Wednesday, 17 September 2014

What He Said...Did I Really Say That?

Crime and the City...Solution
A friend brought this to my attention.  It is the transcript of a reading and Q&A I gave for the Dublin City Libraries Crime and the City series of lunchtime talks last year.  It's very wierd, reading a transcription of what you've said.  There is something of the deposition about it.  Something of the courtroom and something of that feeling you get when you hear yourself speaking on tape...

Listen to me.  On tape...  On video or iphone or ice-bucket challenge or whatever.

Despite how strange it is to read my own rather rambling verbiage word for word, I actually managed to say a lot that I really stand by, especially in the Q&A part where I talk about writing and editing and researching historical fiction.  It's here if you're interested.

Here's me on researching historical fiction.  Apparently I have a 'fraudulent gadfly's knowledge' of the Irish revolutionary period.  Hmmm...someone shut that guy up!:  

One of the pleasures of being a historical novelist, one of the pleasures and the banes, I suppose because a lot of the research is really fun to do and it’s really interesting and you wouldn’t write about if you weren’t interested in it in the first place. I’m doing a new novel which is not in this series, although I am going back to this series, I’ve found myself reading the diaries of this Pioneer woman – I’m literally falling asleep reading it and I was thinking why do I have to read this? But you do because the great thing about research is it takes the story in a different direction and quite often you think you have a story set and then you come across like the fact that there were female agents and the story goes in a completely different direction. I love that about research. I tend to research widely first and then go and research for things I need in the story specifically. It’s kind of daunting sometimes. I was on the radio with an historian recently and he had a vast, comprehensive knowledge of the subject and I have kind of a fraudulent gadfly’s, you know a magpie’s knowledge of it because fiction writers research to suit the story as much as anything. I could never write a scholarly treatise on the period. But the research suddenly it will throw something up from the dullest, most banal text and you suddenly think, I have to use that. That’s fascinating. Or what often happens too is your story will be going one direction and something you read will confirm it, you know, I wonder if they would have done that? and then suddenly you’ll just fortuitously stumble upon something – they did do that. Thank God!

http://dublincitypubliclibraries.com/story/kevin-mccarthy-transcript

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lisa Reads Books and Interviews Yours Truly

Hi folks. An interview with yours truly over on Lisareadsbooks blog.  It was really fun to do, actually, forcing me to think back on my early reading habits, my working (or lack thereof) habits etc. It's a great blog. Check it out here:  http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/11/kevin-mccarthy-interview.html

Also, I'll be among some real greats of Irish crime writing this Saturday at the Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival at Trinity College. Really looking forward to it.  Details here: http://irishcrimefiction.blogspot.ie/

Friday, 1 November 2013

Irregulars Shortlisted for Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year...Author Not-So-Secretly Delighted









Well, folks, I've actually got some real news for once here on the auld blog:  Irregulars has been shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2013.  I'm really delighted by the news, I have to say, and, if nothing else comes out of it, me and the missus will get to go to the awards banquet and avail of the open bar...  What? No open bar?  Well...

Yours truly and Mariel Deegan,
Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator for New Island Books at the
Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards
Shortlist Announcement--Photo courtesy of Ger Holland, a real pro

 Seriously, it's nice to be nominated, really nice, actually, and it will keep Irregulars on the shelves for awhile longer at least.  It's an honour to be on a list with the 5 other writers.  I've only read one novel by one of the other writers, to my shame, The Holy Thief, William Ryan's first novel in his Kolorev series, set in 1930's Russia. It is a great read and no doubt his shortlisted The Twelfth Department is equally good.  So, again, a real honour.

If you want to vote for Irregulars, here's the link below.  Thanks!


http://www.irishbookawards.ie/2013-shortlist-ireland-am-crime-fiction-book-of-the-year/




Following the announcement of the shortlist at the Bord Gais Energy--see that? a plug for my gas company!--Theatre, it was into a taxi and over to the ILAC Centre Library for my reading in the Crime and the City series put on by Dublin Libraries.  It was hectic, running from one place to the other but the turnout was great at the ILAC and the Q&A was one of the most interesting I've done to date, with questions covering everything from civil war history to writing routines and much else as well.  I'd never done a lunchtime gig before and I really enjoyed this one.  Thanks to Padraig, Susan, Mary, Bernadette and all at Dublin City Libraries for their support!
Reading at the ILAC Centre library in Dublin as part of the Crime in the City series.
(My mate Oscar looking suitably bored!)
Nice tie...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Talking History

Newstalk 106-108 LogoHey folks, just a few lines here.  I did a short piece on Newstalk Radio's Talking History programme on the 21st of October.  My interview starts at around 27:30 in the link but listen to the whole show if you get a chance.  It's one of the best history shows around.  Many thanks to Patrick Geoghegan and Susan Cahill--producer on Talking History and host of her own show, Talking Books on Newstalk--for having me on.  Here's the link:


Also, will be reading on Thursday, October 31st at 1pm at ILAC Centre Library as part of the Crime and the City series.  There are details in a post below.  Come along if you're in town and fancy something other than the usual hang-sanger and bottle of red lemonade for lunch!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Gigs and Reels...Some Upcoming Readings

Crime and the City
A quick post here re some readings I'll be doing this and next month. Both of them look really interesting for anyone interested in crime fiction...ie there will be many other writers beside myself reading at them! 
On October 31st I'll be reading at the ILAC Centre library in Dublin as part of the Crime and the City series. Here's the skinny courtesy of Dublin City Libraries:
Crime in Dublin: It's Kind of Love/Hate Relationship
Crime is serious business in Dublin and we love to read about it. From novels about detectives to accounts of serial killers, from gangster biographies to analysis of social issues, we have an appetite for all of it. 'Crime in the City: Crime and History' is a series of talks and readings looking at the broad issue of crime in Dublin through the ages.
This series of events brings together writers from fiction with historians, researchers and bloggers to inform, entertain and promote discussion.
Events take place over the five Thursdays in October at 1pm and will consist of lunchtime readings, talks and discussions.

You can find details here:  http://www.dublincity.ie/RecreationandCulture/libraries/library_events/Pages/autumn_2013_city_crime.aspx


Trinity College Dublin
The second event is the New York University/Trinity College Irish Crime Fiction Festival, held this year at Trinity College Dublin over the weekend of 22/23 November. I'm really looking forward to this one as I'm on a panel with several writers of historical crime fiction whom I really admire. Also, Irish American crime novelist Michael Connolly is launching his latest novel, The Gods of Guilt, on Saturday evening where he will read and be interviewed by Irish crime novelist John Connolly. (A veritable clatch...coven(?) of Connollys!) Michael Connolly's series of Harry Bosch novels is a real favourite of mine and, now that I think of it, were a real influence on my O'Keefe novels. Really looking forward to it.
Michael Connolly's Harry Bosch novels a real influence on my Sean O'Keefe series


Here's the official bumpf:

Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival
Friday 22 November and Saturday 23 November
Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin and New York University are holding a festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring more than a dozen of the most exciting Irish and Irish-American crime novelists. This will be a memorable weekend, devoted to a key genre of contemporary Irish writing, so please make plans to join us.

We're particularly pleased to announce that our weekend will conclude with a major event: for the Irish launch of his newest novel, The Gods of Guilt (Orion Books, November 2013), Michael Connelly will be interviewed by John Connolly. After the interview, and questions from the audience, Michael will be signing books, which will be for sale on the evening. 

Books by all of the authors will be available for purchase at the festival throughout the weekend.

Tickets for 'An Evening with Michael Connelly' are €6 (inc. fees), and tickets for Friday evening and Saturday daytime events are free. Tickets for all of the festival events are available here

Friday 22 November (free tickets)
Long Room Hub, Trinity College

7.00pm-8.30pm: 'A Short Introduction to Crime Fiction: Why We Write It, How We Write It, and Why We Read It', featuring Trinity College alumni. 
Panelists: Jane Casey, John Connolly, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, and Eoin McNamee.

Saturday 23 November (free tickets for daytime events)
Long Room Hub, Trinity College

10.00am-11.15am: 'Historical Crime Fiction'. 
Panelists: Kevin McCarthy, Eoin McNamee (chair), Stuart Neville, Peter Quinn, and Michael Russell.

11.30am-12.45am: 'Irish Crime Fiction Abroad'.
Panelists: Declan Burke (chair), Jane Casey, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Arlene Hunt.

12.45pm-1.30pm: lunch

1.30-3.30pm: Surprise Film Screening

3.45pm-5pm: 'Crime Fiction and Contemporary Ireland'.
Panelists: Paul Charles, Declan Hughes, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway (chair), Niamh O'Connor, Louise Phillips.

Saturday 23 November, Closing Event
6pm (doors open 5.30), Exam Hall, Trinity College (€6 tickets)
'An Evening With Michael Connelly'.

John Connolly will be interviewing Michael, who will be signing books, including his newest novel The Gods of Guilt, which will have its Irish launch at this event.

All the deet's, tickets etc. here:  http://irishcrimefiction.blogspot.ie/



Friday, 20 September 2013

HHhH..ell Yeah!

Makes a great doorstop! Or weapon! Or gift!
Long time no speak, y'all.  Things fairly quiet on the Irregulars front.  No reviews recently to speak of though I've a gig or two coming up in the near future, more on these anon.

Anyway, with summer over and a proper job--thank God--to return to, I've not been doing too much structured writing.  Just a few bits here and there: notes, half-scenes, snatches of dialogue etc.  I have been doing some reading around the subject of my novel in progress, namely  the Indian Wars of the late 19th Century in Wyoming/Montana etc.  (And yes, I'm aware that calling the rampant, blood-soaked expansionism and treaty breaking of the period 'the Indian Wars' might, in some ways, be injudicious, but I use it as short hand.)

Aside from research, I've also just finished a fantastic book on the very nature of historical fiction: the very post-meta-modern-contemporary-historical 'novel' by Laurent Binet, HHhH.  (Talk about short hand!  The 4 h's an acronym for Himmlers hirn heisst Heydrich or 'Himmler's brain is called Heydrich')  Don't let my description put you off.  This book should be required reading for anyone interested in reading or writing historical fiction.
Post-Meta-Mod-Contempo Historical fiction...and quite brilliant as well
 HHhH is an (I assume) autobiographical account of Binet's attempt to write a novel about the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich, Hitler's very own Butcher of Prague, by Czech partisan operatives sent from London.  The story itself I was familiar with, having read a non-fiction account at my parents' house several summers ago.  The ironic--and pleasantly fortuitous--thing is that I never actually finished the account.  It came time to leave before I got as far as the assassination--baggage weight limits mitigated against my taking a hardback in my luggage--and, though I knew the outcome of the action from other accounts etc., I didn't know what became of the assassins, brave, bold, patriots that they were.  (And I mean that without the slightest tint of irony.  Heydrich was as evil as they come, even by Third Reich standards, and his treatment of the Czechs made him deserving of his fate and then some.)  This made reading Binet's HHhH a particular pleasure because he treats the story--the true story-- of the assassination with the reverence it deserves. And as a story it is beyond parallel in terms of suspense, action, treachery, love.  It's a rare book that can make you think about the process of the story being told while maintaining its grip on the story, and the reader. HHhH is a book you can't put down and yet it makes you stop and contemplate the very nature of its telling.

Laurent Binet, author of the brilliant HHhH--if you're an historical novelist or reader of historical fiction, read it.
In fact, the whole book--while telling the story of the operation, of Heydrich and Czech and Slovak history, among other things--is a reflection on the historical novelist's right to co-opt historical events and real people for the sake of fiction.  This had a particular impact on me as I've wrestled with this myself as a novelist.  Oh, I've wrestled with it...and then simply left the ring and wrote what I wanted.  But like Binet, I was wary of putting words into the mouths of characters from history.  As he says in HHhH:  There is nothing more artificial in a historical narrative than...dialogue--reconstructed from more or less firsthand accounts with the idea of breathing life into the dead pages of history...When a writer tries to bring a conversation back to life in this way, the result is often contrived and the effect the opposite of that desired: you see too clearly the strings controlling the puppets, you hear too distinctly the author's voice in the mouths of these historical figures.

On the other hand, like Binet, I am equally compelled to tell the stories that, for whatever reason, have lodged themselves in my conscious and subconscious mind.  As Binet says:  I don't want to drag this vision around with me all my life without having tried, at least, to give it some substance.  I just hope that, however bright and blinding the veneer of fiction that covers this fabulous story, you will still be able to see through it to the historical reality that lies behind.

What I'm saying, I suppose--and perhaps I'll write more about this in another post--is that the writer must treat the subjects he has chosen, the historical personages--characters if you will--with the respect they are worthy of.  Not the best sentence there, but you get my drift.  Binet has been brutally honest about the doubt and the conviction; the obsession, the honesty and dishonesty that go into a work of historical fiction.  The above quote could, in fact, serve as a manifesto of sorts.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Two Of The Greats Are Gone

In the past two weeks, two of my favourite writers passed away.  Great artists both, I never met either and yet both had a profound influence on how I write. In fact, both were so good at what they did that they could put the fear of God into lesser writers like myself.  Reading them as a writer could make you stop and shudder in wonder--How does he do that?--and, occasionally, despair--I might as well chuck it in because nothing I write will ever, ever match this...  

Elmore Leonard and Seamus Heaney might not, at first glance, appear to have much in common other than that they were both 'writers'.  One American, the other Irish.  One a novelist, the other a poet etc. etc.  But what they both shared was a love for, and profound trust in, the language of the common man.  Both had a gift for rendering the sound of speech--whether Detroit or Miami, Bellaghy or Belfast-- as it is locally spoken.  And not merely the turns of phrase, the quip or curse or colloquialism, but the rhythms of speech.

Two examples, just chosen randomly:  Heaney, from his poem
The Flight Path: "When, for fuck's sake, are you going to write/Something for us?/If I do write something,/Whatever it is, I'll be writing for/myself."  And here's Leonard from his novel, City Primeval-High Noon in Detroit:  "'Yeah, it's dark in here,' Clement said, looking around Uncle Deano's, at the steer horns on the walls and the mirrors framed with horse collars. 'Darker'n most places that play Country, but it's intimate. You know it? I thought if we was gonna have a intimate talk why not have it in a intimate place?'  Clement straightened, looking up.  'Except for that goddamn pinball machine; sounds like a monkey playing a 'lectric organ.'

One a sharply brilliant political, autobiographical poem and one a fiercely brilliant, mordantly humourous crime novel, but in both you can literally hear the men in them talking. Like they were sitting with you on the train, as in The Flight Path or in Uncle Deano's in City Primeval.  Both writers, both geniuses.  And may they both Rest In Peace.