Walking Dead (but I’ve never seen either)
Football or Rugby Football
Flying Solo or with a gang Solo (mostly)
C: What is the best compliment anyone could give you?
D: ‘It’s great to see you.’
C: What genre do you write and when did you start?
D: I only started writing last year, and I’ve been trying my hand at various genres, including horror. I think most of what I write would be classed as popular lit, and most of what I’ve written, so far, have been short stories.
C: Of the characters you’ve created through writing, which one is your favourite and why so?
D: In one of my short stories I wrote a character called Mr. Salinger who’s an amalgamation of dapper, elderly men (mostly widowers) who I would often meet while walking their dogs. Once I’d finished writing him and had read over the related passages, he seemed very real to me. He was a familiar and reassuring presence. I felt I’d written him perfectly.
C: I’m smiling at that, because I totally understand that feeling. It’ wonderful when you get a character just right. Can you share something with us about one of your books that you’ve not shared with anyone else before?
D: I don’t keep a lot of secrets. I don’t think I’m capable. I would have made the worst spy ever.
C: What are you working on right now?
D: I’m writing a novel about how the recession has affected the people in my area and the affects of long-term unemployment. There have been a few fairly successful novels based on the down-turn but none of them have spoken to me, personally. I think there’s a place for it.
Declan has shared a small extract of his WIP for us.
He looked at me with dying patience. He had the weary look of a man who had seen it all before and was too tired to pretend he cared.
‘So, you don’t know what you want do with yourself, is that it?’
‘Pretty much, yeah,’ I answered, uncomfortable with the turn our conversation had taken.
He shook with indecision; unsure if he speak his mind or hold his tongue. He spoke after a moment.
‘There’s no-one else can tell you that, son, but of I was you, I’d rather do anything than be just sitting around feeling miserable. You look like shite, kiddo. I don’t know if anyone’s told you this, but you’d make a bag of dead puppies seem cheerful.’
‘Jesus! Thanks,’ I said, but I was smiling, despite myself.
A smile came to the auld fella’s face, too, as he clipped the lead onto hid dog’s collar.
‘Before I go, I just want to say one thing.’
He stood up straight and looked me straight in the eye. There was a touch of pain in his expression as he spoke.
‘If you want nothing out of life, you can’t be upset when that’s what you get.’
Hearing that really hurt.
Thank you for stopping by Declan, wishing you the very best of luck with your writing, we’ll all be watching!
Chat soon everyone,