At one stage the thought did cross my mind about blagging my way onto the Crime Scene NI blog by intimating that I had strong Irish connections.
I mean I have a grandfather who was named Paddy (from Patrick) and my dad’s called Desmond. I often say “ta” in place of thanks; I was baptized a Mick, and I do like to celebrate the alcoholic excesses of St. Patrick’s Day.
But these little truths lilt a bit when you shove them under the spotlight of reality.
My grandparents were first- or second-generation Aussies (I’m still not sure which) who lived in Richmond, Melbourne. Even though I was dunked to appease the Catholic side of the family, I was brought up Anglican – which meant never going to church at all, and stumbling across the story of Adam and Eve only when I was about 10.
Although my nickname is Andrez (long story, but it involves Zorro), my real name is Andrew – the patron saint of Scotland, the origin of my mum’s side of the family.
And while Bergin is a pretty common Irish family name, we spell it with an extra added “e”, as in Bergen – which is also the name of the second biggest city in Norway and leads me to suspect that marauding Vikings floundered on the shores of the Emerald Isle a millennium ago and were forced to place their roots in County Cork.
My dad reckons that we’re descended from Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, aka Brian Boru – the high king of Ireland in the 11th century – but he also claims that a castle in that city of Bergen, in Norway, belongs to us.
So, with the Irishness squeezed out of the equation, I then thought about pushing my new novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, published in April, since it’s described as post-apocalyptic noir. The noir most certainly is its underpinning strength; it references and pays tribute to authors like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Graham Greene, as well as the whole cinematic film noir genre.
There’s crime, murder, and mystery here. Three ticks.
But then there’s the post-apocalyptic bit, which intimates the future, and therefore a sci-fi and/or dystopian bent that many admirers of hardboiled, noir and crime fiction find distasteful – like we’re adding inner city tap water to a fine blend of Irish whiskey.
So I ditched the pitches and was honest instead, and lucky for me Gerard Brennan’s proved to be an open-minded, exceptionally supportive individual who anyway gave me the keys to his kingdom (or at least a posting on his blog). Ta, mate!