‘Aspiring Irish writers hoping to follow in the footsteps of Cecilia’And these writers with their fingers on the pulse, reflecting a changing Ireland? Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Ken Bruen, Brian McGilloway, Ingrid Black, et al … They, unfortunately, were all too busy beavering away reflecting a changing Ireland to get along to the Festival. In fact, no Irish crime writer could tear him or herself away from the desk long enough to give a talk or attend a panel, lest removing their fingers from the pulse for even a moment might result in a national tragedy. The Festival did, of course, have a panel of true crime writers talking about crime and Ireland, but for the most part these were crime journalists promoting one-off books about a specific crime.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Dublin Book Festival, Sean O’Cearnaigh, President of the Irish Book Publishing Association, said that the market was alive and well here. “It’s certainly in a state of change, but publishers here have around 15pc of the market of books that are on sale in shops at the moment.” And the success of the market is all down to the talent of Irish writers, he added. “Irish writers are our secret weapons,” he explains. “We have everything from big writers to chick-lit authors to sports writers. There is a lot of talent. We have a lot of up-and-coming writers coming through as well, writers who have their finger on the pulse. Ireland is changing a lot and it’s just a matter of reflecting that, which many of the writers do.”
Crime fiction writers? Pshaw, sir! Fie! And this despite the fact that the big news stories in Ireland over the last month were the brutal murder of two Polish men in Dublin; the ongoing farce in which an taoiseach (aka prime minister) Bertie Ahern attempts (and largely fails) to explain to a tribunal his, erm, idiosyncratic accounting procedures back when he was Minister for Finance; the largest drug haul in the history of the State; the murder of a young mother by her husband, who allegedly modelled his modus operandi on that of a previous killer; etc., ad nauseum. In other words, anyone writing fiction in Ireland today who is not dealing with crime is writing escapist fiction.
And yet, if you walk into any Dublin bookstore today (other than the wonderful Murder Ink on Dawson Street), you’ll be faced with a bank of James Patterson’s 7TH HEAVEN, which is the worst apology for a sick monkey of a half-arsed first draft the Grand Vizier can remember reading. ‘Fingers on the pulse’, eh? Meanwhile, the Cecilia in whose footsteps Irish writers are hoping to follow? That’ll be the ever-lovely Cecilia Ahern (right), a creator of women’s fiction so insubstantial, frothy and sickeningly sweet that cotton candy may yet sue. Who just so happens to be the daughter of an taoiseach (aka prime minister) Bertie Ahern, who is attempting (and largely failing) to explain to a tribunal his, erm, idiosyncratic accounting procedures, etc., ad nauseum.
Laugh? We nearly emigrated.