Old MySpace Blogs
… these 13 blogs appeared originally on MySpace in 2009 and 2010:
1 As I Was Walking Down Dawson Street – Jun 15 2009 (Mon 7:00 pm)
Recently I walked into Hodges Figgis, one of the largest bookshops in Dublin. I found myself standing in front of their Irish language section. Before me, the names of the more prominent Gaelic authors were placed in alphabetical order along the shelves in the same way that names are tagged in the English language fiction sections. My eyes fell to a gap, an empty space half a foot wide, in an otherwise crammed shelf. There was a label directly beneath the void. I did a double-take when I saw the name O Searcaigh.
Cathal O Searcaigh is one of the most prominent and highly talented poets writing in Irish today. His poetry is, or was, studied on the secondary school syllabus. Recently he fell foul of public opinion when it was alleged that he was involved inappropriately with young boys in Nepal. People were outraged by these allegations. Fury and opprobrium were vented on the usual phone-in programmes.
I am not in any way condoning O Searcaigh’s (alleged) behaviour, but why remove the man’s poems from a bookshop? Why leave his name-tag there, the absent books above it speaking volumes? Were Hodges Figgis making some kind of statement by displaying his name beneath a vacuum of books?
If the alleged unsavoury personal lives of writers are to be taken into account when stocking the shelves there ought to be a lot of empty spaces! Not wanting to trivialise the matter, but what next? Deliberate gaps in the music stores where Phil Spector CDs should be – no more copies of Ike and Tina singing “River Deep, Mountain High”? Empty spaces instead of OJ movies on the DVD racks? The issue is not so much why a bookshop decides not to stock a certain author’s books, but the manner in which it is done by Hodges Figgis. Why are they going about it in this hamfisted sledgehammer way by leaving an empty space (it’s been kept empty for months!) above a writer’s name? Answers on a fiver, please.
2 Reading and Signing in Montreal – Jul 23 2009 (Thurs 7:01 pm)
I will be reading at Worldcon on Friday August 6 at 1.30 in the afternoon. Location: P-521A – I presume this is in the convention centre at Palais de Congres. In the half hour allocated I’ll probably end up reading and talking about the Maurice Walsh award-winning story “Lost Notes”. But, you never know, I might do something entirely different!
The book signing session is on Sunday August 9 from 1–1.30 pm, somewhere deep in the Palais. No doubt better location info will be available on the day.
Earlier that Sunday morning, Aug 9 at 11.00 in P-524C, I’ll be on the celebrated Albedo One Magazine world-domination panel. Hopefully Bob Neilson, John Kenny and Frank Ludlow will also be in attendance so all four Albedo editors will be there to tell you everything you always wanted to know about the magazine, the Aeon Award for short stories, and Aeon Press.
3 Books to Borrow or Buy – Aug 26 (Weds 2009 11:08 am)
Several people have asked me lately where they can get my American-published books in Ireland. As far as I know there are over 190 copies of the three titles in the Irish library system, so one ought to be available in a branch near you. Failing that, your local library should be able to order in a copy (dammit, I shouldn’t have said that – now you know how to read one for free!).
If you want to buy a book, Chapters Bookstore in Parnell Street, Dublin, stock all three (thanks to Sarah Lundberg of the Seven Towers Agency).
Signed copies are available at the following rates from the Albedo One address. Just send a cheque to:
Albedo One, 2 Post Road, Lusk, Co Dublin, Ireland.
Alternatively, you can pay via Paypal by emailing: dmbc(at)gofree(dot)indigo(dot)ie
LONGEVITY CITY (hardback novel): 18 euro or 14 sterling or 25 dollars.
LOST NOTES (paperback short story collection): 10 euro or 8 sterling or 14 dollars.
ARKON CHRONICLES (paperback novella): 10 euro or 8 sterling or 14 dollars.
Above prices include post and packing. I have no cover price yet for BIRD OF PREY but will update the blog when I do.
4 Gremlins in the System & Other News – Oct 30 2009 (Fri 7:59 pm)
I appear to be having a few technical problems with this MySpace page, which will come as no surprise to those of you who know how well acquainted I am with modern technology. My ‘networking’ module has gone awol altogether and my ‘activity stream’ no longer displays book covers and assorted reviews. To view these you now have to click on the ‘photos’ tag at the top of the MySpace page. Two albums will appear – three actually – but the relevant ones are ‘Book Covers & Photos’ which does exactly what it says on the tin. The ‘Book Blurbs & Info’ album contains various reviews of my novels and short stories. I’ve contacted the nice people at MySpace about these glitches. Hopefully they are only temporary and everything will be on display again shortly.
It appears that Doorways magazine is on hiatus. This is sad news as they pay a pro rate! I’m hoping for positive news soon that they are back in business and that the story “Pay-Per-View Visions” will soon be published.
As regards the novella BIRD OF PREY, it will now be appearing in 2010 from CWP. The final edit of it will have to be worked around a rather long trip I’ll be taking from December to February. Life gets in the way!
5 The I Told You So Blog – Dec 20 2009 (Sun 6:12 pm)
When I set up this webpage I promised to confine the blog to book and writing related topics, so here’s the justification for what follows: browsing through some old stuff on a previous, now defunct, webpage of mine I found the following mini-interview with Lisa DuMond as posted on her MEviews website. She had asked me ‘what makes me tick’ in relation to my writing. This was on foot of her review of the short stories in the ALIENATIONS chapbook, so we’re talking about a long time ago – a decade give or take a year or two.
Here’s what I wrote:
“‘What makes me tick?’ I haven’t a clue, except that I dislike much of what I see around me. Much of what I write stems from living in the kind of society where rampant materialism makes maybe tens of thousands of people very rich while mentally impoverishing the rest of us.” This prompted a couple of emails agreeing with that assessment of Irish society way back when the tiger economy promised to raise all boats. If only I had known how prophetic that interview would turn out to be.
Now that our so-called tiger economy has collapsed, we live in a society where the government recently targeted the public service (those on small potatoes of up to thirty thousand euros per year – 5% pay cut) and recipients of social welfare (those on all sorts of benefits except pensions – cut). Our political establishment justifies this drastic action on the basis that it needs to save four billion euros this coming fiscal year, which is exactly the sum of taxpayers’ money given by the government to bail out one bank.
Those at the bottom of the pyramid now have to pay for our economic woes. Those at the top of the tree – bankers, property developers and speculators, politicians, the judiciary and legal professions – squirm off the hook with the aid of a largely compliant vested-interest and private-sector driven media. Weak opposition politicians and poor union leadership does not help. Those who run our society have succeeded in spinning into public acceptance the story that ‘we’ lost the run of ourselves during the boom years. It’s ‘our’ fault. We must ‘all’ shoulder the blame, conveniently letting those who primarily caused our recession – aforementioned bankers and property developers in cahoots with politicians – to escape at little cost.
The spin works like this: deflect the blame and you deflect the pain. Make the great unwashed believe we are all in this together. Cliches of the moment are: ‘The past is history’, ‘Forget the past’, ‘Get over it’, ‘You’re lucky to have a job so you must take a pay-cut’ (what school of economics teaches that pearl of wisdom?), ‘We must all tighten our belts’. Those at the bottom of the scale have to tighten the most. When we do come out of recession the largely unscathed moneyed establishment will continue where they left off in creating a nasty, divided, brutish society where the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom will widen all the time.
Aristotle suggested that, in a just society, the pay differential between those earning the most and those earning the least should be no greater than a factor of five. Try telling that to the bank CEO if you’re a cleaning lady and see how far you get and what reaction you provoke in our highly unequal post-tiger Ireland. Bob Geldof was right when he described the Ireland of the nineteen-seventies as a banana republic of police and priests. The difference now is we have swopped our dark-garbed clerics for a new religion: greed.
6 Various News – Feb 27 2010 (Sat 10:34 am)
March 5th-7th sees the seventh annual running of the Phoenix Convention in the Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin. The usual readings, panel discussions and charity events will take place. Looking forward to meeting all you usual suspects there. Speaking of readings, I have one coming up on Wednesday April 21, courtesy of Sarah Lundberg of the Seven Towers Agency. The short-story reading is scheduled for 1.15 pm, part of the lunchtime reading series in Chapters Bookstore of Parnell Street, Dublin.
One more bit of news: Kelly Christiansen of CWP tells me that my novella BIRD OF PREY is slotted in for ‘early Fall’ so I’m looking forward to doing the final edit on that. The other project I’m working on, an as yet untitled novel, is almost finished but the bad news is it’s only at first-draft stage. Plenty left to do there!
7 BIRD OF PREY edit + Readings – Apr 15 2010 (Thurs 10:46 am)
I’ve just returned an edit of the novella BIRD OF PREY to Rob Mancebo, my editor at CWP, so things are progressing there. The story is a little longer now – almost 34,000 words give or take a word or two, which may be exactly what happens next after the editor has a look at it.
The reading as part of the Chapters Lunchtime Series takes place next Wednesday, April 21, at 1.15 pm. I’ll read “Uplands”. That I’m looking forward to as I haven’t read it before, even though it’s been published six times (four times in Irish magazines and collections, once in both the UK and US). It’s time I dusted it down and had it published once again!
The following Saturday, April 24 at 2 pm in the Central Hotel in Exchequer Street, I’ve been invited to read the title story from the LOST NOTES collection. This is part of the Writing4all Convention scheduled to take place that day.
8 My Pal Syd + Another Reading – May 16 2010 (Sun 3:50 pm)
Bumped into my old pal Sydney Veneer the other day. Syd, who’s living down in Waterford now, tells me he has a story forthcoming in the UK magazine Midnight Street. This will be Syd’s second publication in Britain. He once sold a story to Nasty Piece of Work – a stunning piece about an intergalactic social disease, no less – and also had stories in several Irish magazines: Woman’s Way, Albedo One, Writings and Ireland’s Eye as well as an article in First Contact. He’s started writing poetry lately, so he tells me. Good luck to him with that.
On a personal note I’ve been asked by the Centre for Creative Practices to do a reading on Monday May 24 at 7 pm in their premises at 15 Pembroke Street Lower – two readings actually. I’ll read a short story (“Lost Notes”) plus a novel extract (from ARKON CHRONICLES) with possibly a break in between followed by a Q&A session. It’s only a fiver in – and it’ll be handy for Leeson Street afterwards.
9 The Lost Episode of LAST – May 25 2010 (Tues 11:11 am)
Trying to confine this blog to writing and book-related topics can be a hard task at times, especially when it comes to something that compels you to write about it because it has supposed tie-ins with creative and imaginative fiction – the last episode of the TV series LOST, for instance. Last night I watched the final episode and soon realised why I’d abandoned watching the series a few years ago.
Ordinary soap operas tend to have about three emotional peaks per half-hour episode. That’s the formula to which many of them are written. LOST was overly emotional in almost every scene. Enough tears fell from, or welled up in, the eyes of the characters to flood the entire island. The scene toward the end where Our Hero spoke to his ‘father’ summed it all up. Thanks to modern technology I rewound their conversation and replayed it. My ears stood out on stalks – yes, I’d heard it right the first time. Their conversation floated around the edges of things. Like the series itself, it was coy and hinting but delivered nothing. Almost every question was answered with another question, like listening to two cute Kerry farmers talking around the price of their land. Example: Our Hero – “But she told me I was leaving…?” ‘Father’-figure – “You’re not leaving, kiddo, you’re ……….. movin’ on.” (Please, spare me.)
To put it plainly, the entire series was built on twaddle. Not even clever twaddle, just recycled old tosh, completely annoying and devoid of texture or depth. Cloyingly manipulative music was used shamelessly in almost every scene – sickly sweet, a fitting accompaniment to the emotional hokum unfolding before our eyes. What’s maddening and saddening about all of this is that people out there really believe this series was ground-breaking, interesting, original and cool – which compels me to say it was the opposite: dreadful rubbish – a triumph of style over substance, shallowness over depth – in short, a complete victory for marketeering.
10 Getting Bigger All The Time – Jun 24 2010 (Thurs 12:46 pm)
BIRD OF PREY, that is. The first edit saw it grow from thirty-one and a half thousand to thirty-four thousand words. Having worked on the second edit with Rob Mancebo of CWP, it now stands at a whopping thirty-five and a half thousand plus. At the rate it’s going it might soon need to be called a novel rather than a novella. I always reckoned a novel weighed in at at least 40,000 words. Definitions I’ve heard about lately suggest that there’s no hard and fast rule. Where do novellas end and short novels begin?
Two short story sales to report – both in the USA: “Key to the City” (a story about the demise of Dublin) has been taken by Bill Tucker for the anthology series DOOMOLOGY (edited by Lawrence Dagstine – Library of Science Fiction & Fantasy Press) and “September 2nd” is due for publication in OG’s Speculative Fiction magazine.
11 Hollywood Here We Come – Aug 30 2010 (Mon 7:57 pm)
Great news the other day. Dublin film director Thomas Hefferon is taking out a film option on the short story “Shelter” from my 1995 chapbook BROKEN HEROES. Thomas bought the Albedo One published collection in Dublin’s much missed Dandelion Bookshop way back in the nineties. The story, first published in FTL, the magazine of the old Irish Science Fiction Association (in issue six in the autumn of 1990), stayed with him all these years and struck a chord with his filmic imagination. Now he’s in a position to turn it into a short twelve or fifteen minute film. It’s incredible to think that this can happen to a story first published nearly twenty years ago and last published in ’95.
An Option Agreement is being drawn up and the film adaptation is being co-written by Thomas and his screenwriting partner. The project is then going before the Irish Film Board for funding. My fingers and toes are firmly crossed that all goes well. If finance does come through, the resultant movie will be produced and shown at film festivals worldwide. It might even be nominated for an Oscar! Not that I’m getting carried away or anything. Excuse me now, I must go look for my feet – I can’t see ’em anywhere near the ground. By the way, where’s me tux…..?
12 A Christmas Blog – Dec 20 2010 (Mon 11:31 am)
Would you believe that it’s Christmas week and I haven’t posted a thing on this site in over three whole months – that’s scandalous, tsk, tsk. Not acceptable behaviour at all, etc, etc.
Next year I hereby promise to do my best to be more prolific.
What to report? Even though book publication of BIRD OF PREY has been postponed from this year until next summer (still on course mind, only delayed), 2010 has turned out to be a good year in that my work has appeared in, or been accepted for, at least nine publications during that period. These appearances or acceptances have been in magazines and anthologies as diverse as Revival, OG’s Speculative Fiction, Midnight Street, Stony Thursday Book and Membra Disjecta, to name a few. And of course this does not include the film option of “Shelter” – for which I’m still ironing that tux.
PS – I’m thinking of starting a new website early next year.
13 Just Like the Buses – Dec 22 2010 (Weds 2:28 pm)
No posts at all in over three months. Then, like the buses, two come along. This could become addictive.
The Albedo One editorial team’s annual Christmas bash was snowed off in Dublin last night, boo-hoo. So I emailed the lads to tell them that I spent part of the afternoon in Swords and came home with two CDs, both from the HMV 2-for-12-euro price range. The first was Led Zep’s double album “Mothership”, the other being a Robert Plant CD – naturally. So to fend off yesterday evening’s cabin fever I played disc one of “Mothership”, which comprises the best of Led Zep’s albums I through IV. Well, it just blew me away and would make you wonder why we bother listening to anything else. Can’t wait to put on disc two. And for SIX euro! Grab it while you can.