Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was raised in a village in northern England. My English mother worked as a girl in the local cotton mill, and my Irish father relocated to the area as a youngster when his parents could no longer eke out a living on their small back-of-beyond farm in south County Sligo. I could always understand my mother’s background, and all things English, but I could never comprehend the reasons for my dad’s family choosing to uproot and settle in a different country, hundreds of miles from their “home” in Sligo. My fascination with this part of my heritage never left me, and when I had the opportunity to reside in Ireland I started to investigate my Irish roots. I found the answers I needed, and it changed my life … and eventually I started to write about this general subject.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when attending a Grammar School run by ultra-strict and devout Catholic Christian Brothers. I wrote daft short articles which gradually filled spare school exercise books to amuse my school-friends. My teachers were far from amused by my rebellious and blasphemous utterances. My books got confiscated from playground circulation, and I got a whack with a leather strap for my free-thinking artistry. When I started my first job in a technical drawing office, I resurrected my part-time writing career by submitting humorous pieces for inclusion in the in-house company magazine. In the days before personal computers, I was instantly enthralled to see my words in published print. I dabbled in commercial writing ever since until I felt confident enough to create a series of full-blown novels.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
My latest “published” book was my first novel constructed around a central theme of genealogy. Having become a professional ancestry researcher, I have collated many real-life family histories and some of the unearthed tales just had to be shared with fans of action / adventure / thriller / tragedy / history books. My first genealogical novel (of a planned series) is called “Where’s Merrill?
” and is the true story of a man born in Midwest America who became a very successful businessman – but in the 1930’s he just disappears from the planet. No death record, no burial, nothing. His grandson wanted to know how, and more importantly, why.
What are you working on next?
The follow-up to “WM?” is sub-titled “a genealogical tragedy.” The main title is “Mother’s Little Helper.” It is a stand-alone novel but links back to some of the events experienced by the family history researcher in “WM?” There are some similarities in the origins of the two stories in that both concern clients trying to find out more about elusive grandfathers – but the second novel revolves around the discovery that a shocking crime was committed by an ancestor of the second client, and this crime nearly wiped out the whole genealogical lineage. As such, the client would not have existed except for a fateful oversight. Fact-based stories are often more astonishing than fiction, in both content and context.
Published 2013-08-30 by Smashwords.
Earlier posts recall the days when Aclare village in County Sligo hosted one of the busiest Fair Days in the region. Back in the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century, the main focus of attention for buyers and sellers alike was the trade in farming livestock, followed by boisterous quaffing of ale and whiskey in the village’s many old public houses.
Today, prompted by the more genteel and nostalgic mood of The Gathering of 2013, Aclare has stepped back in time and the dozens of long-deserted old shops and business premises have risen from the grave for one weekend only. There are not many beasts of the field around (for which the Tidy Towns’ appointed street-cleaner is eternally grateful), but market stalls are displaying farming antiquities alongside freshly baked breads and cakes, lovingly made in the old farmhouse kitchens of the surrounding countryside. With an old-style Dinner Dance (for the traditionalists) and a Disco (for the younger brigade) to follow, boisterousness in the pubs might yet make a comeback.
Early morning – Aclare Old Fair Day (Re-visited) 2013
Thankfully, a growing tourism trade in our secret part of South Sligo is boosting the local economy, year on year. The unspoiled mountains and lakes appeal to young and old alike. More information about the area can be found via the link to our Walking Festival brochure (below). Everyone will be made more than welcome. Don’t all come at once though …. the beauty is in the serenity …. followed by great music and craic in the bars.
2013 South Sligo Walking Festival Brochure