MEET BRENDAN GERAD O’BRIEN

OK, OK, I admit it I have a soft spot for Irish writers, the land of my birth, though I have long since lost the accent.  While we may speak the same language as the English, Welsh, Scots, Americans and the Australians, I maintain we have poetry and words flowing through our veins. Have you guessed that this week’s guest is also from Ireland? What a surprise!  Welcome, Brendan Gerad O’Brien. He now lives in Wales, but you can never take the power of words away from the Irish – not that I’m biased of course. Over to Brendan.

Brend

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. My uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Listowel – a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell so just listen to them. I was there when John B’s first story was read out on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement.

But it was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to write a book.

DarkSeptemberbyBGOBrien200

The result was Dark Septembera brutal alternative history thriller set in Newport during WW2. Germany invade Britain. Stormtroopers attack the South Wales coast to capture the coal mines. Newport is blitzed. Danny O’Shea’s wife is killed. O’Shea heads for neutral Ireland with his son and they witness Welsh Nationalists ambushing a German convoy carrying a mysterious cargo.

But the Nationalists fall out and the cargo disappears. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman – and both the Germans and the Nationalists believe she told him where it’s hidden. Now pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to get his son to safety.

I always found writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. Great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.

For instance, the Irish are famous for their colourful and exaggerated language, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I set my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit.

dreamin deams promo 2.5 x 4

Dreamin’ Dreams contains twenty of my published short stories. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.

The title comes from something my father said years ago when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’

Gallows Field paperback new

This was followed by Gallows Field, set in Tralee, Ireland during WW2.  Eamon Foley, a Local Security volunteer is in a crowded pub when his brother-in-law Joe McCarthy is shot dead. Foley thinks he sees a face from his past when he was working in Dublin and witnessed a brutal murder. Important items went missing then and the killer believed Foley took them. Foley thinks shooting Joe was a warning that they’ve caught up with him and are looking for their stuff.

But Garda Sergeant Liam Edge believes Joe was a victim of a jealous husband because of his involvement with numerous women.

Then Foley’s sister Mary is found dead in the town park.

And his son is taken by a nun in a car.

When Foley illegally obtains evidence saying who is responsible, Sgt Edge dismisses it, insisting they follow proper police procedure.  With dreadful results.

a pale moon print cover final

My latest book is A Pale Moon Was Rising, again featuring Eamon Foley during 1944. A German submarine is spotted in Tralee Bay on the West coast of Ireland.

Next morning the body of a young man with fatal head injuries is found in the river. He’s wearing a distinctive silver ring.

Garda Eamon Foley traces the ring to Paudy Daly, who’s been missing for over nine months.

But Paudy’s father, the notorious Mixer Daly, is furious when he sees the body. Because it is not his son.

Garda Foley discovers that the body is that of a Polish seaman. So where did he get Paudy’s ring?

Then Garda Foley learns that the last time Paudy was seen alive, he was on his way to rob a pig-breeder’s house.

Writing magazine

Thanks for choosing me for your blog, and have a great week,

Sláinte

Brendan

bgobrien.net

I had no idea that Brendan was such a prolific writer, as the books featured here are only a part of his vast repertoire. Check him out on his Amazon author  page

https://www.amazon.com/Brendan-Gerad-OBrien/e/B006ICG2HE 

and thank you for being my guest this week.

Advertisements

MEET JOHN SEARANCKE

This week’s guest is also a member of the Facebook Group We Love Memoirs, so his name is familiar, although I’ve had to check several times to make sure I have spelled it correctly!  Over to John.

John

Hi everyone! Firstly, let me thank Lucinda for inviting me on to her platform. My name is John Searancke and my wife Sally and I live partly in the Canary Islands and partly at a new home that we have just bought in one of the Five Villages, near to Chichester, West Sussex. We moved in during August this year and spent the first couple of months living in overly close proximity to a mound of packing cases. Writing has been temporarily on hold!

I started out in life in the Leicestershire market town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. I was sent off to Prep School at Seaford in Sussex, and then on to Rugby School. After a number of short-term jobs, I settled into the running of a small loss-making country hotel that my parents had somewhat foolishly purchased. My parents’ marriage fell apart and I was left to pick up the pieces. I built the hotel up to become a well-known business over a 35 year career.  A second marriage then took me to Lancashire and then, in retirement, to the Canary Islands, where we live in the lee of Mount Teide, the famous volcano that we can see from our terrace.

El Teide

Lack of gainful employment (other than as restaurant reviewer for a Canary Islands newspaper) as I approached my 70th year impelled me to think about writing a book. Most people reckon that they have a book in them, don’t they? But how many take the plunge and actually do it? I cast around for ideas and came up with the storyline of making the move, lock, stock, and barrel, from the north of England to the balmy climes of the Canary Islands.

Car of the Month1

What could be more (we thought!) exciting than to drive our 27 year old red Mercedes all the way from England to our new home in the sun? How many times would a 27 year old car break down, and us without a word of Spanish? Would the car even make it?

I soon filled up a manuscript of strange goings-on and many tales of doggy derring-do as our Staffie, Freddie, an RSPCA rescue dog, settled in amongst new friends. Sadly, some years later as I write this, Freddie is no longer with us, but he lives on forever in our hearts and I remember him as my inspiration to get into print.

Dog Days Front Cover jpg

Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands” was the result of my efforts. The title is a bit of a play on words, Dog Days relating to old sailing ships becoming becalmed and the latter part being the old name for the island archipelago that was to become home.

My wife came up with the title of my second book, “Prunes for Breakfast”, which is most apposite. I still had the writing bug and, reading through a cache of family letters left to me, detailing family life through WW2, I thought that I could pay belated tribute to my father who had played his part to the full during those heady years from 1939 to 1945, including his landing in Normandy and his later incarceration in a German POW camp.

Prunes Front Cover jpg

My father and I had not got on as I grew up, so it was a cathartic experience to be able to tell his story.

A huge amount of research went into the production of that book, and it has latterly been issued in audio-book format. I achieved a dream when it got an Amazon #1 in its category, albeit probably only for a millisecond!

And so, to my third book…

A number of people who read “Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands” mentioned to me that I should write about my earlier life. I have difficulty grasping the fact that this could be particularly interesting to anyone. I realized that I had been self- employed for most of my life, that it was doubtful that anyone would actually have wanted to employ me and that, yes, perhaps, there were some stories to be told – some of them a little bit risqué. So, I am well over half way through this third book, at just over 50,000 words and it should be available in the spring of next year.

Here is the synopsis, the first time seen in print:

John Searancke came to the role of hotelier almost accidentally. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.

There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, the fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures, and staff who were there just for their pay packets.

Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities, but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, guests were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Guests checked in who really should not have been seen together, whilst others erroneously believed that there exists an incontrovertible law that the customer is always right.

A rescue mission originally thought of as a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building, turning a young man into a tired and grey haired hotelier; continuous improvements being made on the one hand as funds allowed, but with the stress of business dooming relationships along the way.

Then will come the part that I don’t like, because I am no good at it – the marketing and publicity. On that journey I hope, once again, to have the expertise of Sarah Jane Butfield of Rukia Publishing, to steer me along the way.

Please check my website for progress after Christmas, and leave messages for me…and in the meantime, a huge “thank you” from me to everyone who has read my books. I hope that you may like my next one even more!

John’s books sound like a fun read, and like most of us, he has dozens of addresses! You can find out lots more about him at any of these places. And thank you John for being my guest.

Website: www.johnsearancke.com
Amazon.co.uk Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands http://tinyurl.com/p6s7eku

 Amazon.co.uk Prunes for Breakfast http://tinyurl.com/ntpae84

Website: www.johnsearancke.com

Meet the Author at Rukia Publishing: http://www.rukiapublishing.com/meet-the-author-john-searancke.html
John Searancke Pinterest profile page: https://www.pinterest.com/johnsearancke/author-john-searancke/
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-dog-days-in-the-fortunate-islands/
Prunes for Breakfast Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-prunes-for-breakfast-by-john-searanc/
John Searancke Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/john.searancke.1
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dog-Days-in-The-Fortunate-Islands/867368390009475
Prunes for Breakfast Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PrunesForBreakfast
Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnsearancke
Troubador Publishing: http://www.troubador.co.uk/shop_booklist.asp?s=john%20searancke

Thank you John for sharing this with us and like you, i shall be going to sit in the sun while I take a look at your books.

 

 

 

 

MEET ALISON RIPLEY CUBBIT

When I asked Alison if she would like to be a guest on my blog, I had no idea what an amazing story she would have to share. Take a few minutes to read it, it’s fascinating. Welcome, Alison.

ARC 2017 Profile Pic

About Me:
I’m Alison Ripley Cubitt, and I’m a multi-genre author and screenwriter. I worked in film and television production before turning to writing. I’ve gone back to film, this time as part of a production team with our own company, specialising in investigative drama.

I’m here to talk about one of my books, Castles in the Air: A Family Memoir of Love and Loss, which was partly inspired by the genealogy tv series, Who Do You Think You Are. I’ve always been fascinated by true-life stories, particularly those from the 20th century, which is the era that shaped my own life. I was reflecting on what a profound effect World War 2 had on so many people’s lives. Before I started writing my book, I had never really given much thought to how the war shaped my own family’s future.

In 1937 my grandfather was turning 40 and soon to be unemployed as he had reached the end of his commission as a Royal Marine. He was invited to apply for a job with the Admiralty based in Hong Kong but was given no details of what he would be doing until the third and final round of interviews. It turned out that he would be working with the intelligence-gathering operation in what would become the Far East outpost of Bletchley Park.
BRAG Medallion Book Cover

When war finally did come to South East Asia, my mother Molly was one of the last two remaining girls at her remote boarding school up country in  Malaya. The nuns had insisted that war or no war, education came first and that they must finish their School Certificate exams. With the ink barely dry on the exam paper, the girls still in school uniform, were driven down the lonely switchback road to the nearest train station to start their long journey home to Singapore. In the surrounding jungle, the enemy was watching and waiting for the signal to invade.

Molly and her parents were evacuated in January 1942, and she spent the war years working as a stenographer in the same naval intelligence unit her parents worked in. A high-spirited teenager, she would wait until her boss went out and then pull out the secret intelligence communiqué she was typing at the time, and go and dash off a quick letter to a friend.

During the war years, Mum developed a crush on a family friend who was much older than she was. She never got him out of her system, still secretly carrying a torch for him long after she married.
The book is told in two parts: the first, a series of letters written by the 15-year-old Molly, to her crush, Steve. I wanted the reader to have an insight into what life was like for a teenager in wartime and for this to be written in Molly’s own voice. In part two I take up the story of the woman who became the nurse and mother I knew.
The letters were a revelation as they had been kept hidden for nearly 50 years. It is a miracle they survived. Steve (who never married) had kept every single one. When he died, his niece sent the letters to my grandmother, who kept them hidden away so my father wouldn’t find them.

FB Ad Castles in the Air

Giveaway:
The first three readers who read this piece to like my Facebook page will win a free ebook copy. Don’t forget to let me know how I can contact you. To buy a copy, see below.
Buying links:
Link: http://amzn.com/B018KLSVUQ
Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018KLSVUQ
Readers can connect with me here:
Website: http://www.lambertnagle.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lambertnagle
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonripleycubittwriter

Alison, it was good to meet you and I will be checking out your book. So often our parents did not talk to their children about feelings and events and many of us have discovered the truth only through the letters they left behind. It’s only after they have departed do we wish we’d asked all those questions while they were still alive. This book may well shed light for all of us whose parents fought in the last World War.