Tag Archives: word

My Watchmaker’s Time by Joe Clarke

Watchmakers Time A5 CoverHR

Joe Clarke’s first novel, Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies, was almost 6 years in the making having undergone a series of rewrites in the process. His latest publication, My Watchmaker’s Time, followed along in a similar vein although taking a year or so less to complete. This week I had a quick chat with Joe about his new novel from Selfpublishbooks.ie.

“Once finished I had no real ambition to publish either works but subsequently gave in to family promptings,” Joe said, “I felt, at the time, that something as beautiful as the written word, especially in book form, was a fitting legacy and I am very proud of what I have achieved thus far.”

Following on and prior to his early retirement Joe also dabbled with poetry, writing scores of poems along the way.
“I love the simplicity of telling complexed stories in just a few rhyming verses,” Joe admits, “Occasionally I target the humour of topically funny stories via my email inbox or headline banners and make them real. I believe that poetry is as complicated or as simple as the writer cares to make it. I have written poems about life, death, love and hate with more than a sprinkling of adventure thrown in. When I eventually reach the milestone of having written 250 poems I will then seriously consider publishing them in their entirety. Prose versus Poetry is such a tight call for me simply because both play such a huge part in my life. I’d say the one starting with the letter ‘P’ wins hands down.”

 

What was it in this second novel that kept him engaged? “I really enjoyed writing My Watchmaker’s Time as it gave me the opportunity to think outside the box, steering away from the conventional,” he maintains, “The novel is made up of a series of short stories spanning centuries. It revolves around the life of Bryan Barnett, a pretty regular type of guy, who must seek his redemption through a series of tasks set up by a Higher Power. My favourite chapter tells the tale of Abe and Lucy, a pair of young ambitious hopefuls, during the great ‘Californian Gold Rush’ of 1849. Their original naivety in searching for gold saw them swiftly change direction when they accidentally struck rich. Setting up a series of hardware stores throughout the States brought more wealth than they at first had imagined. It’s a gripping story of rags to riches that more than just pulls at the heart strings. Really one to enjoy!”

 

How does My Watchmaker’s Time compare to Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies? Joe pauses on this. “To stand back and compare both books is very difficult to do, given their diversity. Aesthetically, both compare equally well although I will always have a special fondness for my first book, which is understandable, I suppose. I would like to once again thank Selfpublishbooks.ie for making my words come to life in the form of an exquisite book. Special thanks go to Shelley O’Reilly for the fantastic work done in producing such a stunning cover. Huge thanks also to my wife Terry for her support throughout. Without all of your help it would be but just a dream.”

 

So what’s next for Joe? “I am currently working on my third novel, The Case of the Missing Letter, a detective story with many twists and turns. It’s shaping very good at the moment but is still someway from completion. When inspiration isn’t there, you know, it just isn’t there and right now I am in that place, time for golf? I have no doubt that a few weeks away from the computer and on the golf course will do the trick, yet again. Funny old game this writing!”
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Exclusive story from Neil Gaiman in the Guardian

The Thames is a filthy beast: it winds through London like a snake, or a sea serpent. All the rivers flow into it, the Fleet and the Tyburn and the Neckinger, carrying all the filth and scum and waste, the bodies of cats and dogs and the bones of sheep and pigs down into the brown water of the Thames, which carries them east into the estuary and from there into the North Sea and oblivion.

It is raining in London. The rain washes the dirt into the gutters, and it swells streams into rivers, rivers into powerful things. The rain is a noisy thing, splashing and pattering and rattling the rooftops. If it is clean water as it falls from the skies it only needs to touch London to become dirt, to stir dust and make it mud.

Nobody drinks it, neither the rain water nor the river water. They make jokes about Thames water killing you instantly, and it is not true. There are mudlarks who will dive deep for thrown pennies then come up again, spout the river water, shiver and hold up their coins. They do not die, of course, or not of that, although there are no mudlarks over fifteen years of age.

The woman does not appear to care about the rain.

She walks the Rotherhithe docks, as she has done for years, for decades: nobody knows how many years, because nobody cares. She walks the docks, or she stares out to sea. She examines the ships, as they bob at anchor. She must do something, to keep body and soul from dissolving their partnership, but none of the folk of the dock have the foggiest idea what this could be.

You take refuge from the deluge beneath a canvas awning put up by a sailmaker. You believe yourself to be alone under there, at first, for she is statue-still and staring out across the water, even though there is nothing to be seen through the curtain of rain. The far side of the Thames has vanished.

And then she sees you. She sees you and she begins to talk, not to you, oh no, but to the grey water that falls from the grey sky into the grey river. She says, “My son wanted to be a sailor,” and you do not know what to reply, or how to reply. You would have to shout to make yourself heard over the roar of the rain, but she talks, and you listen. You discover yourself craning and straining to catch her words.

“My son wanted to be a sailor.

“I told him not to go to sea. I’m your mother, I said. The sea won’t love you like I love you, she’s cruel. But he said, Oh Mother, I need to see the world. I need to see the sun rise in the tropics, and watch the Northern Lights dance in the Arctic sky, and most of all I need to make my fortune and then, when it’s made I will come back to you, and build you a house, and you will have servants, and we will dance, mother, oh how we will dance…

“And what would I do in a fancy house? I told him. You’re a fool with your fine talk. I told him of his father, who never came back from the sea – some said he was dead and lost overboard, while some swore blind they’d seen him running a whore-house in Amsterdam.

“It’s all the same. The sea took him.

“When he was twelve years old, my boy ran away, down to the docks, and he shipped on the first ship he found, to Flores in the Azores, they told me.

“There’s ships of ill-omen. Bad ships. They give them a lick of paint after each disaster, and a new name, to fool the unwary.

“Sailors are superstitious. The word gets around. This ship was run aground by its captain, on orders of the owners, to defraud the insurers; and then, all mended and as good as new, it gets taken by pirates; and then it takes shipment of blankets and becomes a plague ship crewed by the dead, and only three men bring it into port in Harwich…

“My son had shipped on a stormcrow ship. It was on the homeward leg of the journey, with him bringing me his wages – for he was too young to have spent them on women and on grog, like his father – that the storm hit.

“He was the smallest one in the lifeboat.

“They said they drew lots fairly, but I do not believe it. He was smaller than them. After eight days adrift in the boat, they were so hungry. And if they did draw lots, they cheated.

“They gnawed his bones clean, one by one, and they gave them to his new mother, the sea. She shed no tears and took them without a word. She’s cruel.

“Some nights I wish he had not told me the truth. He could have lied.

“They gave my boy’s bones to the sea, but the ship’s mate – who had known my husband, and known me too, better than my husband thought he did, if truth were told – he kept a bone, as a keepsake.

“When they got back to land, all of them swearing my boy was lost in the storm that sank the ship, he came in the night, and he told me the truth of it, and he gave me the bone, for the love there had once been between us.

“I said, you’ve done a bad thing, Jack. That was your son that you’ve eaten.

“The sea took him too, that night. He walked into her, with his pockets filled with stones, and he kept walking. He’d never learned to swim.

“And I put the bone on a chain to remember them both by, late at night, when the wind crashes the ocean waves and tumbles them on to the sand, when the wind howls around the houses like a baby crying.”

The rain is easing, and you think she is done, but now, for the first time, she looks at you, and appears to be about to say something. She has pulled something from around her neck, and now she is reaching it out to you.

“Here,” she says. Her eyes, when they meet yours, are as brown as the Thames. “Would you like to touch it?”

You want to pull it from her neck, to toss it into the river for the mudlarks to find or to lose. But instead you stumble out from under the canvas awning, and the water of the rain runs down your face like someone else’s tears.

 

 

• Supported by the national lottery through Arts Council England

Reprinted in full from The Guardian

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Irish Poetry with Sean O’Muimhneachan

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Sean O’Muimheachan, a primary teacher in Macroom, printed with Selfpublishbooks.ie a casebound book of his poetry. I had a quick chat with Sean and asked him where it all began.

“I was born and reared in a rural Gaeltacht area, Gaeltacht Mhúscraí,” said Sean, “and received my primary and secondary education in that area; I’ve
spent all my working life there. Very boring you might say! Not at all.
This is an area of natural beauty, steeped in history and culture and with
plenty of sporting and cultural activity throughout the year. We are within
easy reach of bus and train services and within an hour’s journey of two
international airports. But those things never bothered me growing up in
this area as there was always plenty to do.”

Sean was happy to relate how he first became interested in writing: “This locality has long been famous for its writers, poets and singers and
it was only natural that I would become acquainted with their work as I
grew up. Songs and poems were composed about many local happenings,
these being mostly humorous songs, but many more serious poets were
also at work, producing works that were to earn for them national fame.

“Seán Ó Ríordáin and Séamas Ó Céileachair are two who immediately
come to mind. Then there were the writers like An tÁth, Peadar Ó
Laoghaire and Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, who preserved the richness of
the local dialect in their writings. Perhaps it was only natural that I would
begin to dabble in such pursuits as I grew to understand the importance of
such things in our society.”

How does work fit into all this? “Being a Primary Teacher, I often composed poems to fit in with topics in
the curriculum when suitable poems were not available or for use in stage
shows or drama competitions. Dámhscoil Mhúscraí provided the impetus
to practise my poetry skills and I have for many years participated in
this annual poetry session.

“I’ve been a regular attendant at Oireachtas na
Gaeilge and Fleadhanna Ceoil also, both of which hold competitions for
newly composed songs. This provided the incentive to write and compete,
which I have done for many years with limited success. Having heard
suggestions from many that I should publish some of my works, I decided
the time was right when I retired from teaching and so Gleanntán an
Aoibhnis began to take shape.”

I was curious to know what a reader can expect from Sean’s book. “The reader will find that the songs are predominantly humorous songs
and I must admit to enjoying writing such songs,” he admits with a smile, “When a good line comes
together it gives me a giggle of satisfaction and I hope it also brings a
smile to the face of the reader.

“Having said this, I am well aware that a
serious song or poem is usually of a far better quality than a frivolous
one. I have also written a few of those, both in Irish and in English. It’s
easy to draw a laugh but the song that draws a tear strikes closer to the
heart.”

So once he put all the words together, it was only a matter of finding where to put them between a book cover. Sean has already given a wonderful testimonial, but I was curious as to how he found self-publishing: “This was my first experience of publishing and, having approached Bard
na nGleann in Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, I was put in touch with Lettertec
in Carrigtwohill. I was facing the unknown.

“However, I was given every
assistance and advice and Elaine Barry, who was in charge of design, was
most efficient, helpful and patient. Anything that needed to be changed or
corrected was attended to without fuss and her advice on layout, font, etc.,
was invaluable. The finished product more than I could have wished for,
a most professional package, and deadlines were met promptly.”

What’s in store for Mr O’Muimhneachan now? “At the moment I don’t have any other plans for publishing,” he says, “but who
knows what the future may hold!”

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Week Round-Up

A lot has been happening in the literary world this week, so here’s a Top 10 Hot Spot list of all the latest news & views.

cassettetape

# 10

Most overlooked books of 2012 – a literary mixtape 

# 9

Jamie Oliver and JK Rowling battle it out for Christmas top spot

# 8

Overwhelming response to Foyle’s revamp plans

# 7

The Casual Vacancy as BBC show 

# 6

Self-publishing case studies

# 5

Angela Carter named best writer of a century

# 4

What writers can learn from Literary Death Match

# 3

Mo Yan delivers Nobel Prize Speech (with some controversial notes on censorship)

# 2

NaNoWriMo churned out 3 billion words this year

# 1

Book-scanning robot coming to a library near you?

 

~Bonus~

Book Christmas Trees 

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A Certain Time, A Certain Place

Selfpublishbooks.ie are reprinting Katherine O’Riordan’s memoir, A Certain Time, A Certain Place and luckily I got to catch up with the author herself.

Katherine O’Riordan was born in Macroom town where she lived for twenty-one years until she married and moved to Cork. I asked her where the writing began. She said, “Those years I spent growing up left such a lasting impression on me that I was forever writing down memories as they came, in the hope that one day my children and grandchildren would get a glimpse of everyday life.

“This book is a opportunity for them to find what their grand and great grand parents were all about, and how life was lived and fun was had with neighbours and friends in those much simpler times.”

With her collection of short stories, she then decided to make a book of them and so A Certain Time, A Certain Place came into being.

Who should we count among the influences behind this decision? Katherine was happy to tell me. “Catherine Cookson, Edna O’Brien, Phillipa Gregory, Clare Boylan and Ella Wheller Wilcox, without a doubt.”

Having a father and uncles who worked as house-painters, it was no surprise that Katherine also took up painting as a hobby and has made hundreds of art works, which have found homes all over Ireland and further afield.

In A Certain Time, A Certain Place, Katherine has captured a part of Ireland that will evoke memories in anyone who enjoyed swims in Sullane, trips to the Palace Cinema or days at the visiting fairs, and transport anyone who is unfamiliar with those memories right back to Macroom in the ’40s and ’50s. It is easy to see the influence of painting and music on Katherine’s prose and she vividly describes a very specific part of Ireland’s history.

I asked Katherine what is next. “I would love to produce a book of poetry and illustrate it myself, so it looks like busy days ahead!”

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A Modern Irish Cook Book

Selfpublishbooks.ie have published Goodall’s latest compilation of Irish cooking by (and for) Irish cooks.

As outlined on Goodall’s website,  this book contains a great variety of recipes — from light bites such as Spiced Beef Blinis to heartier meals like Tagliatelle & Smoked Trout — not to mention delicious desserts like Trifle Cake. The recipes are chosen by the Goodall’s team from a selection submitted by Ireland’s Food Blogging Community, about whom you will find out more in the book.

I spoke to editor, contributor and foodie blogger, Margaret Smith, about the book. I asked her first where the idea came from. “It came out of a conversation I was having with Roisin, the marketing manager for Goodall’s, on how would you describe modern Irish food or cuisine to someone from outside of Ireland?”

What did they come up with? “We had a healthy debate,” Margaret says, “and from that sprung the idea that maybe we should include other people in the conversation.  We decided to put it out to the food bloggers of Ireland to see what their take on it would be.  We also thought it would be a lovely idea to capture these recipes and some lovely photos and put it into a book.  We thought of it as being a snapshot of what people are cooking in their homes all over Ireland.”

Judging by the product, they certainly achieved their ends! Margaret was delighted to contribute two of her own recipes to the book: “My own fail safe way of cooking a roast chicken with lemon, herbs and white wine and a canapé dish of blinis with spiced beef and a horseradish cream.” Delicious!

Margaret is a regular food blogger and cooking class leader herself — just take a look at her website: Umnumnum is an apt name!

She’s been a regular aficionado of the kitchen since she was in her twenties: “I have to say I became a little obsessed with it.  I love to eat and entertain and experiment and have been happy do that for twenty years or more  now.”

I ask Margaret what meal she enjoys cooking the most: “My favourite meal to cook changes quite often as I like to try new things.  At the moment a Thai green chicken curry is top of the list for flavour and it’s so easy and can be put together in 15 mins.  A beef stew is my ultimate comfort food though for days when I feel I have been put through the mill!”

What caught her interest in self-publishing? “We wanted to self-publish the book as a way to control the content and we also wanted to do it in a very tight time frame. The finished product was great and I think everyone was very proud of the book.”

The other positive about this new publication is that all profits from it go to Cork Penny Dinners and Dublin Food Bank. Please donate here or here if you can.

So what’s next for Margaret & Goodall’s? Her answer is tempting. “There are a few more exciting projects in the pipeline for Goodall’s but they are a bit hush hush at the moment so watch this space!!”


 (Click here for a brief preview inside the book!)

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Emma Thompson & Peter Rabbit


E
mma Thompson’s The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit was published on 6th September, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. It is the first time that Frederick Warne has published an additional title to Beatrix Potter’s original series.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Thompson and Taylor preserve the delicious dry wit of Potter’s original tales—this is top-notch read-aloud fare that both children and their parents will enjoy. Here’s to having Peter hop into trouble for another hundred years. The book also includes an audio recording of the tale, read by the author.

Thompson was first asked to pen a sequel to Beatrix Potter’s books by Frederick Warne himself when a cardboard box arrived at her front door with a half-eaten radish leaf inside next to a letter from ‘Peter Rabbit’ asking that she write him into another story.

Known to possess a dry sense of humor, as was Potter, Thompson is a longtime devotee of Peter and his pals: “I’ve always loved Beatrix Potter, as a child and then as a mother and all the years in-between as well,” she said in a statement. “When Mr. Rabbit invited me to write a further tale, I was more honored than I can say. I hope I don’t let him or his extraordinary creator down.”

Luckily for us, the Bookseller announced yesterday that Thompson is set to write two further sequels: The second title will be set in the Lake District and will follow Peter’s “comical little cousin” Benjamin Bunny plus a new character called William. It is lined up for Christmas 2013. The third title will be published in 2014.

Francesca Dow, Penguin Children’s M.D., said, “The recent launch of the 24th tale The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit has been amazingly well-received all over the world and I can’t tell you how excited we are that Emma is writing two more tales. Emma’s writing is completely fresh and original and yet she also captures perfectly the spirit of Potter’s own unique style . . .What with Peter celebrating his 110th birthday this year, the forthcoming launch of the new Peter Rabbit animation series and now two new tales from Emma it’s certainly an exciting time for everybody’s favourite rabbit.”

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