Buy Mick Donnellan’s novels in Paperback now! – “El Niño” and “Fisherman’s Blues” available here.

 

 

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

 

 

Pick up El Niño on Amazon today! Buy El Niño Now!

**

Fisherman’s Blues.

Fisherman’s Blues – is the hilarious new novel from Mick Donnellan.Dark and audacious, written in a distinct West of Ireland vernacular, it covers a myriad of genres from Crime Noir to comedy and an odd bit of religion. Fresh in its language, vivid in its descriptions, the book sings with the signature style of all Donnellan’s previous work, and a bit more. Delving into the lives of drinkers, lovers, thieves and scam artists, the story weaves a web of intrigue and curiosity that ends with an unforgettable bang. Not without its poignant moments, the plot hinges on the chaotic consequences of three unlikely comrade’s attempts to save their lost relationships, while unintentionally ruining the plans of a rising criminal’s efforts to take over the city. The question is: Can they succeed? And if they don’t, what then? And where have the women really gone?

€9,99


Buy Fisherman’s Blues direct from Amazon now!

El Niño brewing after the edits, working as an extra, Poteen on the film set. #18 –

Had the first draft of El Niño written. Needed to let it settle and make some money. So I got some extra work, playing darts in the background of a pub, silently mouthing  the word Rhubarb with strangers like we were friends. Apparently saying Rhubarb had all the relevant mouth movements to make it look like we were talking. The other odd thing was that they gave us real drink. Like real lager, or Miller, or whatever it was. You’d be out there on set at 9 in the morning and the first thing they do is hand you a pint and say: Just keep whispering Rhubarb.

Besides that, people took it very serious. There was big lights on the ceiling and massive cameras and a myriad of people with gigantic headphones and clipboards. Everyone seemed to have a specific purpose and nobody wanted any ripples in the cinematic ecosystem. Here’s a spot on the ground, marked by white tape, don’t stray off that or you’ll end up in the shot and ruin it.

It was going great til Eddie and John arrived.  I reckon they were both big Johnny Cash fans because they were wearing black shirts, black jeans, black shoes and slicked back hair greying at the sides. Both were in their late forties and downing pints as fast as they could get them.

This morning we’re doing a scene about a girl returning home as a surprise. She’s been to Australia and the taxi pulls up outside and she comes in and shocks everybody. We’re already on the fifth take. The director wasn’t happy with Eddie’s reaction on the first one.  As extras, we’re supposed to remain completely silent so the microphones can pick up the dialogue from the actors. Eddie missed the memo on this because when the girl walked in he raised his pint and shouted: “Whoooo heeyyyy!!! Welcome home darling!!”

Cut! Shouted the director. Followed by: ‘Guys, please, only the actors can speak.’

The second take wasn’t much better because John ran over when the girl walked in and tried to help her with her bags. ‘Here, I’ll take that, fair play to you girleen, welcome home!”

Cut! Shouted the director. ‘Guys….I don’t want to have to mention this again….leave the acting and dialogue to the actors…’

Eddie tripped over a light on the third take and John knocked his pint on the fourth and got thick with the fictional bar man when he was refused a new one. Then Eddie went to the director to give him some advice on better ways to shoot the scene. Particularly as it would mean more exposure for the extras.

It’s now take six and Eddie’s asleep on a couch in the imaginary sitting room next door. Arms folded, head back, mouth open, snoring.  John’s asking me in a slurry voice: ‘Who’s round is it?’

‘It’s not a real pub, John.’

‘Fuckin real pints though. Mine is after spillin….prick behind the counter has me cut off….I’ve a dhropa Poteen out in the car, will I go out and get it ta fuck? Myself and Eddie are at it all morning…’

Action! Shouted the director.

‘Up outta that!’ Shouted John. Then to me: ‘How many times do we have to watch a girl gettin’ out of a bloody taxi? They should have someone right runnin’ this place.’

 

Mick.

**

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

First draft, Mirco Edits, Less Cider. #17 –

People often approach Jeffery Archer and say: ‘I’ve got a book written, what should I do now?’ And he replies: ‘You don’t have a book, you have a draft of your book….’

It took about 16 weeks to write the first draft of El Niño. I’d started in August and was determined to be finished by Christmas. It’s important to have a deadline, otherwise you’ll write into infinity and never finish it. Most days I wrote, and kept the evenings steady. Some poker, some bowling, less cider. I noticed that, even if you have only two pints the night before, your synapses don’t fire as well the next day. You miss tricks, key lines, good dialogue. There’s a crackle in the creative reception that wouldn’t be there otherwise. If you can get a run at a project, say three or four straight days of full on working, then you hit a kind of zen. You hear writers talking about this all the time. They say – “I sat down to write at 9am and the next time I looked up it was 1.15pm. And I have no idea where the time went.”

The manuscript was 50,000 words and about 220 pages. I remember printing it for the first time and picking up random pages and reading them to see if they sang. Sometimes they did, others they didn’t, but I knew at least I had a document that could be worked with, sculpted into shape, made totally complete.

The best thing to do, after finishing, is to leave it for a couple of weeks and then come back to it and read it fresh. Like a new novel written by someone else. When discrepancies arise, you mark them down.

E.g. Why is the sun shining on Page 10 and it’s raining on Page 11? Why would Charlie agree to do a robbery when he has so much to lose? Are the relationships believable? Is the ending obvious? Is it too long? Can anything be cut?

When you answer those big questions, and feel that story is a bit closer to where it needs to be, it’s wise to do a micro edit. This means going through every page of the book, line by line (with a red biro), and marking out all the spelling mistakes, awkward sentences, stray apostrophes and lethal homophones.

E.G. You’re house. Your a clown. (Your house. You’re a clown).

There faces are yellow. (Their faces are yellow.)

They’re is a time and a place for everything. (There is a time and place for everything.)

Their is no way these sentences sound right. (There is no way these sentences sound right.)

Two be or not too be. (To be or not to be.)

To’s company. (Two’s Company).

Two many to faced people. Where are you going too? (Too many two faced people. Where are you gong to?)

When you do this for long enough, eventually you’ll spot a mistake from the far side of the room. It’s an intense experience but ultimately makes you more intimate with your book. You’ll soon know each page by heart and when you change something on Page 5, you’ll automatically know how it affects the story on P 60.

You’re balancing an entire fictional universe in your head and when something goes awry, you will know about it. Every minute you spend doing micro edits makes it a better book.

El Niño wasn’t done after the first draft, or the second or third. Eventually I realised it would take at least another 3-5 months to get it right. How’s the credit card going to feel about that, Micky?

Mick.

**

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

El Niño, and the pub, and the great Art of Procrastination. #16

In the pub, Paddy the poet has a book of Poems written. They’re all in a crumpled notebook in his pocket. Last year the big publishing companies turned him down and he’s been drinking about it since. No one understands him. But soon they’ll all learn when he makes it big. No more of that “mainstream crap.” Meanwhile, Dave’s a singer/songwriter. Is working on some new stuff. Has a friend who’s going to set up a recording studio next year and they’re going to make an album. No point doing anything until then, better just wait til “…it’s all set up….’  Amanda the actor’s just back from an audition. She doesn’t think it went well. Then again, this is not exactly London. She trained in London, see. In a place called after Shakespeare – big names came through there. €10,000 a year to train. Her parents money. Learned the Chekov technique. Is thinking maybe Ireland is not for her anymore. Will move to back to the UK soon and start her career properly. No point yet, til she gets the money together. Knows a new theatre company starting up after the summer. Waiting til they get it together. Have guaranteed her parts. Ideal for the Chekov technique. They’re applying for funding from the Arts Council too. And if they get that, they’ll pay her. And then she can make the move back to the West End where the real work is.

Meanwhile it’s Joe’s round. Joe’s a novelist. Working on a new draft. Showed it a fella last year, who knows a fella whose dad had a book published in 1975. The advice was to try a different angle. Hobbits and Fairies have been overdone. Nobody wants to read about goblins anymore. What’s the new thing, the new edge, the next frontier of evolutionary fiction? Joe says he knows what it is. Has the idea. But won’t tell anyone in case they steal it. He’s going to start writing it soon.

Here comes Samantha, just back from doing extra work on the set down town. She met some famous actors and had coffee with a sound guy. Thinks the contacts are good for the future. Samantha wants to work in TV. She did a Masters a while back and has been going from nixer to nixer ever since. Last year she got a speaking part on Fair City. They told her she did great and have her on file for more. But if that doesn’t work out, she’s going to start “…making my own stuff….” Her boyfriend John’s got a camera and there’s a few lads she knows from the Masters that are good at the “editing stuff.”

Amanda the actor says this is s great idea and if she needs any actors to let her know. Samantha says she will of course, but doesn’t sound like she will. Joe reckons he can pull a script together if they need it and Paddy says he’ll provide some Poetic lines if she wants it. The pints are here now, Guinness and lager all around. It’s Wednesday so Dave’s playing tonight at the Open Mic tonight. He’s not sure if he’ll do it because he thinks the other candidates play a lot of rubbish and he wants to ‘…keep it real….’ but we all say we’ll go to support him, and don’t be daft, he’s brilliant, and no point going home til then. Thanks, he says, and we all take a drink.

 

Mick.

**

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

 

 

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

Pure sick from dhrink, broke while writing El Niño, discipline goes out the window. #15

Writing 9-5pm every day is great in theory. Until you’re stone broke and pure sick from drink. Some evenings you’d go out for one pint and end up rollerblading the prom at 4 in the morning, trying to keep your balance, with a can in one hand and a naggin in the other, and you never having rollerbladed before in your life.

You get up the next morning and you look at your computer and you know there isn’t a hope of making sense. That’s if you came home at all. Often you’d end up back at a house party of some crowd you’re only after meeting and you wake up on their floor not knowing who the hell they are. Your teeth feel like they’re wrapped in cotton wool and your tongue is welded to the roof of your mouth and you can still taste a toxic kebab from some Lebanese house of hygienic ill repute.

It mightn’t be as bad if you’d gone home, except for the strays you picked up along the way. You go down to the sitting room and there’s two or three bodies thrown on the floor, surrounded by empty cans and dead phones. And the garlic smell of perspired drink would knock a horse.

You know your housemates aren’t happy because it’s a Tuesday night and this sort of thing is not acceptable to “working people.” They were woken at 3am by Paddy pressing the doorbell and again at 4am by Laura looking for the toilet and walking into their bedroom. At 5am, James got in a fight with Tom about Northern Ireland and broke a bottle off the wall. Now there’s glass all over the floor and James and Tom are nowhere to be seen. When Laura came back from the toilet she wanted toast and raided all the presses til she found rashers and eggs and tried to cook them all. She burnt the rashers and set the smoke alarm off and got such a fright she spilled the saucepan of boiling eggs all over the floor. She eventually went to the 24 hour shop and bought a Jambon and a bar of chocolate and, when she returned, kept pressing the doorbell to get back in.

Then Paddy, full of Dutch Gold and courage, tried his case with Laura but she has a fella. They’d had a fight and he’s been ringing her all night but she won’t answer. She won’t put the phone on silent either. Eventually her and Paddy fall asleep on the ground in a spooning position and it’s just you and Gary drinking 50 cent Firken Brau lager from Lidl and talking shite about American politics and conspiracy theories around 9/11, and JFK, and Roswell and the Moon Landing.

So now it’s the morning and your head feels like it’s full of an expanding glacier of pain. You make a fuzzy attempt to clean up while the others sit around and watch. Laura’s trying to book a taxi but she doesn’t know the address. Paddy’s wondering where’s a good place to get a full Irish breakfast. Gary’s rolling a cigarette on the couch and says the Living Room is a great spot for food. And they do lovely Heineken. So we all go there and you promise to write twice as much tomorrow. To make up for today’s lost word count. Just need to eat first. And get some of that Heineken to take the edge off. And it’s Wednesday. And it’s not even noon.

Mick.

***

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

Green Diesel, writing what you know about Athlone, handy dusht. #14.

I set the the Post Office robbery in El Niño in a small North Galway town called Headford. It was a pivotal part of the book. It gave the characters a genuine reason to leave their home town of Ballinrobe in Mayo and move their criminal organisation to Galway City. I’m from Mayo and was living in Galway at the time so just walking down the street was akin to research

Too many writers set their work in places they’ve never been. New York, London, Dublin. They have some idea about all the good stories coming from the big cities that you see on TV – but how can you describe a place if you’ve never been there? Some writers will scream: Research?! Imagination?! Talent?! – yet the best fiction comes from people who write what they know.

I teach writing a lot now and I’m always amazed at people’s ideas to write a book “….set in South America….” Or “….about an African Tribe wiped out by Colonials….’ Sure, these types of books are written but rarely by debut authors. They’re often funded projects written by authors that have a proven track record. The (paid) writer will go to South America and live there for a while. Or visit the African tribe being written about. If you can’t afford to do any of those things then keep it local til you can.

Also, in your own locality, you hear people speak every day. You see their way of life. You witness human moments. All of these things are vital for your novel to have a ring of authenticity. But, says the student, what if I get sued for writing about real places? You won’t get sued. Who’s going to sue you? You’re writing fiction, not Journalism or Biography. The key is to use your locality as a touchstone for your work, not record it entirely. People love to read about their home town or place. They’re delighted to see it’s unique nature recorded. John Steinbeck is a great example of this. Or John B. Keane. Or Roddy Doyle. Or John Banville. Or Stephen King. Or any great writer you can think of. It’s so simple it reads like magic.

I don’t live in Galway anymore. I live in a place called Athlone, but I set my new book: Champagne Mozzarella in Galway. I figured I’d lived there so long, and knew so much about the place, I’d be able to write from memory. Turns out it doesn’t work that way. Although I wrote some of it before the move, I could feel the world start to fade. The sounds got dimmer. The streets got darker. The truth began to decline. I’d go down there regularly for teaching work and speaking events and come back revived. But if too much time passed then the creative distance seeped in again and I’d lose sight of the story. Eventually the solution hit me: Write about Athlone.

So instead of using my creative energy trying to imagine what Galway is like today I can look out the window and get ideas from whatever I see right in front of me. It’s like alchemy and it saves time and hardship and unnecessary research trips and leaves more time to do what you’re supposed to be doing: Write.

So originally the line was: ‘Hey, Charlie, will you pick up a truck load of green Diesel in Rahoon?’

And now it’s: ‘Hey, Charlie, we’re doing a new deal with an Athlone crew. Need you up there for while to get things set up.’

‘What is it?’

‘Green diesel. Handy dusht. Don’t fuck it up.’

Mick.

***

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99


Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

Ran from the Bowling Alley, writing the Novel El Niño – Process and Structure. #12 –

After researching the robbery of Chartbusters, and getting ran from the Bowling Alley, it was time to sit down and push El Niño (the novel) forward. I knew two things were needed – Process and Structure. Having been a writer for a while up to now, it became obvious that inspiration is a fleeting, unreliable thing. Real writing comes when you want to do it least. If you wait to be inspired, you’ll never write anything. This is why so many people sit around the pubs and coffee shops and say: ‘I have an idea for a novel, I’m going to start it next year….’ or ‘….it’s all in my head, I just need to write it down….’ when it comes to the laborious, tedious part of the work – the least enjoyable part – nobody wants to do it. There’s a misconception there that writing ought to be a divine experience of unrelenting pleasure after which award winning books appear at no personal cost to the author.

At the time, I was sharing a house with three other people that worked 9-5pm. This was ideal because I could work around their schedule. When they left, I’d have the house to myself and begin writing. At 11am, I’d take a break until 11.20am and then work until 1pm. At exactly 1.08pm, my housemate, an accountant, would come home for lunch. At this point, I’d leave the house and go for a walk and have a sandwich in Eyre Square. I’d be back to the house for 2pm and then write until 5pm. My aim was to have 2000 words of decent material by the end of the day. Some days it was 1700, others it was 2400 so it all balanced out. So I had my structure – now what about process?
My brother was doing a project at the time about cars. He asked me to look over it. It was all about new diagnostics for the upcoming smart revolution. Mercedes were doing this new technology where they put radars in the front grille that sent out signals to the road ahead to see what hazzards might be there. There’d be a constant relay of information and if an obstacle should appear up ahead, the car would automatically slow down and alert the driver. I thought the same concept could work for writing so I began to plot the chapters before writing them. I’d write down some key notes on paper about where the story is going – e.g One of the gang gets caught, rats on Charlie, cops arrive and threaten Charlie….what happens then? Charlie agrees to cooperate? Tells them go fuck themselves? How does this affect story up to now? What does it mean for the plot going forward?
Then I’d sit down and write it out. By the end of the day I’d have all the questions in the notes answered and do the same again tomorrow. This ensured a coherent way forward as opposed to writing all over the place and having to throw most of it out later. The writing itself was first draft and changed dramatically along the way, but the story stayed mostly the same.
The crucial thing was that I knew how the story would end. This is important. A story with no ending can potentially go on for infinity. Put in an ending, even if you change it later. You need to know roughly how long you’ll driving for. Otherwise you’ll start thinking about turning around and going home.
This process kept me going until Charlie and the gang decided to rob a Post Office and the question loomed – how we going to research that, Micky?
**

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

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Post Office robbed – Research and Planning. #13 –

Someone robbed the Post Office around the corner from my house in Galway. Later, I heard that two criminals had broken in the night before. They came down through the roof, and waited until the manager arrived in the morning. They tied him up and gagged him and got away with abut €12,000. It was noted at the time as a meticulous robbery. They knew that there’d be a lot of money there that day due to a Social Welfare Payout. They were also familiar with the Postmaster’s habits and knew exactly when the Time Locks would open on the safe – meaning they could be gone with the money before the public were due to arrive.

At this point, the characters in El Niño were evolving criminals. Having gone from pickpockets, to shop robbers, they were know progressing to holding up financial institutions. I knew the key things about the book by now were dialogue and authenticity. It was important to root the book in a firm, solid world. One where the characters understood, and were proficient at what they were doing – in this case: Robberies.

If you, as the writer, don’t fully understand what your characters are doing then your readers won’t either. So the advice here is to either do your diligent research or avoid things you can’t accurately describe.

Knowing a girl that worked in a Post Office was a big help. It was a fairly quiet one too so there was time to talk and explore without too many customers coming in. She was also a writer so understood the nature of what I was trying to do. I got in there early in the morning and she brought me out the back for a look around. The door through was reinforced by steel and she had to use a code to open it. Once inside, we walked in to an office where the safes and money were kept. It was a bright room with a brown carpet. There was a smell of stamps, ink and stationery and some bags of copper coins left around. A table in the corner with a myriad of till receipts and paperwork that looked like bank statements and invoices. A clock ticking on the wall above a filing cabinet with a stand alone calendar telling today’s date. Underneath the table was the lead coloured safe. A big hunker of a thing. It had an obstinate, grumpy look. My friend explained the timelocks and how, usually, two trusted people had the keys. At the appropriate time, the safe would sound an alarm, meaning you had 15 seconds to put in the keys and open it.

Both people had to be present as one key alone wasn’t enough. If the 15 seconds elapsed, then it would reset for another 30 minutes when you could try again. If that didn’t work, it locked completely for the next 24 hours. This morning the safe was open. The manager had come in, opened it, and then had to leave again. I pulled back the heavy door and looked inside. There was bags of cash, coins, stamps and paperwork. It smelled like a mix between a library and a bank. We talked for another while about who opens up, who closes and what kind of customers usually come in. Eventually, I had enough for the next chapter of the novel and went home to write. Again, similar to Chartbusters, the fictional robbery went on to form another vital part of the plot.

***

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

Researching Robberies, Losing Competitions, Big Dhrink at the Bowling Alley. #11 –

Had a big drink organised for when I won the Fish Short Story Competition. Ten grand in the bag for my entry El Niño. No doubt about it. Had it already spent. It was what in Ballinrobe you might call “Serious Dusht.” Worse still, the results were announced on St.Patrick’s Day. Shtop.

Not long before the result myself and my friend Matt were walking down the road in Woodquay in Galway to go Bowling and drinking and he said: ‘You have that nailed, I know you have, I’ve read the story, it deserves it.’

The bowling was great because you got a free pint with every game except the more games you played, the worse you got. But it was great craic. “My round, lads. Sure I’ll be loaded soon. This is great research too, might put bowling into a story some day. Anyone for a Jaggerbomb? Take the edge off Tuesday evening….”

The story got Shortlisted down tot he last 17 (out of 2000) but that was it. Didn’t even win a pack of peanuts. You log on and check the site and see the list of winners and best of luck after that. If your name’s not on it, then I guess you didn’t win. So I read some of the winning entries and like all pissed off losers I reckoned they were shite. Again what they’d call in Ballinrobe “Cat fuckin bad.”

If you need anything to keep you going as a writer it’s rage. If you take out the rage, you’ve nothing left only self doubt, self pity, blame of others, laziness and lack of conviction in yourself. Rage can be powerful enough to block out these negatives and keep you blindly  crazy enough to keep going with what can seem like an impossible task. Every time you lose a competition, get a rejection letter, be shot down by a critic or get a bad review – you put it in the rage room of your mind and eventually it subsumes into creative energy.

I’d already been expanding the El Niño story, but now I felt it was time to move forward and at accelerated pace. I needed to do some more research and Matt used to work in some kinda DVD place on the Headford Road. Streaming wasn’t that big at the time, so most of the stuff you watched you did on DVD.

I had an idea for the characters in El Niño  to do a robbery. The protagonist, Charlie, had been picking pockets up to now, but I wanted to evolve his character into a more serious criminal.

The place Matt worked in was called: Chartbusters and I asked him if I could have a look around the back. He let me in one quiet evening and gave me the run of the place. Where the money is kept, how the stock is counted, the security at night, the cameras, the metal steel door at the front and who has the keys. I got to walk around upstairs and check out the tanning salon adjacent to it and was able to work out where the exit doors were and how one might escape in the event of an unexpected police confrontation out the front. Effectively, I got to plan the entire robbery – for research. The place is closed now but I got great material for writing and the robbery became a crucial conflict point for the eventual novel.

Mick.

 

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

 

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

The Genesis of El Niño , Notions of the World Series of Poker, no call from the Late Late Show. #10 –

People e-mail and message me regularly and ask: How do I write a book? I have this book written, what should I do? I’m half way through a book – what do I do now?

I wrote my first book –  El Niño – over a period of 12 months. It started as a short story. I’d been doing an MA in Writing at NUI Galway and we’d had the chance to do a myriad of courses like: Publishing, Poetry, Fiction, Non Fiction, Journalism and Screenwriting. My strength was in dialogue. My interest was in crime.  When I wrote the shorty story, also titled,  El Niño ,  people liked it and I felt I’d turned a corner in finding my voice. Up until then I’d been trying Arrogant literary fiction, Dodgy Poetry and watery Journalism. But with this,  I’d felt on safe ground creatively. I entered the story into an international competition (Fish Short Story Prize)  and it was long listed from 2000 entries down to the last 50. The top prize was €10,000. (Ten grand like.) This was mighty and I went drinking for a week. Next thing this it was short listed down to the last 17 and I went drinking for a month. Poker was big at the time too and I had notions of Vegas and the World Series. Fuck you Phil Ivy. That Devil Fish is only an amateur. Here we go lads, get the speech ready for the Late Late Show. That was the last of it though. It didn’t win. Some other lad or lady in Texas got the dust and I got the rainy Monday morning spell of dejected dopamine. Oh well, get used to it Micky. That’s the way it’s going to be. At least I had Paddy Power online to keep me going.

As part of the journalism module we got to go down to the courts and watch the cases brought up around the city. It covered everything from fights at the weekend to small time robberies and delinquency. One day there was two lads brought up for setting fire to a chipper. They were about fifteen years old. They’d gone in the back one night to go drinking and smoking weed and they left a smouldering joint on the floor. It was a derelict place next to the chipper but there’d been a painter there that day. The painter had left some kinda flammable turpentine lying around and next thing the whole place went up in a big blaze. Later, the two lads were arrested down the Spanish Arch where they were drinking cans with burnt clothes and singed eyebrows. The odd thing about the case was all these barristers, and judges and lawyers and cops were talking across the court to each other about the case and the young lads didn’t care, or hadn’t a clue, about what was going on. They were sitting around in tracksuits waiting for the verdict: Jail, bail or community service. There was talk of criminal history. Possession of narcotics. Previous convictions. Reference to addiction, broken family homes and psychological evaluations. A whole dictionary of sociological lingo about people that couldn’t understand a word. There were other cases like that every week and soon I started thinking about expanding  El Niño .

It was a world that could be pryed open. Initially about a Pickpocket and a girl called  El Niño , (He steals her wallet – then falls in love with her) but maybe I could delve into their past, who they were and where they came from. And what kind of future they could have (if any). It was long process but once I had the idea, it was all about the labour of writing. And that’s where most writers get stuck – when the inspiration goes, how do you keep going, or why?

Mick.

**

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

 

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon

 

Theatre, Temple Bar, Flyers that become films. #9 –

Met this producer called Richie Ryan. Great man. Dead since. He came to one of my Plays in Dublin, liked it, met me after and said: ‘Let’s talk.’

I liked Richie because he wasn’t full of shit like most other people in the theatre world. He told it straight and you could make a deal with a handshake and that’d be the job done. Within months we’d organised a tour of Munster.  First I brought my Play – Shortcut to Hallelujah – to St. John’s in Listowel. It was an 11 member cast plus stage manager and two vans full of props. (We had to build a whole bar.) One van I owned,   the other was rented. Massive costs, major headaches, but well worth it. Sold plenty of books and the manager  down there liked the show and booked us into Listowel Writer’s Week for the following May.

I also had this other two hander in my hard drive called Velvet Revolution. I’d been itching to do something with it for a while. Richie was also asking if I had anything more practical to tour that could bring the costs of accommodation and rented vans down. So I cast and produced Velvet Revolution and brought it on the road. Started in Listowel, went on to Kilmallock, Kenmare and Waterville. The two actors were Cathal Leonard (Lennie) and Kate McCarthy. They did a great job of captivating the audience on their own for 80 minutes and the production headaches were minimal. I sold the programs a the door (including book reviews at the back) and then introduced the show. Once introduced, it was a scramble to get back up and do the lighting and sound cues. We had a top class fella that used to do it for €15 an hour but once I learnt to do it myself then that was another cost saved.

It was when we brought Velvet Revolution to Dublin that the real breakthrough came. Everything was self produced now. Plays, books, everything. There was no money from the Arts Council so we depended solely on ticket sales. This meant a lot of indie marketing which amounted to handing out flyers on the street in Temple Bar. About mid-week I was starved and went for an All you can Eat Malaysian Buffet on Dame Street. I’d asked Lennie to keep up with the flyers while I was gone. When I came back, stuffed with all sorts of mad curries and Bhaji stuff, Lennie was talking to a lady by the door. Turned out she ran a book club in Dublin and also liked to go to the theatre. I told her about El Niño and she insisted on buying a copy and coming to the Play that night. Ticket sold, book sold, good result. She was also an incredibly nice person, had a rare genuine interest in new work, and was eager to see it supported and promoted. After the Play that night, she said she was very impressed. Loved the voice and themes and the talent of the actors. Was looking forward to the book she said.

I thought nothing of it until she called me the following Tuesday. I was walking over the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway. Her elegant voice explained she’d read the book, and her son was a film producer in London, and there was a similarity in artistic taste. “Perhaps I should put you both in touch?’ She suggested.

Sound, says I, I’d only love to talk to him.

***

 

Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).

El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.

€11,99

 

Click here to buy El Niño Direct from Amazon