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What’s – ah – going on with our – ah – newsreaders and – ah -presenters?

Brendan Gerad O'Brien

Concern is growing among British – ah – listeners and – ah – TV viewers about a deadly virus that’s affecting numerous – ah – broadcasters and – ah – presenters. It’s even spreading to – ah – weather girls and – ah – traffic reporters!

The horrifying result of catching this – ah – virus is to be unable to complete a single sentence without numerous – ah – irritating hesitations and a large smattering of ‘ahs’, even when reading the main news in front of millions of people.

According to the experts this is just another blow-in from America where it’s common for public figures, even the President himself, to sound as if they’re speaking off the cuff, and therefore portrayed a more honest, cooler image.

Of course, once the trendy ultra-young producers at the BBC picked up on this they were bound to emulate it simply because…

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Apocalypse now in a minute

My mother tormented us as children with visions of the Antichrist, a charismatic leader who will rise out of the political chaos that’s going to engulf the world any minute now. Effective and attractive, people will flock to him as they desperately seek some sort of direction out of the mire.

But as soon as he’s established himself he’ll turn into one of the most formidable dictators of all time, forcing everyone to have the ‘mark of the beast’ on their forehead or wrist, otherwise they won’t have access to food, money, healthcare or any other essentials for life.

We argued that after Hitler and Stalin, surely the world would not allow another dictator like that. But her answer was always the same – look for the signs. When the horsemen of the Apocalypse are unleashed, those with eyes will see the unfolding situation

– the intense change in the weather. Horrendous heatwaves, ferocious floods, tremendous tornadoes. Tsunamis, earthquakes, and drought will increase dramatically resulting in disease and illnesses on a huge scale

– which will interrupt the food chain causing shortages and famine

– and civil unrest as people struggle to survive

– while the useless politicians run around like headless chickens blaming everyone except their own incompetence.

Biblical fantasy, I hear you mutter. But as I’m sitting here watching the World News – the Amazon on fire, Russian forests blazing out of control, dreadful floods cascading down through India, the worst tornadoes in history tearing through the American coastline, the North Pole melting, the seas rising, the seas choking with plastic rubbish, suicide bombs at polling stations in the middle east, schoolchildren kidnapped in droves in Africa, Christians being massacred in Africa, Muslims being massacred in China, I have to stop and wonder.

Every news channel has wall to wall politicians, talking heads spouting white noise that’s full of senseless bile. Their only purpose seems to be to throw a handful of bullshit at anyone who opposes their righteous opinions and hope a huge amount of it sticks. But they have no idea of what’s happening outside their own isolated bubble, and they don’t have a clue about how to start preparing for the tidal wave of chaos that’s coming over the horizon.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.  

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Where’s the Bulldog gone?

Brendan Gerad O'Brien

Growing up in Ireland we had it thrust on us that the
British were like a bulldog – independent, resilient, capable of facing down
any adversity that came their way. A glass half full nation who treasured their
democracy, who believed that a vote was sacrosanct and had to be honoured however
badly it ruffled the feathers of the losers.

So I’m bemused by the tsunami of negative defeatism that’s
been pouring out of the British media over the past three years, especially
from the BBC who seem to be taking the Project Fear as Gospel.

What happened the Bulldog that faced down the shroud wavers
who screamed that if you sailed over the horizon you’d fall off the edge of the
world, and went on to build the most formidable navy the world had ever seen?

Where’s the Bulldog that ignored the doomsters who said if a
train went…

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Where’s the Bulldog gone?

Growing up in Ireland we had it thrust on us that the British were like a bulldog – independent, resilient, capable of facing down any adversity that came their way. A glass half full nation who treasured their democracy, who believed that a vote was sacrosanct and had to be honoured however badly it ruffled the feathers of the losers.

So I’m bemused by the tsunami of negative defeatism that’s been pouring out of the British media over the past three years, especially from the BBC who seem to be taking the Project Fear as Gospel.

What happened the Bulldog that faced down the shroud wavers who screamed that if you sailed over the horizon you’d fall off the edge of the world, and went on to build the most formidable navy the world had ever seen?

Where’s the Bulldog that ignored the doomsters who said if a train went faster than ten miles an hour the passengers would suffocate, and went on to create a means of transport that shaped the world?

Where’s the Bulldog that ignored the appeasers who wanted Britain to sign a pact with Hitler because they believed they couldn’t stop a German invasion?

I thought Britain had put to bed the doomsters who howled that if the UK didn’t sign up to the Euro it would be cut loose and floated off into the Atlantic where the whole country would die of starvation within a couple of months?

Can it be the Bulldog has been replaced with a pup? Good luck, lads. I’ll see you on the other side.

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An NFReads Interview With Author Brendan Gerad O’Brien

 

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

* I’m Brendan Gerad O’Brien.

I was born in Tralee, Ireland and now live in Newport, South Wales, United Kingdom.

As a child I spent his summer holidays in Listowel, Co Kerry where my uncle Moss Scanlon had a Harness Maker’s shop. It was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters, and it was there that my love of storytelling was kindled by the likes of John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, who often wandered in for a chat and bit of jovial banter.

The numerous short stories I’ve written are based on those characters and have been published in various anthologies and eMags over the years.

I’ve self-published twenty of them in a collection called Dreamin’ Dreams

Dark September is my first novel, a thriller set in Wales during WW2.

Gallows Field is my second thriller and is also set in WW2, only this time in Ireland.

A Pale Moon Was Rising is a follow up thriller involving Eamon Foley once again.

Footsteps is my latest thriller, this time set in 1960 Ireland.

What are the stories behind your books?

* I’ve been writing short stories for as long as I can remember. I won my first competition when I was eight years old. I was so excited I ran all the way home. 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 prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. I loved essays and English literature.

But I left school at fourteen and went to work in hotels in Killarney. And I got caught up in the buzz of the tourist industry – remember this was the 60s and the Beatles were creating a music revolution and swamping the youth with hopes and dreams of a wonderful future. So I felt no great urgency to write. I dreamed of being a writer. I wanted to be a writer. But somehow life just got in the way.

I joined the Royal Navy at eighteen and was sent to the Far East where I spent the first three years between Singapore and Hong Kong. And again I was having so much fun I didn’t get to write anything, although there were loads of stories bursting to get out.

It was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to put pen to paper. The result was Dark September, an alternative history novel set in Newport during WW2.

I loved writing it – I always write in longhand – but I hated typing it. I’d be clattering away into the early hours on an old Olivetti typewriter and getting on everyone’s nerves. Amazingly, I found an agent but she insisted on some major changes so I spent a year re-writing it.

Unfortunately my agent died and it took ages to find another one. And he demanded even more changes. It became too much for Jennifer and the kids so my manuscript hibernated in the attic for a few years.

Then Jennifer bought me a computer for Christmas – with Spellcheck!

This time finding an agent proved impossibility – they only represent people who’re famous for just being famous.

In the meantime – while my book was languishing in limbo – I discovered 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. And I realized too that 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 vocabulary. We’ll use a dozen words when one would do. So I build on that and set all my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit. I’ve written hundreds of stories, most of which are still stuffed in drawers somewhere. But I did manage to get most published over the years in anthologies, e-zines and magazines.

I published Dreamin’ Dreams as an eBook and in paperback through Amazon KDP. It contains twenty of the stories I’m most proud of. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other. 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.’

What inspired your creativity?

* The idea for Dark September came when I was on exercise in the Brecon Beacons with the Royal Navy. I wondered what it would be like running for your life through such terrain from someone who wants to do you an injury.

Then I saw disturbing footage of Nazis disposing of people with special needs and I felt tremendous sympathy for their families. How would I react if I was in that position and Germany invaded the UK? Where would I take my child? Being Irish I felt it would be natural to gravitate to Ireland, which was neutral during WW2.

Of course once I started writing the story it took on a life of its own. Characters reacted in ways I never intended. Decent characters turned into monsters half way through a chapter, even a sentence. It was exciting and disturbing at the same time, and I enjoyed of writing it.

My favourite character is Danny O’Shea – vulnerable, naïve, basically honest but thrown into a situation he has to face into or go under.

One concern I did have was making Cerys and Bethan Frost direct descendants of the famous John Frost, a real character in Welsh history. They started out as beautiful, kind and loving girls but got corrupted by love and promised riches. But so far I haven’t had any negative feedback on that, although some people thought the sudden sex and violence should have been flagged up.

How do you deal with creative block?

* I usually have an idea about what I want to say before I start, then I just write. I read it again a few days later and edit it until I’m satisfied. Sometimes I have several chapters on the go at the same time. Then when I read them back I’ll make adjustments as to where the story is going. Half the fun is surprising myself at how the story takes on a life of its own.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

* Unrealistic plots show disrespect for the reader. Lack of consistency in the behaviour of a character as well as poorly thought out dialogue. But the worst sin is a lazy conclusion to the story, especially if a sneaky clue is dropped in at the last minute to justify lazy plotting. They’re all the things that I hate in a book.

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

* Probably the hardest part of writing a book. I would suggest getting a book designer to do the cover for you if you can afford it. It needs to reflect the essence of the book because whether we agree or not, most readers DO judge a book by its cover. So it needs to make an immediate impact.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

* I can’t pretend I’m not wounded by a bad review. It’s a human failing. I’ve had eleven great five-star reviews for a book then out of the blue I get a one-star that’s more a character assignation than constructive feedback. It ruins my day – but just the one day. Then I read all the good reviews again and accept that it’s just one person’s opinion. And you can’t please everyone …

How has your creation process improved over time?

* My creation process has settled into a comfortable pattern. Once I’ve got the basic outline of a story clear in my head I always write the first draft in longhand in a lined school jotter. Then after I’ve typed it all into my laptop I print it off and edit it again. And again! Until it looks like a book I would like to read myself.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

*The best thing is seeing the story evolve and take shape. The worst thing is getting half way through the book and realising it has evolved so much the first few chapters no longer make sense. The most surprising thing is how the characters actually take over the story and dictate which direction it should take …

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

*I think the first draft of a story is always for my own satisfaction. I play with it and enjoy the excitement of not knowing how it will eventually pan out. Once it’s done and I’m satisfied with how it looks I will then tweak it until it compares with the kind of story I like to read. I read a lot and have a clear idea of what I like and don’t like, and if it falls into that category then I’ll let it loose on the public.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

* I think emotions are crucial to any story. The very essence of a good novel is a healthy sprinkling of fear, love, hate, jealousy and all the emotions in between. But if the writer can’t conjure up these feelings in themselves then how can they inject them into a fictitious character?

Do you have any creativity tricks?

* Not really. If I’m honest I find new stories in everything I read or watch on TV. If I watch a good thriller it will trigger a new idea in my mind. The same with a good book – I’ll come away with a great plot of my own. The trick, I suppose, is to write it down quickly before it evaporates like fog in the morning sun.

What are your plans for future books?

* Gallows Field and A Pale Moon Was Rising features Guard Eamon Foley and have a thread going through them that needs a conclusion. I’ve started on the third in the series but so far it’s hit a bit of a buffer. But I’ll plod on.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

* Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners bought me a pint of Guinness back in 1969.

* I canoed down the length of Malaysia over one weekend and got so sunburnt I was hospitalised.

* I played rugby in Japan with an ex-international over 40s team who beat us 44/0. And it was live on TV.

* Bob Hope autographed my shirt in Tokyo, but I was so inebriated I put it in the wash and forgot about it until the other guys were showing theirs off. By the time I recovered my shirt the signature looked like a dirty stain.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

And thank you, Tony for including me in NFReads.com

 

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Interview With Author Frederick Ben Rodgers

Introduction

I was born in Belfast N.I on 15th January 1939 delivered at home by Dr Frederick Smith, for whom I was named. We lived in one of the thousands of 1860 era tiny slum like terrace houses typical of the city. I lost my mother the same year on Boxing Day, we had been at war with Germany for four months.

Please introduce yourself and the story behind your books!

My story spans the first fifteen years of my life. Of being adopted by my eldest sister and her husband, and taken to live in England. Growing up through the war years, and later attending a total of fifteen different schools. To finally returning to my family in Belfast and regain my family name of Rodgers. Finding myself a stranger with my father, brothers and sisters. At the age of fifteen I joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman. To offer more details would to give away the purpose of my book “Lily & Me.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

It was many years later I felt the inspiration and need to record my story. In 2000 I was attending a legion Remembrance Day dinner, there were several speeches talking about the Second World War and the Korean War. There was no mention of the First World War, when my turn to speak came, I felt the need to address that, my father had served in France from 1916-19. However, I knew so little of my family history I could only make brief mention. This was I believe the moment when a seed began to grow in me to learn more about my own history.

How do you deal with creative block?

I have authored three books, two memoirs and one fiction. I can’t say I have really suffered a period when I couldn’t write. Of course I’ve had many times when I just didn’t feel like writing.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Other than missing words lacking comas etc and probably poor grammar I don’t recall any big errors, but remember I attended fifteen schools.

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I really don’t have anything to offer, in both my memoirs I kept the title and covers simple.

How has your creation process improved over time?

I think like most things we do, the more practice the better we become. I look back on my first book and sometimes think I could have explained some parts better etc.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I think we all feel a little hurt when receiving a critical revue. I have been fortunate in this area having to date only received positive revues. Oh, a few people have mentioned my incorrect use of sentences etc. But I don’t dwell on it.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

Clearly for me the best was learning about my family and my past. You must understand I was removed from my home and siblings. In my early years I greatly lacked the sense of belonging, of being a part of a loving family. This was probably the worse part, learning of what I had missed. Most surprising was my journey of research and writing my first book. It was a most exciting time and so revealing, it gave me a real sense of myself.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

It has to be both,I needed to feel satisfaction in the story I was telling. It was also important that the reader could visualize the images and situations I was portraying. Balancing the two. Never easy and I wondered so often if anyone would ever want to read my book. I suppose that is quite natural when writing a first book especially when it’s essentially about oneself.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

This was a challenge, I spent many a restless night deciding whether or not to include a particular incident within the pages. In the end I decided on being truthful and write down the events as they happened. However, I did not include one very serious incident, which ever since I have question myself as to why not??

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Not really a trick, perhaps creative. I struggle with my first chapter, I was aware the first chapter was what kept the reader turning the pages. I decided to begin the book using the last chapter as the first. I believe it has worked out well.

What are your plans for future books?

I’m over 80 years old and health is not great, I do enjoy blogging and writing letters to the editor. However, I have no ideas or plans to write anymore books. But we never know when we might change our minds.

I served total of 23 years in the Royal Navy and RCN. I have been to the other side of the world and back have sailed under the arctic ice, surfaced through the ice on a submarine, have play soccer on the ice. I married in 1963, and divorced in 1969, I won the custody of my four year old daughter Caroline. I remarried in 1972 we had a second daughter in 1973 Susannah. My wife Linda and I live in a little cottage in Abram Village, Prince Edward Island. We have been married 47 years, our two girls are grown and moved on. We live with our two dogs, Yoda a 11 year Keeshond, and Rosie a four month old Caren terrier mix. I have self published three books, two memoirs one fiction.

In my interview today I talked only about my first book “Lily & Me” my second book follows on where the first left off “The Royal Navy & Me” Finally four years ago I attempted my first work of fiction “Chapter XI Armageddon”

Books

http://irishroversbooks.com/

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Is It Ever Right?

Seeing a shoplifter wrestled to the ground in our local supermarket today reminded me of an incident when I was Duty Manager in a major store years ago.

It was a warm summer evening and the store was busy. I was walking down the entertainment aisle when I heard the familiar thump of something being dropped into a bag. Looking around I noticed a young man wearing a long coat studying the DVDs. There was a battered old shopping bag by his feet.

I positioned myself among the customers so I could watch him discreetly. And I could clearly see how he operated. He picked up two DVDs and pretended to read them. Then he bent down as if he was putting them back on the lower shelf, and he let one slip into the bag. He did this five times, then picked up the bag and casually headed for the door.

Just then there was an urgent call for a First Aider to go to the warehouse. I had no choice.  The accident took priority, and by the time I phoned security the lad was gone.

Some weeks later I noticed him again. This time he was walking out the front door with the same old shopping bag. He went to the cash point where he put the bag on the ground while he used the machine. I passed close by him and I could clearly see a pile of DVDs in the bag. Of course I couldn’t do anything about it as I couldn’t prove he stole them, so I had to leave it and go back to work.

It was weeks before I saw him again and this time he clocked me clocking him. He gave a big grin and took his time wandering around the store, feral eyes everywhere as he picked things up and put them down again. Security tracked him the whole time, but he didn’t step out of line. He was obviously enjoying himself winding us up, and eventually he picked up a newspaper and a bag of crisps and headed for the self-service tills.

It had been a long hard week and I was feeling totally stressed out. A head office visit had gone badly and the losses were dreadful. We were on notice to sort out the issues of the disappearing stock. And now I was totally frustrated at being mocked by one of the regular thieving toe-rags.

So I picked up a couple of DVDs and got a security tag from behind the Customer Service desk. Then as I squeezed through the mass of customers at the self-service tills I casually slid them into the lad’s bag.

Security got a call to stand by the front doors, and sure enough when the alarm went off the lad smirked and swaggered away. When he was stopped and asked to show what was in the bag he got stroppy and gobbed off about his rights. But when the security guys took out the DVDs and asked him to show the receipt for them he really kicked off. It took three guards to restrain him until the police came.

I did feel guilty for a short time – until the police found three ladies purses and about thirteen stolen credit cards on his person.

Was it justified? How would you define justice?