At the Praetorium

My latest paperback, just published on Amazon.com and Amazon Europe.

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Throned, Dethroned…

Just as I was beginning to feel good about being No 1 on Amazon Kindles – in the Artists and Architects forum – I find I have been relegated to No 2 position. Nor will that last much longer – my 5 Days Free on Kindle is soon to come to a close. During that brief spell my book – Notes on the Past Imperfect – received about 50 hits. Up until then, damn all movement in the sales department. ‘Someone trying to tell me something?..

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Cover of my book designed by Andrew Brown.

Cover of my book designed by Andrew Brown.

On first seeing it I was a little taken aback; but then, as I began to look at it, dwell on it, slowly, it began to dawn on me: this cover is a winner – whatever about the content!..

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Notes on the Past Imperfect

I’ve worked and lived in communications all my life: journalist, subeditor, editor, actor, director, producer, preacher – here in Ireland and abroad.

I fell in love with Hiberno-English a long time ago – English as it is spoken and written in my country – and have been in love with it ever since.

My scripts have been broadcast on RTE, Radio One, BBC 4 and, in translation, on European networks;
televised on RTE One, BBC One and Channel 4;
staged at the Peacock by the Abbey National Theatre,
at the Project, the Eblana, the Liverpool Playhouse and on the London Fringe…

So yes, I am a dramatist, not a novelist. There is a difference – indeed, betimes, a big difference. (But that’s for another day…)

My favourite format? Radio Drama. By far. At its very best the listener is a fly-on-the-wall: eavesdropping, over-hearing, listening in, privy to the most intimate, soul-searching monologue, revealing dialogue…

I worked in RTE’s Drama Department for some 16 years in the ’70’s,’80’s – directing, producing, scripting, editing. During that period I wrote and produced some of my own plays – well received and reviewed for the most part, they were subsequently broadcast by the BBC and, in translation, on European networks.

Later… some years into my (early) retirement… it began to occur to me: six of my scripts were inter-related, in the same mould/vein, out of the same stable, so to speak… The same voice/voices… similar, complementary story-lines…

So, Sean, re-work them as chapters/sections/modules in print format and hey, you have yourself a book!

In sequence:

CENTRE CIRCLE
FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
DEAD MAN TALKING
PENNY FOR YOUR TRAVELS
PLAYBACK
JENNY ONE, TWO, THREE…

Moves forward and backwards – sometimes sideways! Disjointed narrative – rather than neatly strung together…

At times I knew where I was going – or so I thought. At other times I was drawing a chain out of muddy water – a link at a time.

Moves from Alcoholism to Marriage Breakdown to the Generation Gap… Yes, I know, well ploughed earth; but this ploughman has a different furrow – style, flair?..

The text: sometimes prose… other times, poetic prose… ever so often, poetry – in free style…

Kept putting it aside, it kept re-surfacing, demanding an audience, readership.
This to give you an idea of what I’m at, where I’m coming from…

Hard to define, my book – literary fiction, a kind of memoir, more than somewhat autobiographical… A mosaic of sorts. Spiced with a wry sense of humour.

Writing “within myself” – for sure…
‘Will make you forget you are reading a book..? Again, for sure.
I avoid the traditional narrative format for the most part; I prefer direct speech – monologue, dialogue. (I’ve left out the bits the readers would skip, anyway!)

To begin to read… then find yourself listening… to a voice, voices… from another place, another time… Voices from Ireland of the 80’s… (Before Civil Divorce became law in the Irish Republic.) Phone calls, recalls, spilt milk… The pain and the laughter, sorrow and joy, of a Yesterday world.

So… at the beginning of last year I went to work: re-working, editing, shaping six play scripts as a Word doc. Not easy, but at least I had a foundation on which to build. I toyed with various titles… finally settled for the one that is now on the cover.

Ah, the cover! Let me explain: I had come across Catherine of the Many Coffees in my search for publishing know-how. From her I have learned much: her WordPress blog is always entertaining, heavy with links, nods, nudges and hints. A goldmine, in fact.

Thanks to this young woman I found Andrew Brown, Cover Designer Extraordinary – and reasonable, into the bargain! When he first sent me his idea for my book’s cover, I was somewhat taken aback. But then, it began to grow on me and I came to see wisdom in his madness… (Do I hear someone saying it’s the best part of the book?!!)

Other things followed: Smashwords… Create Space… Amazon Books… Kindle… CreateSpace was for me a dream come through. In this way I was able to download the text of my magnum opus… together with Andrew’s cover – and they did the rest…

If your need is to be spoon-fed, if you have little desire to be challenged, mentally stimulated, if you wish to be left untouched in your comfort zone, if you have no stomach for the fray… then NOTES ON THE PAST IMPERFECT is not the book for you!

That said, there remains the bottom-line question: why did I write it?.. Oh-hh. Honestly, I don’t think I can answer that one, not in so many words, not at all adequately… I had learned some basic rules of thumb as I explored the Art of Writing: write within yourself; look in your heart and write; to thine own self be true…

 It is ME talking/confessing to my fellow man. And if my words strike a note in the heart of Everyman, that is reward enough – to know that, deep down, I have made contact with Mankind…

Some time ago I gave a workshop on Creative Writing in the College of Arts and Communication. Dun Laoghaire. I spoke without notes for over an hour, as is my wont, engaging the participants from time to time in open discussion. Towards the end of the workshop I was asked what I myself was writing, what  my ambition was for the future..?

I thought a while, then said – “I’d like to write a book consisting of monologue and dialogue, only. With little or no narrative. I don’t think it’s ever been done. I may not succeed – but it won’t be for the want of giving it my best shot!..”

A former colleague of mine in RTE, John Quinn, an educationalist, public speaker and himself a writer of no small stature wrote me on reading my book:

I have been reading “Notes on the Past Imperfect.” Heart-wrenching to read, assuredly difficult to write, but you fashioned an extraordinary story from that imperfect past with great courage and honesty.  An amazing achievement to forge a unity from the six stories and to do it while remaining true to the monologue/dialogue format with such consistency. Well done!

“Penny for Your Travels” particularly moving and beautifully told.

 Brilliant title!

 So thank you and congratulations. Be proud.

 

I rest my case…

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Notes on the Past Imperfect

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Now free on Amazon Kindle – for 4/5 days. A great read – even if I say so myself! A great cover created by the one and only Andrew Browne. Stirring – and quite genuine – comments:

“Quite marvellous. Maybe that’s what great lit does for us – allows us to weep the tears we have been holding captive…” – S.C.
“So hit by the rawness and swept away by the fluidity… A deep, soft poignancy that’s really touching…” – J.W.
“A cascade of words which seems to tumble out one on top of the other before disappearing in any number of poetic eddies. Brings to mind reading Francoise Segan.” – J.H.
“He can put things into words that I can only feel – so much of this book is flaying me, I’m hurting, but it’s a hurt that I can deal with and I value.” – J O S.

 

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Notes on the Past Imperfect

Image

Now free on Amazon Kindle – for 4/5 days. A great read – even if I say so myself! A great cover created by the one and only Andrew Browne. Stirring – and quite genuine – comments:

“Quite marvellous. Maybe that’s what great lit does for us – allows us to weep the tears we have been holding captive…” – S.C.
“So hit by the rawness and swept away by the fluidity… A deep, soft poignancy that’s really touching…” – J.W.
“A cascade of words which seems to tumble out one on top of the other before disappearing in any number of poetic eddies. Brings to mind reading Francoise Segan.” – J.H.
“He can put things into words that I can only feel – so much of this book is flaying me, I’m hurting, but it’s a hurt that I can deal with and I value.” – J O S.

 

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Proof Pages – Final Check…

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