Friday 7 November 2008

BIG BIG Borderlands

I attended the Big Big Reading Group discussion at Lisburn City Library last night. The subject was Borderlands by Brian McGilloway, and the debonair Mister McGilloway was there in person to give us an insight into his debut novel. Not many people attended, which quite surprised me, but on the bright side, it made for a more intimate evening and meant that no question went unanswered. And boy, when a question was asked did McGilloway give his audience value for money? Aye, he did. (The night was free actually, if you want to get technical. But then, to be even more technical, time = money, and we spent a good hour and a half listening to him.)

He spoke at length of the reasons behind his choice to write crime fiction. It seems David Torrans of No Alibis has a lot to answer for. He was the man who recommended Ian Rankin and Colin Dexter to a young bright-eyed McGilloway, fresh out of Queen’s University with a head full of literary tomes and looking for something a little lighter. He soon realised that crime fiction did not necessarily mean a lighter, easier read, but by then he was hooked on the genre.

Six years ago, McGilloway’s wife was expecting their first child. Big, big life-changing stuff. And at that time all his favourite crime fiction characters seemed to be on their way out. Morse was dead, Rankin close to retirement, James Lee Burke’s Robicheaux was coming to terms with his mortality, and so were his fans. Did McGilloway cry himself to sleep? Well, maybe once, but then he got up, dried his eyes and decided he didn’t need Dexter, Rankin or Burke. He’d write his own character! And so, Inspector Benedict Devlin was born.

This we found out in the first ten minutes of the discussion. We also learned of how McGilloway decided Devlin should be a family man first and a cop second, unlike the work-obsessed crime fiction protagonists that came before him. How Devlin did the things that McGilloway no longer could, like smoking or walking a Basset Hound. But also, Devlin shared a lot of McGilloway’s concerns for the society he was bringing his family up in.

And we learned so much more, but at this stage, I’d abandoned the notebook and concentrated on listening to the man.

The evening was capped with a glass of wine and a sneak preview reading from the latest McGilloway novel, Bleed a River Deep. And those guys at the Lisburn City Library know how to make you feel at home. Lovely place, by the way. It was my first time there, and I was very impressed. And you know, I had a pretty wild youth, saw a lot of libraries, so I know what I’m talking about!

Also, I had the pleasure of grabbing a few minute’s of Mister McGilloway’s time. We had a good aul natter about writing and the not-so-easy task of fitting it into a hectic family life. A real gentleman. I look forward to meeting him again.


Anonymous said...

And you know, I had a pretty wild youth, saw a lot of libraries, so I know what I’m talking about!

Those NI writers/bloggers and all the anecdotes on their wild youth.
You're probably pulling my leg.

Doesn't McGilloway look a bit too cute to be a crime writer?

Gerard Brennan said...

Marco - Okay, so I saw some libraries. More than six, at least.

RE McGilloway's cuteness, yeah you're probably right, but that's what these guys like to do. Lull you into a false sense of security with their non-ugliness and friendly manner, then POW! CRIME!!!! It's the cute ones you gotta watch the closest.


Brian McGilloway said...

It was great to meet you too Gerard. Thanks for singlehandedly making up a quarter of the audience. It was good to get a chance to chat.

Marco - I've been called many things, but never cute!

Logan Lamech said...

I think it's a common misconception that cute and literary are mutually exclusive. LOL.

Logan Lamech

adrian mckinty said...


You've never called me cute. Consider me insulted.


Woulda been there, but I already told you about my biscuit commitments. I'm sure you kicked ass/arse/.

Gerard Brennan said...

Brian - T'was a pleasure. And I think you've added those ladies to your fan base. You aul charmer.

Logan - Maybe Brian is the exception that proves the rule?

Adrian - You could probably lodge a grievance with the Italian consulate.


Brian McGilloway said...

No hassle Adrian. Custard creams come first. If it makes you feel any better, I know someone who thinks you're cute. Jeez, some people are so insecure.

Thanks Ger - and lovely ladies they were too. Crime readers are even nicer than crime writers...

Peter Rozovsky said...

The numerous folks who did not attend the discussion have much to answer for, the gobshites.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Gerard Brennan said...

Peter - You're right there. And may I commend you for playing so fast and loose with the word gobshite? You've taken to it with such gusto!



Peter Rozovsky said...

"Peter - You're right there. And may I commend you for playing so fast and loose with the word gobshite? You've taken to it with such gusto!"

Thanks. This one was more appropriate than some of my uses of the word.

Gerard Brennan said...

Peter - Learn by doing. Trial and error's my favourite way to learn. It always lends well to comedy moments.


Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for your inspirational message. Every day, in every way, I am learning to use "gobshite" better and better.

Anonymous said...

Peter,did you consider subscribing to Gobshite Quarterly ?

Gerard Brennan said...

Peter - Love it.

Marco - You are the master of linkage.

How have I not stumbled upon this site on my many internet travels?