Fiction writer GARBHAN DOWNEY offers some belated advice to the First Family
If Peter and Iris Robinson have indeed been reading my novels, I must strongly appeal to them to stop immediately.
I watched Thursday night’s Spotlight programme with all the unfolding horror of a puppet-master whose charges have sprung to life and are racing towards a very messy finale.
So I am pleading with them now, NOT to buy my new book, out next month, as it could damage their lives irreversibly.
Let me explain.
Since 2004, I have published five black comedies set in the world of Irish politics, and the Robinsons, it seems, have now adopted all of them as life-coaching manuals.
Let’s start with Running Mates (2007), which centres on a crooked race for the Irish presidency. In it, the right-wing candidate is a lifelong advocate of family values to such an extent that he employs a perfectly lovely psychiatrist whose speciality is “curing” homosexuals.
My fictional doctor’s techniques include giving his “patients” copies of Readers’ Wives and instructing them to pretend they are “married” to some of the prettier ladies. I don’t know what methods Iris’s friend used...
Okay, this first hit could be a coincidence, I’ll grant you. But let’s go back a bit. In Off Broadway (2005), a Northern political leader is cuckolded by his glamorous wife. In my book, however, the hero is forced to forgive his wife as she knows where his bodies are buried - in his case literally. But luckily for Harry the Hurler, the media are too afraid of him to publish a word – and even collude in a cover-up.
Again, I accept, this could be a fluke. But by 2008, strange things are starting to happen, and my characters really seem to be morphing out of the pages. Yours Confidentially: Letters of a would-be MP tells the story of a planning scam, and at one stage we have a sitting
Then last year, in the novel War of the Blue Roses, I invented a totally improbable tryst between a teenager and a sixty-something hillbilly politician. It was so far off the scale, I nearly removed it from the book as I wasn’t sure readers would believe it.
But on Thursday night, up pops young Kirk and nearly blows my socks off. And people say life never imitates art.
There is some hope, however. During the Great Not Speaking Crisis of 2004, I produced Private Diary of a Suspended MLA, which predicted an eventual partnership between the DUP and Sinn Fein. So, I now feel fully entitled to claim the credit for Peter’s thawing towards Martin.
There is, however, always a moral balance to my books. Comedy by its very nature is concerned with righting wrongs and the judicial application of poetic justice. And I personally subscribe to Carl Hiaasen’s dictum that the nastier the villain, the more horrible his or her demise must be.
In my next book, for example, The American Envoy, the femme fatale, a real sun bunny winds up posted to
But that’s too much already. I’m giving the script away again.
The Robinsons really would need to stop reading now.
The American Envoy will be published by Guildhall Press in February 2010 and launched at the Dublin Book Festival.
Article appears on CSNI courtesy of the Irish News.