Sunday, June 19, 2011
Go North, Young-Ish Man
Off with us yesterday to Belfast for the second launch of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, and a marvellous day out it was too. The launch was incorporated into the Belfast Books Festival, and thus took place at the Crescent Arts Centre rather than the hallowed halls of No Alibis, which was initially something of a disappointment. Happily, the turn-out was such that No Alibis would have struggled to cope with the volume, and anyway David Torrans was on hand to MC proceedings, introduce the various speakers, and generally just about stopping short of clucking like a mother hen.
Said turn-out included some of the Northern Irish contributors who couldn’t make the Dublin launch for GREEN STREETS, including Colin Bateman, Brian McGilloway, Stuart Neville and Eoin McNamee; Niamh O’Connor, who made the trip North having missed out on the Dublin launch; Kevin McCarthy and Cormac Millar, who’d been at the Dublin launch and was attending the Belfast Books Festival; Gerard Brennan, who’d ventured South for the first launch and couldn’t get enough GREEN STREETS; Belfast-based scribe Andrew Pepper, who had chaired a conversation between Eoin McNamee and David Peace on Friday night; and the aforementioned David Peace.
Yours truly was up first to deliver some thanks on behalf of Liberties Press, and then David introduced Brian McGilloway, who provided something of an unexpected treat by reading not from his current tome, LITTLE GIRL LOST, as promised in the programme, but his next Inspector Devlin novel, ISLES OF THE BONES, which will be published next year. Stirring stuff it was too, and whetted the appetite for what sounds as if it will be the most fascinating Devlin story to date.
David Torrans then introduced a panel composed of Brian, Colin Bateman and Stuart Neville (above), who took part in a Q&A on the past, present and future of the crime novel in Northern Ireland, in the process referencing their present and forthcoming offerings - LITTLE GIRL LOST for Brian, NINE INCHES for Colin, and STOLEN SOULS for Stuart. Great stuff it was too, as entertaining as it was insightful, and terrific value for money and time. All told, it was a hugely enjoyable evening, and many thanks to all who took part, facilitated and helped out in any way.
Incidentally, I’ve written many times on these pages before about David Peace (right, with Kevin McCarthy), and how much I admire his Red Riding quartet, most recently on Friday, so it was lovely to actually meet him. It was slightly disconcerting to discover that he’s a disappointingly nice man in person - given the intensity of his prose, I was half-hoping he’d be mad, and as likely to bite as shake my hand. But no. He was the very model of friendly approachability, although it was more than surreal when he approached me, with a copy of GREEN STREETS in his hand, and asked me to sign it. Such moments are rare, folks, and I’ll be treasuring that one for a long time to come.
Anyhoo, that’s the official functions for DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS finished, and there’s a certain amount of relief involved, given that it was a very busy fortnight, and that I was concerned first and foremost that the book, and my efforts on its behalf, would do justice to the very fine body of writers who contributed, and to Liberties Press for publishing it in such elegant fashion. Incidentally, Dave Torrans had all the Northern-based writers sign copies of GREEN STREETS, this on top of all those who signed copies at the Dublin launch, so anyone requiring a multiple-signed copy should clickety-click here …
Back now to the cave for yours truly and the rather more prosaic business of hacking a plausible narrative out of the wilderness I’ve managed to cultivate around my latest humble offering, working title THE BIG EMPTY, although experience tells me that a machete will hardly suffice, and it won’t be long before I’ll be reaching for the flame-thrower and napalm. I’ll keep you posted if and when any reviews of GREEN STREETS pop up, but hopefully the hard sell on said tome is over, and it’ll be business as usual. Well, until August rolls around, and Liberties Press publish my own novel, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. But that, dear friends, is a story for another day …