I’m delighted to welcome back Caimh McDonnell to Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate his latest book The Day That Never Comes. Caimh was previously kind enough to write a guest post on improbable tropes that you can read here. Today I’m lucky to be hosting an interview with Caimh.
The Day That Never Comes is the second in Caimh’s Dublin trilogy after A Man With One Of Those Faces. The Day That Never Comes was published by Mc Fori Ink on 23rd January 2017and is available in e-book and paperback from your local Amazon site.
The Day That Never Comes
Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.
Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.
Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?
When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?
The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.
An Interview with Caimh McDonnell
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Caimh. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
That’s trickier than it sounds! I’m about to have to go through my annual ordeal of explaining what I do for a living to the taxman so here is the overview. I’m a comedian/novelist/TV writer/Professional rugby fan. I know that last bit definitely doesn’t sound like a job, but I’m lucky enough that the team I support, London Irish, give me a microphone and a stadium PA to work with. I’m also technically a producer on a potential TV panel show. I don’t have a job so much as career ADHD.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Day That Never Comes?
The germ of the idea came about from a conversation with mates in Dublin over a few pints. I just hit on the idea that when you think about, with all the wholesale damage that the Irish economy has taken through some very irresponsible actions by a few individuals, isn’t it surprising that nobody has ever tried to directly get their own back. I guess if my first book, A Man With One of Those Faces was about identity, this one is very much about anger. There’s a lot more going on than that of course, including some fun with an unhinged German Shepherd, but that is the overall theme.
How important is it to you to be seen as an Irish writer?
I’m in an unusual position because I’m writing about my home town of Dublin while living in Manchester. In a way, it has been really great for me. I feel like I’ve reconnected with my roots in an odd way. Certainly, I think I miss living in Ireland more now than I’ve ever done, which I guess is because it now features so prominently in my thoughts. It is also lovely though as I’ve re-engaged with the place in a way I think is quite unique. When you’re actively seeking things out, you fully appreciate how wonderful a place it is. At the same time, being removed from being there day-to-day, allows you to see it with fresh eyes than you wouldn’t have if you were constantly surrounded by it.
(I think we seldom really appreciate what’s closest to us.)
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
It took an awful lot of effort but I eventually found an Irish Guard (police officer) via a friend of a friend of a friend who was willing to answer some questions. He has been wonderfully patient, as I’ve hurled some ludicrous queries at him. I also went to a gun range in Miami on my honeymoon as if was going to write a gun in a scene, I reckoned I should have probably fired one. My wife is a very understanding woman.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I think the easiest part in a way is the funny bit. I’m increasingly learning to just worry about where the story is going and the ‘funny’ just sort of happens as I’ve been doing it for so long and in so many different forms, that it’ll just sneak in when appropriate.
Most difficult? Describing architecture and interior design stuff. My wife gets a lot of calls like “What do you call them nobbly bits that hold up the thingies in old buildings?”
(I imagine your wife to be a very patient woman!)
You’re known for comedy through your work as a stand up comedian and a writer for various television programmes. How do you balance reader expectations for humour with fast paced action in The Day That Never Comes?
I think, if you balance right the two things can work really well together. As anyone who has read my work will know, I’m a massive fan of crime fiction, but I do find some of it can be a little unrelentingly grim. I think the humour if done right, can make the reader more invested in the characters and that heightens the tension when the dark stuff does happen. I will say, I’ve had very little of crime fans saying there was too much comedy but occasionally, there has been the odd comedy fan shocked by a couple of the violent scenes. Spoiler alert: if anything, there’s more of that in this one. I’m afraid I do rather put my central characters through the mill.
Since you wrote The Day That Never Comes there have been some strange coincidences to your plot where homeless people occupied a government building in Dublin. How does that make you feel?
It is really weird. Having almost word for word something that you made up happen in real life is a little bit creepy. I stood outside Apollo House, the real building where it had happened and it was a very odd moment. My biggest concern was I was horrified that someone might think that in some way, I was aping reality – which is why I put an explanatory note into the back of the book.
Your three protagonists, Paul, Brigit and Bunny were first introduced to readers in A Man With One Of Those Faces. How have you developed their characters and what can we expect from them in the future?
Without giving much away, Paul and Brigit hit not so much a stumbling block in their relationship, as a ten tonne truck heading the opposite way at high speed. They are both in a bad place, whereas Bunny is no place – he has seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet.
I think the biggest single development from writing books one and two is that DS Bunny McGarry’s backstory has just bloomed and bloomed in my mind. It is very real to me now. There’s so much I’d love to explore. This book just gives the tiniest hint of some of the things that are lying back there. He started life as a primarily comedic character but now, while I’m keen to retain that, there is a wealth of material there that I think will gradually come out over several books.
When you were last on Linda’s Book Bag you wrote about improbable tropes in crime fiction (here). What other bugbears do you have when reading crime fiction and how easy is it to avoid them in your own writing?
I suppose this really harps back to what I said earlier, but sometimes it does feel like a race to find most awful scenario imaginable. Put it this way – I loved the TV show The Shield. Well written, superbly acted. Still, I can remember winding up my ex-flatmate who was a big fan at the time with my map of an episode. Step 1: Awful thing happens. Step 2: Even worse thing happens. Step 3: Further fact revealed that shows that thing the awful thing that happened in Step 1 is actually way worse than initially feared. Step 4: Third thing happens, that looks like it might be nice. Step 5: The nice thing gets smashed to bits by the even worse thing from Step 2. Step 6: Both things get resolved but in a way that nobody is happy and that will undoubtedly leave to a yet worse thing happening in future. And repeat.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
I got surprisingly far in the world of IT by being fairly good at lying. I think my creative outlet was making up excuses for why stuff wasn’t working.
If you could choose to be a character from The Day That Never Comes , who would you be and why?
Brigit – of all the people in it, she is the one who actually has some cop-on!
If The Day That Never Comes became a film, who would you like to play the central characters and why would you choose them?
Brigit – Amy Huberman is a brilliant comedic actress and I’m surprised she isn’t a bigger star. She would be perfect.
Paul – I’m not really sure. Cillian Murphy would be perfect but he’s probably a bit too old for the character now.
Bunny McGarry – the character honestly wasn’t written with him specifically in mind, but I’ve had some keen readers try to start a petition to get Brendan Gleeson to do it. Several reviews mention it, so much so, it is getting a bit embarrassing!
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Day That Never Comes should be their next read, what would you say?
It is better than sex. At least, it is better than sex with me!
(See my earlier comment about your wife!)
Thank you so much, Caimh, for your time in answering my questions.
About Caimh McDonnell
Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats.
His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.
During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).
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