Foto: Jeremy Massey
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
My plan, as a kid, was to become an actor. From a young age, I always loved movies. I watched my favourite ones over and over, obsessionally, fanatically. When I finally left school, I went to acting school in Dublin for a year, and I loved it, but not as much as breathing, which, to my surprise, was the case with nearly all the other actors studying with me. When I finished the year, I ended up working in the funeral business for five years, but realised that it wasn’t my life path, so I left it and wrote my first screenplay, which felt like discovering fire. I knew then that I’d found my path, and all those movies I’d watched, and the acting I did, were really just my moth dance around the flame of story.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
When I finished the final draft of Paddy Buckley, I knew it was ready, regardless of its destiny. And when I found my agent, I knew she was the one to bring it to the promised land. Eight publishers turned it down before Riverhead picked it up. It took me six months to find an agent, and another six months to land a deal.
Could you describe literature in three words?
Music for souls.
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
There are thousands of books I’d never read. I’m a fussy reader. I’ve got to love the narrative, the music of the novel, and I have to be intrigued. Because I’m usually writing something, I’m careful about what I pick up. Unless a book comes highly recommended, I gravitate towards the masters.
What’s your favorite book?
Let me give you a few titles that stopped the clock for me and stayed in my heart for years. The Magus by John Fowles was a wonder to read. Wheels within wheels within wheels. Fowles blew my mind with his genius, and in that regard, he stands alone. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse found me at a time when my world had been rocked by the death of my brother, and it became my best friend and led me to fall deeply in love with Hesse’s writing. Steppenwolf and Demian also became marvels for me, and of course The Glass Bead Game. Recently, I discovered This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski, which took my heart in its hands and crushed it a little, but with the whispers of a master, and really it was devastatingly beautiful. I was surprised to find that such a book had been written. Hands down, the most honest account of what a human is capable of when faced with the unthinkable.
We’re all just walking each other home. –– Ram Dass.
EBooks or paper print?
The tangible experience of holding a book in your hands and of turning the page is a joy to behold, and beats the ebook experience every time for me.
What inspires you?
Moral courage inspires me. Originality inspires me. The laughter of children inspires me. Fearlessness in the face of darkness inspires me. And kindness with no motive lights up my barometer of inspiration like a Christmas tree.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
It would have to be The Mad Hatter. His is the kind of insanity that feeds my soul, and the most delicious kind of madness imaginable. I’d love to go on a series of adventures with him.
What’s your worst nightmare?
A demise into dementia or hardcore Alzheimer’s would probably qualify as my worst nightmare. Hopefully, I’ll be spared that level of hell, and be blessed with a relatively quick and peaceful exit.
The best decision of your life was?
Without any question, the best decision of my life was deciding to ask my wife, Holli, to marry me.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
I’m writing a novel about a court fool in sixteenth-century Italy. It’s a bigger book than Paddy Buckley, and a very different story. Instead of taking place over four days, it spans forty-eight years, covering a period in history that always fascinated me. It’ll be another year or two before it hits the shelves, but hopefully worth the wait.
Thanks for reaching out, Jessica. Stay in touch.