OK, OK, I admit it I have a soft spot for Irish writers, the land of my birth, though I have long since lost the accent. While we may speak the same language as the English, Welsh, Scots, Americans and the Australians, I maintain we have poetry and words flowing through our veins. Have you guessed that this week’s guest is also from Ireland? What a surprise! Welcome, Brendan Gerad O’Brien. He now lives in Wales, but you can never take the power of words away from the Irish – not that I’m biased of course. Over to Brendan.
When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.
So writing was in my blood from a very young age. My uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Listowel – a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell so just listen to them. I was there when John B’s first story was read out on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement.
But it was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to write a book.
The result was Dark September, a brutal alternative history thriller set in Newport during WW2. Germany invade Britain. Stormtroopers attack the South Wales coast to capture the coal mines. Newport is blitzed. Danny O’Shea’s wife is killed. O’Shea heads for neutral Ireland with his son and they witness Welsh Nationalists ambushing a German convoy carrying a mysterious cargo.
But the Nationalists fall out and the cargo disappears. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman – and both the Germans and the Nationalists believe she told him where it’s hidden. Now pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to get his son to safety.
I always found writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. Great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.
For instance, the Irish are famous for their colourful and exaggerated language, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I set my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit.
Dreamin’ Dreams contains twenty of my published short stories. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.
The title comes from something my father said years ago when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’
This was followed by Gallows Field, set in Tralee, Ireland during WW2. Eamon Foley, a Local Security volunteer is in a crowded pub when his brother-in-law Joe McCarthy is shot dead. Foley thinks he sees a face from his past when he was working in Dublin and witnessed a brutal murder. Important items went missing then and the killer believed Foley took them. Foley thinks shooting Joe was a warning that they’ve caught up with him and are looking for their stuff.
But Garda Sergeant Liam Edge believes Joe was a victim of a jealous husband because of his involvement with numerous women.
Then Foley’s sister Mary is found dead in the town park.
And his son is taken by a nun in a car.
When Foley illegally obtains evidence saying who is responsible, Sgt Edge dismisses it, insisting they follow proper police procedure. With dreadful results.
My latest book is A Pale Moon Was Rising, again featuring Eamon Foley during 1944. A German submarine is spotted in Tralee Bay on the West coast of Ireland.
Next morning the body of a young man with fatal head injuries is found in the river. He’s wearing a distinctive silver ring.
Garda Eamon Foley traces the ring to Paudy Daly, who’s been missing for over nine months.
But Paudy’s father, the notorious Mixer Daly, is furious when he sees the body. Because it is not his son.
Garda Foley discovers that the body is that of a Polish seaman. So where did he get Paudy’s ring?
Then Garda Foley learns that the last time Paudy was seen alive, he was on his way to rob a pig-breeder’s house.
Thanks for choosing me for your blog, and have a great week,
I had no idea that Brendan was such a prolific writer, as the books featured here are only a part of his vast repertoire. Check him out on his Amazon author page
and thank you for being my guest this week.