Fisherman’s Blues, Writing Block, Pissed off Parking Meters….#25

People often say – “…I read Fisherman’s Blues and it goes fuckin’ mad in the middle….”

And it does. Initially it had been built around the telesales scam in England but then I came home and said fuck it and went cracked altogether.

I’d been wanting to explore stuff like modern Irish life, West of Ireland madness, nihilist boom time existentialism. This was going great until about page 70. Then it slowed down. Don’t know why. Wasn’t too sure how to proceed. The voice felt like it was getting whiny and indulgent and who wants to read that?

I was driving an Opel Astra at the time. 1995. Great car. Never let me down. Bought it off two Lithuanians in Ballinrobe for €650. Taxed and NCT’d and twenty euro petrol in the tank. Couldn’t go wrong.

Drove a lot. Thought a lot. Drank in between but still no way forward for the book. Amateurs and shite talkers would call this a Writing Block. Say there’s no point continuing until the block unblocks. They wouldn’t write anything at all.

But I always think it’s important to keep the mind going until the moment comes.

So I wrote short stories, had them published here and there. Won a Poetry competition worth 25 English Pounds and spent it on a round of Jaggerbombs. Big Shtuff.

Also worked on some journalism and taught some writing classes. And drove some more.

The break came one evening about 6pm. I’d been editing all day, working on a Play, getting it up to scratch. The voices echoed in my head. The conversations, the nuances, the inflections. Poetic lyricism of the language. The vast ocean of meaning; roaring in the silence of all the unsaid.

Not too sure how I ended up going the wrong way round the roundabout. One minute I was listening to the radio, cruising along, next thing there was flashing lights, lunatics running out on to the road to flag me down. A foreign lad on a bike, paused in disbelief. It was hard to know whether to keep going or try and turn around. Trucks were grunting somewhere to my right and I was starting to get a premonition of cops. I did the sensible thing and hit the brakes but that didn’t help. The roaring and flashing and beeping just got louder. Then I put it into reverse and there was a big tin bang. Cuntish, probably hit something. Hope it wasn’t that foreign fella’s bike. Checked out the rearview and saw the pissed off face of a parking meter. Not too bad. Hope I made shite of the fuckin thing.

Put her in first again and inched forward, trying to avoid the white Mazda that was after braking six inches from my headlight. Your man inside was looking out the window pure thick, like I was doing this on purpose, or his ignorance was going to help.

I played it cool, gave him the one finger salute off the steering wheel and moved forward. Behind the Mazda was a queue of incredulous cars parked in a zig zag dramatic fashion. Worse still, it was raining and it was dark. People were rolling down their windows and shouting things like: ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ And: ‘This is a fuckin roundabout ya clown!’ Can’t bate Irish people for sound advice in a crisis. It took a few minutes but eventually we all got unjammed and the cops didn’t come and I got home.

And I knew how to continue Fisherman’s Blues

Mick.

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 directly from Amazon here.

 

Bouncing Cheques and Crimewatch Outside, Photoshopped Pyramid Scheme. Fisherman’s Blues Research. #24 –

The blinds were closed, the doors were locked, and Crimewatch were outside. They were investigating reports of a bogus time share company in the south of England. Sharon said it was all hype, orchestrated by a few disgruntled customers, and it would all blow over. It usually does.

Meanwhile, the plan was to keep selling, keep doing your job, don’t be distracted. They got the phonebook out and “…organised new leads….”, further away, where the news hadn’t reached. By now, most of the other reps had been fired or left. They couldn’t handle the pressure, weren’t happy with the media attention, or the increasingly aggressive groups hovering at the front door.

The crux of the customer problem appeared to be money. More specifically, a deposit paid for an apartment in Spain. I read this some time later when the story eventually broke.

The people we’d been calling had been awarded a free night in a hotel down the road. Once they accepted, they were given dinner, some wine and a complementary plastic watch. A condition of accepting the overnight stay was they attend a seminar on some investment opportunities. Once there, they were presented with a dream story on Foreign Property. New developments. Get in early. Mutual funds. Pooled resources. All they had to do was commit £4,000 today and wait for it to quadruple in six months time. They were also given exclusive access to the apartments – pending availability.

However, it turned out the apartments weren’t available. A problem exacerbated by the fact that they didn’t exist at all. The whole thing was pure fabrication – A photoshopped pyramid scheme. £4000 for a short night in a cheap hotel and a free plastic watch. How are ya fixed?

Worse still, the cheques started bouncing. Which meant we weren’t getting paid. Sharon said they were having accounting problems with the bank and it would all be resolved soon.

Time to hit the road here, Micky. I was about to hand in my notice when Frank arrived. The man above it all. He was from Northern Ireland. The others spoke of his reputation in morbid tones. Had I looked him up on Google? Did I not know this was how it worked? It was simple. Set up a company under Limited Liability, run it to the ground and claim bankruptcy. Then set up again the following year under a new name. New entity. Everybody wins except them that got burnt outside.

I met him in the back office. He wanted to talk to me because I was Irish and had been selling well, and he heard I was leaving. He was sitting behind a desk scattered with paper punches and biros. Black hair, paunch. White vest. What did I make of England? Where was I from in Ireland? All a joke isn’t it? Am I getting paid alright?

I told him my last cheque bounced, anything he can do there?

He said he can of course, and how much was it. I told him the figure and he took out his wallet and counted out some cash and handed it over. He asked if that was alright. I told him almost, he was three pound short but it be grand. No, he said, not at all. And he reached into his pocket and took out three pound coins and handed them to me. Will that do, he asked? Twill, I said. What about the rest of them outside, waiting to get paid?

Fuck them, he said. We Irish look after each other. Let me know if you’re looking for work again any time.

Mick.

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 directly from Amazon here.

Fisherman’s Blues material, Foreign Property Scams, big lads with tattoos goin throwing shlaps #23 –

 

Jamie and Amanda announced they were having a baby. Everyone clapped, oohed and ahhed over the scan, and then they were brought into the office and fired. Not hitting the target. No job, folks. Been coming for a while. Pressure from headquarters. Pack up and get the fuck out.

They came back from the office and she was crying and he was trying to comfort her and then they left and everyone got back to making phone calls.

We were given a sheet with a list of leads, but it was fairly obvious they were photocopied from the phonebook. The job was to call to numbers and make appointments. Four appointments a day was the target. Evening shift – 4-8pm. I was hitting ten a night, so no worries there. Making good dusht. Polite English people loving the Irish accent. The others struggled, asked me for advice, listened to my pitch.

Chris spent most evenings up top calling back the clients and confirming their appointments – today’s version of a Quality Check. The essential thing was to book them in for a free night at a hotel down the road. Tell them they won a prize, selected from a pool of lucky winners, filled out a questionnaire at the local Supermarket and here we are now returning the favour.

Most of the customers were delighted. Can’t believe this, just got married, now a free night at a hotel? Wow, just gets better and better. The ideal clientele, according to Chris, were the retired. They had money, no mortgage, looking for an investment, a night away, lonely at home, some trust left in the way the world used to be. You call them up, said Chris, and if the husband answers you tell them the wife filled out the questionnaire, and if the wife answers you tell them it was the husband. Sometimes the wife or husband had died years before, but other than that it worked out ok.

Above Chris, was Sharon. Super bitch altogether. Did all the firing and loved it. Well in with the big knobs. Pants suit and predilection for chocolate at her desk. Take too long advising the new lad beside you and she’s shouting down, wondering what’s the story. Calls recorded, see. Time spent on presentations, numbers of calls made. Leads used, divided by sales should = x amount of conversions.

Conversions were calls made that resulted in booking an appointment (free night at hotel) and approved by quality check after.

As far as I could tell, they were selling something else down at the hotel when the guests arrived. Some other crew down there pushing new properties abroad or something. Not much more information divulged for now. Take your cheque, make your commission, don’t ask questions.

Soon people starting turning up outside. Randomers peeking through the window, hands cupped and squinting to see what was going on. Sharon had to lock the door and only allow people in or out that worked there. When asked about the gathering crowd she’d shrug and reply the were unhappy customers. After a while an odd journalist started to arrive, asking us questions as we came in. And one or two big lads with tattoos were looking for managers to go throwing slaps. Not the best atmosphere really. Wasn’t long before there was cops asking questions and Chris and Sharon would spend most of the evening answering questions or making statements. Mostly they’d defer to the headquarters, and a man called Frank.

Have you met Frank? Asked Charlene.

No, I don’t think so.

Oh, you’d know if you had, she said. You’d certainly know if you had. You’re a writer, aren’t you? She asked.

I am, I said.

Good, she said. You’ll get a book out of this place for sure.

Mick.

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 directly from Amazon here.

 

 

Where Fisherman’s Blues began, Kronenberg Afternoons, Paulo Cohello and the English Job Centres. #22

Hard to know where a book really starts. The longer it goes on, and the more experiences you have, the more likely you won’t finish it. It’s because you’ll keep putting in new stuff that happens, that you experience. The tone of your book will change, relative to your life experience and it’ll eventually feel like a mishmash of nonsense. I was thinking this with my second novel – Fisherman’s Blues. I knew if I didn’t finish soon, I never would. The story would be too old and jaded, having gone through too many drafts, like a shirt washed too many times. It be soon time to throw it out.

The novel began when I was living in England. I needed a job, fairly handy one, cos I didn’t have any proper credentials. I suffer greatly from Formophobia, see. A unique Irish condition. It means I feel physically sick in the presence of all forms, excel sheets, application procedures, bureaucratic questions and phone calls from Private Numbers. When someone hands me an envelope over a desk and says to fill out these forms, and get back to me, I know I’ll never be back.

But now here there was a lot of talk about Job Centres and uploading your CV. The first place I went was superbly air conditioned. And there was machines that spat out tickets with numbers on them. The plan was to wait until you number was called and talk to the polite Englishman at the desk. When I got there he asked for my details – Employee Number, Address, Utility Bill, I.D., Bank Account Number, CV, Phone Number and what kind of work was I looking for? After a pause, punctuated by Vertigo, he said: ‘You don’t have any of this stuff, do you?’

‘I’m working on it.’

Ok, sir, he said softly. I’m going to give you a bunch of forms to fill out. You’ll need to pop up to Poole and get them stamped, then have a quick chat with the Immigration, go down to the Job Centre in town and get them signed, don’t lose any of them, make sure they’re filled out properly in black ink only. Once you get that sorted, we’ll get you set up and registered here and have you in for an interview in no time at all.

‘How long do you reckon before I could start working?’

Not long, he smiled, six weeks or so.

Thanks, I said, I’ll be back to ye, and I walked outside and fucked the forms in the bin. They wouldn’t fit so I had to stuff them in. After, I felt relieved and concerned at the same time.

Not good, Micky. No Dusht. No hope of getting around them crowd. It was a hot day, with reggae music playing somewhere and lots of noise coming from busy traffic and people talking in shops. There was a smell like liquorice from the melting tar on the road.

I took a left towards the snooker hall. A 24 hour place with cheap drink. Figured everything would look better after a few Kronenberg and a couple of frames. Next thing I spotted a sign on an office window. Hiring Now. So I went for the Paulo Cohello vibe and followed the omens.

The place was called Serendipity. Figure that. Your man inside was called Chris. Wanted to know if I could speak English, had any sales experience. I told him I used to be a top sales man in a Media Company in Ireland. Which wasn’t technically a lie – I used sell Irish Catholic Newspapers for the Legion of Mary when I was a kid. Sold 20 one morning after last mass. Record at the time.

Chris asked when was I available to start, he’d pay in cheques, cashable at the shop next door. No need for forms at all. You came to the right place. I told him I’d start tomorrow and we shook hands and I left. Celebrated at the Snooker Hall. Big dhrink.

Years later, Chris became one of the main characters in Fisherman’s Blues, as did the sales office, and many other things that were to subsequently happen.

Mick.

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 directly from Amazon here.

Writing Fisherman’s Blues,Working Tefl in Madrid, Big dhrink on the €1 wine. #21 –

Most days in Madrid I spent checking my e-mail in the Internet cafe and playing online poker. When the publishing deals didn’t come and my four kings were getting busted by regular Royal Flushes, I’d hit the pub. €1 wine, see. Compare that with €5 a glass in Ireland and you feel like it’s a free bar and act accordingly. That’s the problem when you write a book. You get a notion in your head that you can’t move on to the next one until this one is published – like, who came up with that idea?

Eventually it was time to get a job, money going low, all that.

Walking up the stairs, into a TEFL school, thinking – how are ya going to handle this now, Micky. The interview had come fast, within an hour, the demand was high, see.

Everyone wanted to learn English, hire English speakers, a plethora of students roaring to spend money. Sound, says I, sure I’m after doing a watery TEFL course online. They sent me out a cert and everything. Couple that with the Degree and Masters and sure I’ll be sound.

The dominant colour in the office was green. The woman there wanted to know my background in teaching. I gave her the outlines. She seemed impressed. And could I start Monday?

I pretended to think about it. Then said Okay. The money wasn’t great, but it was a job. In Spain. In Madrid. How cool was that?

TEFL turned out to be great for the brain, got the neuro-plasticity going and kept me thinking about language, and linguistic identities, and meaning. The hours were mostly evenings which meant you could write all day. So, I pulled out an old story I’d been working on. It was originally called Last Chance Cafe, but I’d eventually retitle it Fisherman’s Blues and it became my second novel.

El Niño had been heavily influenced by American writers and genre. Some of the conversations and settings were said to be similar in style to Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke and Anthony Bourdain. Influenced by them. The publishing houses often said they were looking for something more Irish. But when I thought of Irish I kept thinking of emigration stories and more horseshit about what the church did. There was enough of that and more coming. Safe Irish guilt roaring off the shelves.

Teaching forced me to think about how Irish people talk. The way they say and describe things. The job meant a constant examination of form, sentence structure, and idiom. There was a unique poetry in the language of West of Ireland that other cultures found fascinating. It’s a show don’t tell vernacular that I reckoned hadn’t been properly explored in modern Irish fiction – or theatre. When I lived in Ireland I didn’t notice its value, because everyone talks and thinks this way. But when abroad, and learning the intricacies of all languages, it became something worth writing about.

Like Alchemy, what seemed like lead and useless in Ireland, became gold when looked at from an international perspective. Writers make this mistake all the time. Trying to sound so unlike themselves in a quest for absolute fiction – where it’s actually the opposite. The more true the better.

So I opened Fisherman’s Blues with the most Irish, some say controversial, modern phrase I could. It alienated a host of traditional readers, but engaged plenty more. And that was the plan. That’s always the plan. Break new ground, less about what’s already been done.

Mick.

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 directly from Amazon here.

El Niño sent out, Gammy bluetooth, €100 voucher for Ryanair, letters with the word “Unfortunately”. #20 –

Was thinking of going travelling but agent says El Niño could pop any day. Be around Ireland in case we need to do some paperwork, sign some deals, edits, all that. A typical advance could be between €5,000 and €10,000. This was big shtuff.

Then. The first publishing house got back, nine months later, and said it’s not for us. We’re not taking risks with new writers at this time. Please feel free to send us your work in future. The second one was the same, six months later, and the third, 14 months later said they were concentrating on a new direction towards Biography, Sports and General Non Fiction. It was said to be unwise to send to them all at once in case two of them wanted it and there’d be a messy conflict and both of them might withdraw. Something like that.

We were working down the ladder from the top publishing houses to the lesser well known. And it was taking longer each time. I kept getting images of the book being used as a coffee coaster or a door jamb, or buried in a pile of dusty manuscripts beside an overworked unpaid intern, in some stuffy office with bad ventilation and a broken toilet.

The prevailing concept at the time was all about the first five pages. If the editor wasn’t hooked by then, they’d abandon the book for the next one. This is the only way they could get through two or three thousand novels a year and still have time to produce one, maybe two. These days, I reckon it’s down to the first line. Think about the amount of less time people have. The amount of distractions. At most, you have five seconds to make a good impression, after that it’s adios. The attention span is gone. Can’t handle the work. Readers get physically tired if the point isn’t immediately obvious. You’d wonder if there’ll be any readers left at all soon.

One day then, I was listening to the radio and it said call this number to enter the competition. I hadn’t heard what the competition was but I called it anyway. I was after getting one of them gammy Bluetooths that sit on your ear like a beetle and I wanted to try it out. So I stuck it on and let the world ring. Ring ring ring. Kept thinking of Echoes, by Pink Floyd. Next thing on comes your man, the DJ. Hello, he says, what’s the answer?!

I says Howya, what’s the question? No time, he goes. A or B? Quick Quick Quick. Five seconds. B so, I said. Congratulations he goes. You’ve just won a €100 voucher.

For what? I asked him.

Ryanair he said. Book a flight, go anywhere you want, have a good Summer. Bye Bye Bye. Shauna’s going to take your details, bye.

“Hello?’ Said Shauna. “Can I have your name and address please.’

Next thing I knew I was a TEFL teacher in Madrid.

Left the gammy bluetooth at home though. Looked a bit weird in fairness.

Shtop.

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

14 drafts of El Niño later. #19 –

The devil doesn’t want you to write. When things are going good, he’ll send a circus of excuses your way to throw you off.

I was on the 14th draft of El Niño  in a 12 month period. The last four were done with the agent (See #1) and, when this one was finished, the book would finally be ready.

The edits looked like this:

20180525_113221.jpg

Then.  Here’s your friend back from Australia as a surprise, big drink? Sorry can’t. What about that wedding you’re supposed to go to? Will do the afters. And drive home sober. Will you not have one? No. Here comes a sunny day, here comes a bunch of us going away for the weekend, want to go that party? No. I’m writing. Now the doorbell rings, an unexpected guest, looking for tea and shite talk. Then a Jehovah’s Witness, followed by the TV licence man.

These are all the exterior problems. After that comes everything else. You’re tired because you didn’t get enough sleep. The rent’s due again, you should be out working. The car needs fixing. Why not play some online Poker, make a few quid, then do your writing? Hey, you’re not going to concentrate much this morning, you’ll just make mistakes and have to do it all over again. Why not watch The Sopranos for a while until you wake up properly? I know, let’s do some research, there must be some Post Office or bank or something your characters are going robbing next. Who do we know working in a bank?

So I’d conquered all that. Figured the key is to write when you least want to. Anyone can write when they’re inspired, just like anyone can make money in a boom. When the bust comes, then what?’ You need to turn off the phone, don’t open the post, don’t answer the door and plug out the Internet. Ideally, don’t use a computer that has web access at all. If you do, you’ll spend the whole day online, messing around on Social Media or looking up rubbish on Google. The rule is: Writing is writing – everything else is not. If you’re not writing, you’re not writing. You’re doing something else and calling yourself a writer.

If you pick a time to finish – say 5pm – then you don’t finish at 4.59pm. Writing, like the safe in  El Niño is time locked. If you don’t wait the appropriate time, the safe doesn’t open. If you finish at 4.59pm then that sentence, the one you’ve been waiting for, that was going to change the whole structure of the book, will not be written. It’ll come all the way up to your conscious mind and be sitting there ready for you to pull the trigger but you say, screw it, I’m finishing early today, and the moment is lost. And that’s the sentence that’ll make your book endure.

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 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

 

 

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