Author Spotlight: Caimh McDonnell
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
A little while ago I read a sample from a book a reviewer recommended to me. I got sucked in so fast, I barely hear the whoosh. Naturally I signed up for the author’s newsletter, and when I got the opportunity to review his new release, I jumped at the chance. Let me introduce Caimh McDonnell, or the white-haired Irishman as he is called. I’ll tell you more about his new release as soon as he answered some question I asked him. But introductions first:
Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.
His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.
During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).
Now, tell us some more about you, Caimh.
Why did you become an author? Was it a childhood dream?
I’m sure it was in there somewhere but frankly, I think I wanted to be everything at one time or another when I was a kid. I definitely remember wanting to be an Apache Indian, a priest, the drummer in U2, an international footballer and a comedian. I achieved one of those things (comedian) and I’m still holding out for that call-up to the Ireland football team. I have rather gone off U2 so Larry Mullin can keep that job.
I did always want to tell stories as a kid but any chances of my being a writer were held back by the fact that my handwriting was and still is truly awful. Every time I wrote an essay, nobody could read it. Teachers kept telling my mother that I might not be that bright, she was perpetually standing her ground going ‘no, he’s a smart kid, you just can’t understand what he is trying to say.’
Then after I left school, the world got access to Microsoft Word and all of a sudden, people could at least understand what I was trying to write.
What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
Time. I have a head over-flowing with ideas and there’s a permanent sense of frustration that I can never get them all out. I think the most surprising thing about being an author is how much time is taken up by things other than writing. The reality is that when you write a book, you are starting your own business, whether you’re traditionally published or doing it yourself.
I’ve been lucky enough through my various jobs writing for TV, to have been a professional writer for over a decade before I wrote my first novel. I think that gives me a very different perspective on writing. If you’re writing for TV nobody cares if you’ve got ‘writer’s block.’ Everyone is on a deadline, so you learn to be disciplined or you don’t get the work. I prefer to think of writing as a craft than an art-form because craft implies you can work hard and get better at it, whereas art-form implies you’re sitting around staring at cloud formations, waiting for your muse to show up.
What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
My novels are set primarily in inner city Dublin but it is a version of it that is tinged with my inevitable nostalgia from living in the UK for the last 15 years. Also, my version has a little more of the Wild West about it. Certainly, Detective Sergeant Bunny McGarry, who is one of my central characters, would probably last about five minutes in the real Irish police force.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
I don’t know if exciting is the right word, but certainly the oddest thing involved reality spookily mirroring the world of my imagination. In The Day That Never Comes a group of homeless protesters take over a building owned by the Irish government that had been left vacant for years. That exact scenario played out in real life in Dublin just before Christmas. The real building is called Apollo House and it was about a 4-minute walk from where I’d placed the imaginary one in my head.
Who is your favorite Indie author?
Tough question but I’d go with Sean Platt, David Wright and Johnny Truant a.k.a the boys from the Self-Publishing Podcast. First and foremost, through their various combinations they write really well and they’ve also been phenomenal mentors to me on a personal level. I’m amazed by how much quality work they produce while at the same time giving so much to the Indie community.
Who is your favorite traditionally published author?
So hard to pick just one but if you’re twisting my arm, I guess I’d go with Dennis Lehane right now. I’m amazed more people don’t know his name. Put it this way, have you heard of the films Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Drop and the recently released Live By Night? Did you know they were all based on books written by one author? That’s Dennis Lehane!
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
Chocolate would taste like celery, celery would taste like chocolate.
About the Book
The Day That Never Comes
Published 23 January 2017
Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.
Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.
Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?
When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?
The Day That Never Comes is the second About the Bookbook in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.
OK, so I hardly ever do this in public, but this time I’m making an exception. The Day That Never Comes convinced me on all fronts. back in the time I used to love crime stories. However,after a while I found them boring. I mean, there are only very few motives to work with (love-problems, money/greed, power, or a combination thereof) and it’s really hard to write something that twists these elements into something I haven’t read before. But Bunny McGarry’s (whom I fell for in the previous book, A Man With One of Those Faces, currently available for 99ct on Amazon) disappearance caught me off guard.
I loved the way Caimh managed to make the Irish and their capital come alive with very few words. He mostly focuses on his extremely interesting characters. Although I did see one plot twist coming from a mile off, it was still fascinating enough to watch the characters involved struggling through revelation. Also, the rest of the book kept me guessing. I had all the necessary clues, but the resolution of the murderer still took me by surprise which I loved. Really, if you like crime novels, give this a try. It’s well worth it.
If you want to learn more about Caimh or his books, you can visit his website. Also he’ll be on these blogs in the next few days (you’ll have to search for the blog names since I’m extremely pressed for time. I need to hand in another 6000 word short story by tomorrow and I’m only 2000 words in, plus my first ever grandson keeps distracting me 😀 ):