B(u)y the book!

Last week I made it into a book, a legal book, a proper non-fiction book about Electoral Law in Ireland. The author Jennifer Kavanagh is a lecturer in Law in Waterford IT and has just completed a PhD in law in Trinity College Dublin. Her book, Electoral Law in Ireland, is available from Bloomsbury Professional

It is quite an expensive book as paperbacks go, costing €150, but it is possible to write the cost against tax. I was advised that by the young barrister Ruadhán Mac Aodháin who was also purchasing the book just as I arrived at the book launch. Ruadhán was part of the legal team that made it possible for me to be mentioned in the book.

In 2014 when I became the first female bankrupt under the new Insolvency laws in Ireland, I was unable to run for public office. Those of you who know my story will remember that my own personal descent into financial ruin (divorce + home repossession + business failure + bailiffs) had created an accidental activist.

I became well known for ranting and raving on the airways domestically and abroad about the injustices facing ordinary people.

I was – and remain – very anti the stranglehold the banks have on the people.

I was – and remain – very anti the spin developed by the banks to say that people who fail financially have the moral integrity of Artful Dodger and then some.

I had had enough. I was tired of the system where being a good, law abiding, hard-working, honest citizen had resulted in one crushing defeat after another. I won’t bore you with my story here – there is plenty of that on my blog – but I wanted to stop being a victim.

So the law case, handled by the incorrigible Colm McGeehan and ably barristered by Dr Michael Forde, Richard Humphries and the aforementioned Ruadhán, led me to the High Court so that I could argue my constitutional rights were being infringed.

I blushed when I met Ruadhán again for I was a most awkward client. The sharing of reciprocal affidavits where nothing was ‘admitted’ by the Irish Government except that I might be the Artful Dodger in question reminded me too powerfully of my recent experience in the divorce courts.

However, the legal team sallied on undeterred by their emotional client. And as the government too decided that I was not for turning, the law was rushed through in time for me to run for the European Parliament in Ireland South in May 2014.

I am proud to say I left the electoral count centre in Cork with 11,500 votes under my belt build on nothing more than my character.

I had no money, no party behind me and only four weeks to run my campaign. So much for the Government ‘admitting’ that I was the Artful Dodger.

However, while my character may have passed the moral test, my financial status has not as yet recovered sufficiently for me to be in a position to purchase that rather nice book. So instead the kind lady at Bloomsbury scanned in page 71 and here I attach it proudly.

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I am proud to be Page 71

 

 

 

 

And I thank Ruadhán for his encouraging words to me as I entered the 2014 European race with all the experience of a church mouse. Ruadhán said that everybody should run in a political election at least once in their life. While at the time, that emotional, denying Artful Dodger cursed him for his enthusiasm, the post election, triumphant candidate is deeply grateful for his words.

Victories are more than votes.

I got to put my victimhood under the sword in the process. That, as the ad says, was priceless.

But you can buy the book here

jennys book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2014 – I got an honorable mention in the Semi Final

 Semi final. I made an honourable mention in this high-profile, fast-paced International Short Story Writing Competition.

Below in the email I received today with the honourable mention, followed by my story Welcome to Marstown. Below that is the first round story, In Full Pursuit which led me into the semi final.

If your story placed in the top 5 below, congratulations, you are among the 40 writers advancing to the 3rd and Final Round kicking off at 11:59PM EDT this Friday, May 2nd!  Choosing the top 5 in this round was incredibly difficult and there were many outstanding stories that didn’t place. Regardless of how your story placed, you should be proud of completing two very tough writing challenges and we hope it was inspiring!

#1 ‘The Fading King’ by Melissa Brand SYNOPSIS – The one who bears the Mark, will repossess The Fading King’s crown and become his successor. He clings to what is left of himself as he awaits The Repossessor.

#2 ‘The Alignment’ by Jonathan Ochoco SYNOPSIS – A man journeys to a magical valley to witness the alignment of his world’s twin suns and moon.

#3 ‘Lady of the Black Irons’ by Jamie Campbell SYNOPSIS – Long after a nuclear apocalypse devastates humanity, a once-clandestine war between creatures of darkness and a secret order of warrior-clerics spills into the open, and a witch hunter of a feared and venerated line tracks her prey to a dying town in the wasteland.

#4 ‘The Hula Girl’ by Adam Dennis SYNOPSIS – An island repo man is strangely captivated by a swaying hula figurine on the dash of a routine pick up. The tiny hula girl awakens memories of his past and offers him a chance for redemption.

#5 ‘The Sound of One Shoe Tapping’ by R. Daniel Lester (Ryan Lester) SYNOPSIS – A nameless, tough-as-nails corporate repo man is sent to collect a valuable spell from reclusive mega-celebrity, Finnegan Flash, the galaxy’s greatest tap dancer.

#Honorable Mention ‘Isolde’s Dance’ by Deanna Westwood SYNOPSIS – Isolde believed that she couldn’t dance until she received a stolen gift. However that gift had a destiny of its own.

#Honorable Mention ‘Shoe Envy’ by William Wilbur SYNOPSIS – When Cinderella realizes Dorothy of Oz has ruby slippers, she devises a plan to replace her own glass slippers.

#Honorable Mention ‘Welcome to Marstown’ by Jillian Godsil SYNOPSIS – Daria has emigrated from earth to Marstown, a settlement on Mars where everyone comes on a one way ticket and the Corporation is in charge. She finds love with Harry, a Plutonian, and runs her Delightful Dancing Emporium, but the oxygen is running out.

Welcome to Marstown

 

The letter lay on Daria’s welcome mat. The fact that the Corporation had bothered to put it in writing meant they were serious. Paper equated to legal ruling. Harry had already heard the quiet fall of the envelope; his hearing was far superior to hers. Indeed when the letter came during the night he said he could smell the uniform – the taint of the repossessor. On a planet that was already a prison; the only real deterrent was removal of goods.

Daria picked it up and turned it over. Sure enough, there was the black and yellow stamp, the waspish colour of his office. It was addressed to Daria’s Delightful Dancing Emporium. Even twenty years ago sarcasm had been in short supply. The name was never questioned and the sign hung over her studio in the recreational section, or the wrecks as it was unpleasantly nicknamed. Twenty years of a Marsian atmosphere had buckled the external plates creating a weird, rumpled finish to the walls inside. Obsolescence had a new meaning when living on a planet that did not have its own oxygen. The one way ticket, return ticket not optional, and now the dwindling air supplies gave its inmates great clarity. Living in the moment was the only religion in town.

The repossessor was coming on Wednesday morning to collect her music centre. Since everything, the inmates included, was barcoded there was no point in trying to hide it. Sensors would pin point its new position in seconds. Strangely for the human race, no one had figured out how to create hiding spots on Marstown as the facility was quaintly called. Even when the ships came from other planets bringing a motley range of creatures, there had been no dissention. Maybe twenty years was too short to grow a revolution, or even a protesting voice or two. Or maybe it was the introduction of different species that distracted the original human settlement. Hard to devil up a rebellion when living with mutts and even marrying them. Not that marriage existed on Marstown, anyone wishing to consciously couple just put in a request for joint quarters.

‘Is it from repo?’ called Harry from their quarters. Daria nodded. Harry had moved in three years ago when Daria had used up all the available male humans. A free spirit she called herself; a modern Isadora Duncan with her scarfs and dancing emporium. When she signed up for her one way trip she had been asked her profession. As a highschool dropout with a series of minor demeanours on her record, she had paused. This question had been asked at disembarkation, not departure. They would, and did, take anyone for the Marstown mission. It was like pressganging raw recruits into the army. Daria had licked her pencil thoughtfully. She turned her head on one side and a number of possible occupations floated past. She pointed out her left foot. Once, as a child, she had been told she had nice feet. She looked critically again at her foot; it was still elegant, thin and long. It had a matching elegant, thin and long partner in the right. She clicked her heels and wrote dancing instructor.

It had been a surprisingly good choice of occupation at first. What do you do with several hundred humans locked in an airtight facility on a forbidding planet? Dance, of course, dance. Daria had been very popular. Men and women flocked to her dancing school. She called her teaching methods exploratory and her natural rhythm and pert breasts pulled in the men. The women followed by default. It was the Marsian Ballroom of Romance.

However, the real success had come once the other ships arrived. Integration of different species in a single facility was fraught with issues, not least the question of socialisation. Dancing was an activity open to all shapes, sizes and species. Even the Plutonians, with their long heavy tails, could shake their booty with the best of them. That was when Daria met Harry. His long heavy tail served as a third leg. He could rest on it while talking or pull it around his body when he danced. Sometimes, if he got very excited, it would stretch upright, taut and quivering. It had taken two years, but Harry pursued Daria. He learnt English, he learnt how to dance and he learnt how to cook human food. She in turn learnt to stop shaving, for Plutonian males like their females hairy.  Now at night, curled in his arms, she would feel the heavy weight of his tail on her body, tapping gently as he fell asleep.

‘He is coming on Wednesday,’ Daria said. ‘We’ll have to dance to music in our heads,’ and she chuckled at the absurdity of that thought. Then as suddenly as she had begun laughing, she stopped. There would be no more dancing, it took up too much oxygen.

 

Rumours had started about five years ago when the emigrant fund dried up, even from more disadvantaged planets. Word had gotten round that Marstown was in difficulty. The Corporation denied it vigorously but the supply ships had stopped arriving. A one way ticket was well and good if you could live your life on Mars, but if you thought suffocation might be on your death certificate then chances were you probably wouldn’t apply. No new company engineers, no new oxygen tanks the size of small stars, no new food pods – in fact no ships at all. The docking terminal was all but closed except for a caretaker staff of worms. The worms, from Uranus, had failed spectacularly to integrate with anyone. They only spoke their own language, mixed only with each other and since there were hermaphrodite, spawned a new and fast growing population.

‘Give them time,’ said Harry, ‘And they’ll outnumber the rest of us.’

Daria had shrugged her shoulders at that prediction. Worms kept to themselves, were inherently passive and their only vice, as far as she could see, was their growing consumption of oxygen; but no one had shown any signs of wishing to commit mass genocide for that trait. Wars had been left on earth; maybe the blame lay with the excessive consumption of oxygen.

Around that time, sensors started displaying how much oxygen was being consumed in each airtight pod. If someone decided to run around the wrecks, lights would flash and alarms sounds. ‘Slow down,’ intoned the sad voice on the loudspeaker. ‘Save the air.’ The choir had all but shut up shop; their collective intake of oxygen singing Handel’s Messiah that winter had sent the alarm bells into overdrive. Sometimes they still met to sing Taize chants: long, slow and whispered. Daria too had modified her dance studio. She switched to lullabies, crooning singers and slow country warbles. Her dance students held each other and smooched around the floor in a parody of Hicksville bar, shuffling their way from one sad tune to the next. It was hard to be joyous when oxygen was restricted.

‘Do we need music to dance?’ Harry was by her shoulder now, looking at the letter in her hand. Daria smiled at him.

‘For all your love of hair you come from a very philosophical race.’

Harry growled and picked her up but she giggled. ‘Which came first,’ she squealed. ‘The dancer or the dance?’

He set her down laughing too but his face became serious. ‘Percussion,’ he said. ‘That’s all you need.’

 

When the repo man arrived, in his black and yellow uniform, he took the music centre and all her collection of music. Daria looked at him and said nothing. There were also rumours of oxygen tanks secreted away by the repo men. Harry had remarked they were welcome to them. ‘Imagine living out your final days with only the repo men for company?’ he’d said. Daria shuddered at the thought. In bed, she looked into his eyes, buried deep in his hairy face. In time she’d learnt to decipher the emotions solely from his eyes. He did not frown or smile; his face was not made for such superficial demonstrations of emotion; only his eyes. Eyes are windows to the soul was the line that repeated in Daria’s head at such times.

‘If we run out of oxygen,’ she said. ‘Will you kill me before I suffocate?’

‘Of course, my love.’

 

Thursday morning and Daria’s regulars were in her studio. They looked at her blankly at first. They had been told about the repo man and the removal of music. One couple began dancing anyway. What else was there to do? Daria put her rucksack on the floor.

‘We are going to make our own music,’ she said.

‘But if the choir can’t sing, how can we?’ asked Julius, a three-legged emigrant from Jupiter.

‘We are going to make rhythm,’ said Daria and she handed out the wooden spoons and rulers and kitchen implements gathered from her quarters.

‘Let’s make rhythm.’ It was messy at first and even Daria admitted it didn’t get much better, but they made a great sound. Some of the couples started dancing in a tribal fashion. They grunted and gyrated to the beat and soon the alarms were going off. Daria laughed out loud. It would take the Corporation weeks to issue all the correct warnings and even then she could argue she needed the instruments for her kitchen. Daria’s Delightful Dancing Emporium was not dead yet.

‘And when they do take the improvised drum sticks, then we have our hands,’ she said with glee.

‘And our tails,’ said Harry thumping his loudly on the floor.

‘And our feet,’ said Julius, doing a quick tap dance with his three feet. He panted and the alarms went off.

‘We can dance to the alarms too,’ said Daria, rocking in time to their swinging piercing sound.

 

The weeks passed and Daria’s students still met each morning. Julius had become rather good at palming with minimal oxygen expenditure. Sometimes they got to the end of a morning without the alarms going off, but Daria was getting regular correspondence from the Corporation now. They were closing her studio under section twelve of the corporate code. Once they had the final permission from the Secretary General, then the locks would be placed on the doors to the studio and the sign taken down.

‘It’s not just my studio, is it?’ Daria asked Harry. He held her tight, pulling her closer with his thick tail. They rocked together. Daria could feel the familiar desire rise in her and she kissed him. His tail quivered and went bolt upright. They made love like Plutonians did, standing up and then jumping together. Daria would never go back to human sex after Plutonian. In their little quarters where no cameras were allowed, they jumped and jumped. Moments later the alarms went off. ‘Slow down, Save the air,’ went the loudspeaker. Daria looked directly into Harry’s eyes.

‘No,’ he said. ‘It’s the end of everything, my love,’ and with one vicious sweep of his tail, struck Daria at the back of the head, killing her instantly.

 

The end

 

 

 

 

The 8th Annual Short Story Challenge is a creative writing competition open to writers around the world.  There are 3 rounds of competition.  In the 1st Round (February 7-15, 2014), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.  The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (March 27-30, 2014) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 1,500 word(maximum) story in just 24 hours (May 2-3, 2014).  A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected.

nycmidnight

 

NYCMidnight

I was put into Heat 6 where the genre was fairy tale and the character of a hunter had to be incorporated. I wrote my story the first day (which speed of writing I hope I can emulate if I get into the next round). Here is my story…

 

In Full Pursuit

 

This is a story set in a world where only one child is allowed per family; any other children are considered illegals and are hunted down and killed. The title is taken from Oscar Wilde’s quote on fox hunting: ‘The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable’.

 

 

He pushed open the door and entered the warm room. The gas lights were dim and the fire smoked, but it was better than the storm outside. Peter shook his furs and stamped his feet; snow littered the ground around him.  The barman looked up and gave him a neutral smile. Peter knew from experience that while he was never welcome, he was never turned away.

‘What will you have?’

‘A beer,’ said Peter looking around. ‘Have you any food left?’ It was late and the other patrons were talking into their drinks, a low rumble of chatter that clearly focused on his arrival.

‘Stew,’ said the barman pouring a beer. Peter nodded, accepting the beer and downing half it in one gulp. It was thirsty work and lonely. Most other hunters that he knew were more than fond of their beer. Peter steered on the side of caution, on the side of angels, reserving beer for the night and eschewing spirits altogether. He had shared huts with hunters who rose to beer or spirits and it wasn’t a pretty sight. It also made them uncertain stalkers; innocents were often caught in the cross hairs fuelled by a liquid breakfast. To be a hunter was to be a nomad and it was the loneliness that often led them to find solace in the bottle. Peter thanked his lucky stars for Maura, as he did often on a daily basis. Two kindred spirits, one ostracised for her healing, the other for his killing. Opposite sides of a single coin that spun through the air and had never yet found its landing place, its safe haven.

The stew was produced and Peter ate it hungrily without speaking. The barman polished a glass and watched him closely. Peter could sense he was curious and with good reason for Peter rarely travelled this far north. There was nothing or no one to hunt in these parts. When he finished, he burped loudly in compliment, pushed his bowl back and indicated he wanted another beer. The barman filled his glass and removed the empty bowl.

‘That did the trick,’ the barman said. ‘So, what brings you to our mountains?’

Peter could sense the interest across the bar; all ears were turned towards him. He could feel the curiosity quivering in the air. He burped again into silence and said: ‘That was a fine stew, thank you.’ Peter wondered if he should tell him or not. Sometimes he could get good intelligence from the locals. By the question, he presumed that he was the first hunter in the area, good if his instincts were right, bad if he was off course. He took another gulp of his beer. ‘Illegal child,’ he said. ‘From the Runoffs.’

The barman’s eyes narrowed. He spat onto the floor in disgust. ‘Dirty, nasty things,’ he said. ‘We don’t want them around here. No, we don’t.’

Peter nodded: ‘Any sightings then?’

‘No, we’d have called the Constabulary if we’d suspected anything. From the Runoffs you say? They are a bad lot there. Always flaunting the rules. Just one will do, don’t they get that message. Illegal children cause hardship always. Can’t be trusted. They don’t go to the Institution to be learned right,’ and he paused to check Peter’s reaction. Peter just nodded. ‘Dirty, nasty things,’ the barman repeated, polishing the glass vigorously.

Peter finished his beer. ‘Is there a room free?’ he asked.

‘Just in the shed,’ the barman replied. ‘But, it’s clean and there is fresh straw.’

Peter nodded. He was used to outside accommodation. His furs were old and hummed; strange smells of blood-iron, smoke from open fires and sweat from chasing prey. A heady cocktail, it wasn’t pleasant. When he moved to his shed, he knew the patrons would flap the air to try and get rid of his scent. They would not be so rude, or foolish, to do it while he was still there. Peter agreed a fee and paid the man. He would be long gone before anyone woke in this hamlet.

Morning came early, mists clinging to the side of the mountain, and the fresh tang of snow in the wind. It was bitterly cold and Peter wondered about his prey. Ten years of age, a female and no doubt scrawny. Illegal children were always thin and hard to stomach. The first one had been seven years ago, a young boy with burns on his face and legs where he had hidden in a chimney of all places; with a fire at the bottom. He had escaped so maybe he wasn’t that foolish, but it only gained him six more months of life. Peter wondered if the scars had had time to heal before he slit his throat. All that pain for six months of life; Peter wondered if it had been worth it. The boy had taken a solid week to track and in the end it was tiredness not lack of guile that let him down. Peter dispatched him quickly, a mercy killing he called it, but his face continued to haunt his sleep. When tracking children the memories surfaced again and Peter preferred not to sleep, not to chance to dream.

Peter left the shed, which had been warm, and strode off in the still air. He moved noiselessly for a man so large. He was so far north he wondered about detouring to see Maura afterwards. It had been almost eight months since he had been here last, that time chasing a convict; a weaselly, skunk of a man. He had been sentenced to death for murder, an eye for an eye, but escaped before the gallows could claim him. It was Peter who found him and returned him to the platform. The City wanted to see convicts hanged but preferred to have children executed in the field. No one wanted to know about the illegal children, and even less to see them. It was an intermittent problem, usually flushed out by inspections and areas like the Runoffs gave consistent trouble.

At the thought of Maura, Peter’s mood brightened. When he visited she made him strip before he was allowed enter her cabin. ‘Leaving the blood outside,’ she said. She would boil water and fill a bath for him. He stomped around outside waiting for her tiny kettles to boil enough water. When she opened the door, he would bellow and strip in a single gesture, before running into the house and climbing into the hot bath. Maura cleaned him with aromatic soaps and oils, anointing him for her pleasure. It was the one time his scent was submerged to hers. Sometimes she would join him in the bath, naked but for her amulet; an amber stone shaped like a cat’s claw. She had been found with it as a baby; an illegal child, but found by a childless couple and so given a stay of execution. She attended the Institution with all the legal children but she never fitted in. Now, as a healer she lived a hermit-like existence. Without words, Peter knew he was the only man who visited her, but she never asked him to stay. It was just the way things were.

Peter walked on through the morning. Why had he come to this area? Some instinct told him the illegal had come this way. He had tracked her directly for some twenty miles before losing the scent. He had a choice; to continue on the seaward direction or move inland. He had chosen inland and upmountain. All he knew about the illegal was she was light on her feet and good at climbing. He looked seaward and at the mountains. A climber would choose the mountains he reasoned and so he turned uphill. This was his second day without any tracks. He was not worried. He had more furs and flesh on him, than she had on her skinny body. Either he or nature would have its way. He walked all day without hesitation; it was as if the wind carried an invisible code and he sniffed each time he stopped for new directions. At dusk, he paused at the edge of a wooded area and looked around. Something caught his eye. It was a lone deer, grazing at the edge of the wood. He drew his bow carefully and took aim. The arrow pierced her eye and she fell quietly. Then he saw she had a fawn standing closer into the woods, he drew his bow again but the young animal slipped back into the shadow of the trees and was gone. Peter cursed. He would have liked to have brought both as a gift to Maura. Still, a deer was a mighty present and this was a plump creature. He swiftly gralloched the deer, tied up its hooves and strung the body up in a hammock over a tree. He would collect it later and this way it should be safe from scavengers.

 

When night fell, Peter curled up in his furs and slept. He wondered if he was close to the illegal and if she had managed to find any food or shelter. No one in these parts would harbour her; the penalties were too high and illegals generally despised. ‘Nasty, dirty things’ the barman had called them and he was not alone. Peter’s dreams were vivid again and he cursed when he woke. Then he stopped. He heard something: a tiny noise of a branch not snapping but being bent to its limit, a tiny creak. Peter silently moved to the edge of the woods. He was hidden behind a tree when he saw her; pale and thin against the dark trees. She stepped gingerly along the wooded path, for there were many twigs capable of yielding their noises. She had no furs as he suspected but dirty rags of clothes. He watched as she picked her way in the early morning light. She was actually moving in his direction. He must be upwind for surely she would have smelt him by now. He stood rigid as a statue hardly breathing. He didn’t dare draw his bow for fear of giving his presence away. Slowly, inch by terrible inch, she moved closer to him. He could smell her in the wind, tangy and light. He waited until she was mere feet away from him before he unleashed his bellow and ran at her. The sudden noise and movement surprised her. She did not run. She blinked instead and in that moment, he had his hands around her neck. He was choking her and she made not a sound. Her eyes rounded and a single tear fell down her cheek. He closed his hands tighter and shook her frame as if she was a doll. Her hands rose then fell. At that instance, a chain fell forward from around the neck; a chain with a bright amber pendent. It was Peter’s turn to blink but he loosened his hands. He had been about to break the fragile neck but the chain banged against his wrists. He removed one hand and looked at the pendent. It was of a cat’s claw.

‘Who are you?’ he hissed angrily. Her face remained the same; impassive but her lips moved though no sound came out. Peter released her neck. He placed both hands on her shoulders and he could feel her body shaking. ‘Who are you?’ he repeated but she gave no answer. For the first time in his life, Peter could feel an indecision rising in him like a volcano. He cursed again loudly. This death was worth more than 500 coins to him. He could live a year on that kind of money. The illegal looked at him. Her lips had stopped moving. Had she been trying to explain who she was or to ask for mercy? It was obvious, even to an illegal or rather especially to an illegal, that he was a hunter and no quarter would be given.

 

Maura did not run the bath for Peter. He handed over the illegal and the deer, but not before cutting its throat and blooding the illegal’s clothes with it. He watched the woman and the child stand in the doorway. As he watched, Maura closed the door and put on the bath instead for the child. Peter would not visit her again. He carried the illegal’s life in his hands. Returning to the City he presented the torn and bloodied clothes and collected his payment. He did not visit the North again. He found solace instead in the contents of a bottle. His drunken dreams were filled with the images of the boy but he never remembered them when he woke. That was the one gift the bottle could give him.

 

The end

Jillian Godsil

 

 

 

Interview with Aoife Brennan, author of The Cougar Diaries

Jillian Grab 4I have been working with South East Television and recently they asked me to interview Irish writer Aoife Brennan, author of The Cougar Diaries.

 

 

 

 

Jillian Grab 6

Aoife’s book is fascinating in that she writes from the heart. It is not your normal erotica, in fact it is it quite the opposite as her character faces real life situations and troubles as she tries to discover who she is post divorce. It is also very funny in parts and a little sad in others.

 

 

Jillian Grab 5 Aoife explained that this book is all about Sex and Divorce, but book two is all about Sex and Austerity. And funnily enough, it works. A real page turner. Watch here to see my interview with this lovely author.

 

 

Jillian Grab 3Sadly we had to take down the YouTube link HERE (NSFW). but here is a transcript of the very funny interview – lots of laughter and frank discussion!  Buy the book here (.com) or here (.co.uk)

 

 

Jillian:

The year is 2013 and the book title Fifty shades is synonymous with erotica or Mummy porn. People said it started off with ereaders – women could buy the most salacious reading materials and no one would know it. It also sparked off a discussion of the Orgasm Face – where watching people reading ebooks became a national pastime and people tried to guess not only what they were reading but which part they had reached – as in if they had reached a juicy part!

But last summer all over Europe and by deck chairs up and down by every pool was a copy of the ubiquitous book. People no longer hide it on ereaders, they read it loud and proud.

So fast forward to this summer and reading is again the popular pastime for women. There is endless choice available as everyone and his wife has written a bonkbuster – it’s the fastest growing genre on Amazon and it seems there is no letting up.

So today I am going to turn my attention to an Irish Author who has followed suit – only in a particularly Irish fashion. The book is The Cougar Diaries, Part I and it is by Aoife Brennan.  Critics are giving the book consistent five stars and some even say it’s like Roddy Doyle, with sex.

But while this latest book, the first in a trilogy, is gathering followers, the author is very shy. In fact, the author refuses to be filmed and only agree to the interview on the strict condition that her face is not shown. So ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Aoife Brennan

Or rather – I give you her voice

First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview Aoife. But I understand that you do not want to be recognised and that indeed you are writing under a pen name. Can you tell me why?

 

Aoife:    Laughs. There is only one thing more embarrassing than writing a sex book, and that is writing a sex book which no one buys. I believe in my books – all three of them – but I need to sell copies before I ‘come out’   Plus also there is the thorny issue in the country of debt. I have acres of it myself and I don’t want the banks getting their hands on my money thank you very much

Jillian: You are not alone there. But I have to ask you – you used the term ‘sex book’ is it  sex book?

Aoife: Yes and no! I have to confess there is sex in this book. Some pretty graphic sex and lots of it, but it is much more than a sex book. Warning contains plot (laughs)

 Jillian: A sex book with plot – how novel! Do tell more

Aoife: Well, I started off writing a non fiction book about my life. I was writing about my divorce, my descent into financial hell, the difficulties of dating again in my forties…when well my financial difficulties became so bad I just sort of segued into a sex book. And it was much more fun to write!

 Jillian: So, do women in their forties have sex then?

Aoife: Laughs. Of course. They say that youth is wasted on the young, well so too is sex! The hard part, if you’ll excuse the language, is getting back into the saddle again. You’d think, like riding a bicycle, it would come naturally again – but it doesn’t.

 Jillian: Well, I am glad to hear that women in their forties are having sex? Are they having it with men in their forties?

Aoife: Well, that’s the point. That’s why I called the books The Cougar Diaries. They are actually having a lot a sex with men much younger.

 Jillian: Good for the women in their forties, not so good for men in their forties

Aoife: Laughs – single men in their forties are having sex with younger women – that has always been the way, but now women are doing that too.

Jillian: So there are no forty year old people having sex with people their own age? No, I am messing but I hear your point. There are many examples in the media of older women with younger men, but is Ireland ready to embrace the Cougar culture?

Aoife: It’s already happening with a vengeance. I know many women of my generation who are single. When I told them I as writing a book about Cougar dating, they all came out and said, they were as well. There is a real comraderie between women of this age – there are a lot of downsides to being single in your forties, but there are some very good points too – notably the fun!

Jillian: You mentioned earlier that dating and having sex again was not like riding a bike, what did you mean by that?

Aoife: Well, I was married young but I think sex has changed a lot from when I was dating. It was all so …conventional I think. Now with 50shades and other popular erotica, we’ve opened a Pandora’s box and it’s a lot of fun. People are more experimental and open minded and I think that is a god thing. Sex between two consulting adults should be fun

Jillian: Of course in your book, without giving away the plot, there are some sex scenes were there are more than two? Why did write those?

Aoife: Laughs. I think if you asked most actively dating people today if they had or fantasied about having a threesome, they probably have done so or would like to given the right circumstances. It’s just fun times three and if handled with respect and sensitivity can enliven a couples’s sex life or indeed just create a fun night!

While I was writing the book, a very good male friend of mine kept on joking and asking if he could help with the research. When I was writing that scene in book one, I kept on thinking of him and changed the storyline with him in mind. It was very funny and when I told him afterwards, he was gutted but I just kept on chuckling! You’ll have to read the book to find out why it was funny though!

Jillian: I  hear there is a another hilarious scene involving a strawberry – it’s even got its own hashtag – #strawberrygate. Care to tell us about that one Aoife?

Aoife: I can’t or I’ll have to kill you!  It is a funny scene though. I was waiting for my kids at training one day so rather than stand in the rain, I hopped in the back of the car to finish a sex scene. It started normally enough but then my wicked sense of humour surfaced and I started writing a different ending than originally planned. I was laughing so hard as I wrote I am sure the other parents much have thought me off my rocker!

 Jillian: How do you find writing the sex scenes – is it difficult?

Aoife:  I had written about 10,000 words before the first sex scene reared its ugly head (laughs). I stopped writing and put the laptop away It stayed away for nearly three weeks before I had the courage to begin writing again. Then once I started I just kept on going. It was brilliant – I felt I had faced another challenge in my life and successfully overcome it. I was really energised. 

Jillian: Do you get turned on my your own writing?

Aoife:  Well, put it this way, there is a funeral scene in book two – of a minor character I have to add – and I must have cried about five times while writing it. Real tears running down my face. Even when going back to edit it, I still cried – and I knew what to expect (laughs). In the same way, when I a writing sex scenes I have to see myself in situ. I have to emotionally be at the core of every scene, especially in the sex bits. And yes, I find myself being turned on by my own writing. To be honest, if I didn’t turn myself on, who else would enjoy it!

 Jillian: At the start of the book, you or Aoife, was very worried about getting naked in front of a man who wasn’t her husband. How did you get over this?

Aoife: A wise man told me once that while having sex men tend to only look at the erogenous zones. They don’t see the belly or the cellulite or whatever is bothering the woman. Moreover men tend to like curves so while you may hate your more than ample size – and a lot of women in their forties are heavier than in their twenties – forget it because your sexual partner is probably quite enjoying it! There is too much pressure on people to be perfect or stick thin. We see it all the time in the media where even the beautiful people are photoshopped into something even more prefect. We have forgotten how to love who we are. As women we tend to be more critical than we should be. After all, we have to remember that the largest sex organ is the brain and the best aphrodisiac is confidence. So go get it girl!

Jillian: You said at the start, Warning this sex book contains plot. Where did you get your ideas from?

Aoife: Well, there is a lot of me in this book. A ‘me; if I was in a bonk buster so I have quite shamelessly used vast tracks of life and experiences in this book. A woman in her forties has a lot more to worry about then just sex, laughs. I mean there are often kids, the legal issues, unhelpful exes, aging parents, money worries etc…. and then the dance with no pants!  

A lot of readers have really liked the reality of the plot. Some feel I have stolen their lives but I have just documented a woman’s path through the mine field that is dating in your forties!

Jillian: Ok, I have to ask this question. There is a lot of racy sex in this book, and even more in book two I understand. So, is the sex fact or fiction?

 

Aoife: Jillian Godsil – if I had written a murder mystery would you have asked me if I had committed a crime!!!

All I have to say on record is – I did lots of research thank you very much,

 

Jillian: No, actually thank you Aoife Brennan for taking the time to talk to me today. I have read your book and loved it. I think you have stolen my life – except that I have not yet met Chris Sex God!

Aoife: He’ll come. You just give it time.

Jillian: Thank  you Aoife. It has been a pleasure. For those of you who enjoy old fashioned plot with a smattering of steamy smutt, then I encourage you to go and buy Aoife Brennan’s The Cougar Diaries Part I, with part II scheduled for release in the summer and the final part out by the autumn. On all good Amazon online stores …now!

 

 

 

cougar diaries cover

 

Longlisted for the Doire Press 2nd Annual International Chapbook competition

I would to express my thanks to the good people at Doire Press for long-listing my short story in their 2nd Annual International Chapbook competition.

The long list of entries was taken from all over Ireland, as well as England, Scotland, Canada, Australia and the States. Doire Press very kindly said the standard was very high and gave their congratulations to all the writers on the long list. The nineteen other authors are listed below. The short list will be announced on February 13, 2013.

(* Indicates a writer with multiple shortlisted stories)

Ruth Aylett (Edinburgh)

Neil Burns (Belfast)

Jodi Chilson (Idaho, US)

Graham Connors (Dublin)

Garbhan Downey (Derry)

Jillian Godsill (Wicklow)

Paddy Halligan (Cavan)

Claire Hennessey (Dublin)

Robert Higgins (Longford)

Matt Hutchinson (London)

Jay Kauffmann (Virginia, US)

Martin Keaveney (Mayo)

Brian Kirk (Dublin)

Conor McManus  (Cork)

Maeve Mulrennan (Galway)

Clodagh O’Brien (Dublin)

Eithne Reynolds (Dublin)

Maire T. Robinson (Dubin)

Dan Sheehan (Dublin) *

 

The Next Big Thing

On Wednesday 2 January my ‘Twitter/Crime/Modest’ friend Susan Condon tagged me in an online blogging initiative called The Next Big Thing which is a series of questions about writers’ next projects. The idea is to draw attention to writers and their blogs and to lead readers to writers they might not have come across before.

I have given Susan three labels as one is not enough. We first met as strangers in 2011 on the steps of the Westin having recorded a Christmas charity single that went into the Irish charts at number eight. Four of us started a conversation literally as we were leaving and have been in frequent contact ever since. Twitter is great for making new friends in real life.

Crime is of course Susan’s thing. So much so, her husband sometimes lies awake nights wondering if he is safe.  Recently I had a very funny conversation with Susan and another friend and crime writer Lousie Philips at Maria Duffy’s book launch. The two girls regaled me with stories of how they searched for gory details online on how to kill someone, what happens when you stick knives in funny places and then about bodies decomposing. Their children were less than pleased their kind mothers were engaging in such research and even worse, writing about it. So armed, I returned home to my two teenagers and said wasn’t it better that I was writing about sex and not horrible serial killers and the like. Both my teenager children said they would categorically prefer if I wrote about twelve year olds being killed! Hmmm.

Finally, Susan is one of the most modest people I know. She was won loads of awards and prizes and you’d have to stick knives into funny places before she would tell you. I am looking forward to her book very much. The little snippets sound thrilling. She is also a great supporter and friend and compassionate woman. Even if she writes about murder most foul!

 

My Next Big Thing:

Can I be greedy and say I am working on two next big things? Can I? Can I? They are both so different that it is like inhabiting two very different worlds. The first is a non-fiction book on the impact a severely disabled child has on a family; the way the lives of the parents and siblings are affected. It is a heart breaking book and the family were very honest with me. It is very painful and does not have a happy ending.

The second is of course a sex book. Absolutely salacious. I may have to publish under a pseudonym. However, I believe my book has a lot to say about a woman dating in her 40s post-divorce. Unlike the very obvious 50Shades, my sex book really looks at dating issues and then of course has lots of sex!

What is the working title of your book?

The non-fiction book is tentatively called Waiting for the Gift – in direct contrast to the notion that having a severely disabled child is blessing. Love is there but the burden is overpowering. My sex book has the working title of … My Sex book, lol.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  

The non-fiction book happened as I was approached by the family who wanted to share their experiences, good and bad, to help people facing the same issues and also to open the eyes of people, such as myself, who literally had no idea. My sex book was born from necessity. I was broke and decided that my poverty must be overcome. Sex sells!

What genre does your book fall under?  

Gift – the human condition with heart breaking aspects and some self-help and growth aspects. I guess it might also be considered a biography of a family in stress.

Sex – mainstream women’s commercial literature with plenty of good things to say about the human condition. Aha – there are some similarities between my two books aside from a common author

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?      IFTAs2012 019

Michael Fassbender can play the brother in the first book and the lover in the second. In fact, he can play all the male parts! Should Mr Fassbender agree to play the main lead in my Sex book, I think it only fair I should act opposite him.

 

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Gift – uncovering the myths surrouding disability and the impact on the family

Sex – how to live, survive and have fun post-Divorce

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

Gift took the guts of a year as I interviewed and wrote. Sex took six weeks for the first draft – I wrote like a woman possessed

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?   

I don’t believe there is a comparable book with Gift, not to my knowledge anyway.

Sex – of course 50shades but with a cold dose of reality and a very likeable 40 year old main protagonist

Who or what inspired you to write this book?   

I was invited to interview and recount Gift. I found it a real privilege to do so and found it very, very sad.

Sex was inspired by life but driven by poverty!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  

Some friends have been kind enough to read early proofs of both my books. With Gift a friend who works with siblings affected by disability in families said she found it very powerful and true. It is a story often forgotten and rarely told.

With the Sex book, the general reaction is for women to book their husbands into hotels and for men to take cold showers. I say no more….

When and how will it be published? 

Both are with my agent. I was very happy to give him Gift and really look forward to hearing back. I was mortified to give him Sex – poor man, what did he do to deserve to have to read that!

Just before I hand over to my tag team I wanted to add…

My life this century has been a little bit interesting. I write a blog which reflects that and also my latent activism. Sadly I have been severely impacted by divorce and debt and struggle to survive financially with my two great kids. I believe I have been given a voice and should use it. I have a huge number of people who support me but even more importantly are those people that I don’t know but who are in the same pickle as myself. One might fall, but together we can create change.

Or as citizen Smith once said …come the revolution! Lol

My other books are available on Amazon or Lulu

And now over to my diverse and interesting fellow writers – watch their posts on Wednesday January 16…

Tommy Collison

Tommy is an Irish student, blogger and writer. He writes and listens to a lot of music. He is a secondary school student in Limerick.

Links

https://twitter.com/tommycollison

www.tommycollison.net

 

Mary Bradford

Mary Bradford is a published writer of short stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and the USA. She had completed her first novel ‘A Thorn in my Side’. Her first short story collection, ‘A Baker’s dozen’ is now on sale on Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords in paperback, Kindle and ebook format.

Links

https://twitter.com/marytbrad

http://marytbradford-author.blogspot.ie/

 

Patricia (Trish) Nugent

Trish lives in Terenure, Dublin, and is a writer of poetry,memoir and short stories.

A part time actress, Trish has appeared in Fair City, Love Hate and several Movies and TV commercials.  She is a full time wife and mother of three sons and one daughter. She is a member of Rua Red writers group and An Cosan Drama group in Rua Red.

In 2011 Trish represented ‘Platform One’ for social Inclusion week by performing her own monologue ‘The Bisto Tin’ onstage at the Civic Theatre.  Presently Trish is compiling a poetry and memoir collection.

 

Links:

https://twitter.com/Trish_Nugent

trishnugentwriter.wordpress.com

 

 

Argument in Favour of Fifty Shades

(this article first appeared in www.TheDailyShift.com on Saturday 4, August 2012)

 

Guest contributor Jillian Godsil reveals why she believes E.L. James’s infamous novel Fifty Shades of Grey has had a positive impact on modern society and is liberating women around the world…

 

Yes, that ubiquitous book again. It’s the name on everyone’s lips and it’s still flying off the shelves at an amazing rate. Everyone is calling it ‘mummy porn’ and the idea is that eBooks have liberated women and they can read erotica without anyone knowing.

There are some very funny jokes about the Fifty Shades face on the Luas. The trick is to look at women reading Kindles on public transport and guess if they are reading erotica. It’s called the Fifty Shades face and it’s a public version of a woman’s orgasm face.

Actually, we’ve leapfrogged past the part where women are reading erotica discretely; we’ve already gone well past that little hurdle. Women are openly talking about it, women of all ages, and the sales of the physical paper back are through the roof. So it’s not as though women are reading it on the sly. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Instead, what has happened is a revelation. Women like reading erotica. It’s the polite end of porn. Porn, while also increasingly pervasive, is largely dominated by men, so the content tends to be male centric. It is also disturbing as children as young as seven have admitted viewing porn. The gatekeepers of decency haven’t got a hope as porn is so firmly available everywhere. It’s not that porn is intrinsically bad, it’s just that it is predominantly skewed to a male stereotype. This is another conversation but have a look at what Cindy Gallop of makelovenotporn.tv has to say on the subject.

Back to erotica. Women like reading erotica. This has been known for a long time. Women have known for a long time that the largest sex organ is the brain. Men find this a little hard to grasp. They don’t understand the popularity of Fifty Shades: ‘There are no pictures’ is often the puzzled cry. The fact is that women like to imagine their own pictures and erotica allows them to do just that. Women also typically like to find a context for their lust, so a plot is helpful. This concept is behind the idea that foreplay begins at breakfast, women like to be warmed up and not cold taken.

So while women know they like erotica, the problem was where to find it. Chick lit has the context but limited actual erotic writing. There are only a couple of well known names in this field; Anais Nin wrote literary erotica, Nancy French curated women’s fantasies, Erica Jong coined the term the ‘zipless fuck’ and Julie Burchill played fast and loose with her female character in Ambition. But those are only four names and their styles are so vastly different it would be unusual to find them all on the same person’s bookshelf (ok, they are all on mine).

The beauty of Fifty Shades of Grey is that people know it is an erotic book. It is all about the sex.

It is not terribly well written, the style harks to Twilight. If you love Twilight, then great. It’s very Mills and Boon, but with nipple clamps. The main character is borderline hateful with her great skin and multiple orgasms without Mr Grey going anywhere near her clitoris. She also has an inner goddess that I would personally like to strangle.

Christian Grey is of course young, gorgeous and filthy rich. His jeans hang off his hips and it appears he has a very attractive penis. Someone once commented that their wife wouldn’t let him tie her up as Mr Grey does, only for the wife to retort that not only did Mr Grey have all the above favourable attributes, he didn’t pick his toenails during episodes of CSI.

However, all of those criticisms are irrelevant. The book has sold to date in excess of 20 million copies and is a by word for erotica. I personally want to thank E.L. James for breaking the glass ceiling on women’s reading. And yes, I am writing my very own erotic novel and so am very grateful for the newly popularised genre.

 

Jillian Godsil is on twitter @jilliangodsil and her blog is www.JillianGodsil.com.  Her books are available on Amazon.