Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Interview Ron Culley

Interview of 
Ron Culley
Author of 
The Patriot Game

Questions by R. Murry

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Yeah. I'm a full time author with five books under my belt. I'm lucky in that I retired early and can indulge my passion for writing. I'm a proud Scotsman and live in Glasgow where my wife and four strapping boys also reside. My wife's half-Irish which accounts for her occasional, hands-on-hips bad temper and for the fact that our two youngest have Irish names rather than Scottish like their two older brothers. It also accounts for Irish themes in my books.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? 

I suspect that I'm more than lucky in that the first story I wrote is also the first story I had published. My publisher saw something in my writing and took the plunge despite the fact that I was something of a novice. He's a great guy - other than the fact that he made me change the name of the book from 'The New Guards' (from the wording of the American Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 which permits Americans to install ' new guards' in Congress if their present politicians fail them - and which is why US citizens are permitted to carry arms) to the more anodyne and confusing 'The Kaibab Resolution'. It explores the question of gun control in America, the Mafia and the IRA and was received very well.

Were you inspired by someone or something?  

In a sense, I watched a TV program one night about the importance of first sentences in books...'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' (A Tale Of Two Cities) and I lifted a pen (it was before computers) and wrote ten 'first sentences' on a piece of paper. I can still remember the one I chose as the best. It was...
'Las Vegas had suggested itself as a gradual golden glow in the night sky when the plane was still ten minutes flying time from McCarran Airport.'
The sentence became a paragraph, then a chapter and ultimately, The Kaibab Resolution'.

What do you like about writing a story?   

To be honest, the paraphernalia that surrounds writing - but that which has to be undertaken; researching, proof-reading, dealing with publishers, arguing about book covers, moaning about pricing etc, all feels like actual work but when I'm engaged and involved in the art and practice of committing words to a page or an iPad, I'm completely transported. It's a wonderful feeling to know that I'm telling a story that will intrigue and entertain other people. The feedback I've received over the years has been fantastic and can be a motivating factor when I'm dealing with writer's block if a character is struggling or if the narrative seems to be heading for a cul-de-sac.

Can you tell us about your book?

My latest is 'The Patriot Game', so named after the Irish folk song written by Dominic Behan whose first stanza is;
Come all you young rebels and list while I sing
For love of one's country is a terrible thing
It banishes fear with the speed of a flame
And makes us all part of the patriot game
                                                             Dominic Behan 1958

During times of war, all parties call on patriotism as a duty and as an inspiration to action. During World War Two, Winston Churchill, Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera, Adolph Hitler, Eisenhower and Menachim Begin all saw themselves as patriots. All claimed God on their side.
The book recounts the true (if largely unknown) story that during the Second World War, fearful of a German occupation of the Republic of Ireland, Churchill offered the Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, the realisation of his dream of reuniting Ireland by returning the six counties of Northern Ireland if the Republic joined the war on the side of the Allies. He was immediately rebuffed by de Valera who had no love of Churchill nor of the British Army after his searing memories of the bloody Easter Risings which heralded Ireland's independence.

The German Reich saw the prospect of exfiltration of senior Nazis to Ireland if the war went badly for them and also courted de Valera. However, both the Allies and Axis powers also developed plans to invade Ireland who’s Prime Minister, Éamon de Valera vowed to maintain its neutrality, despite the efforts of the British Secret Service and the German Abwher to make Ireland a belligerent.

After the war, rather than head to Argentina or Bolivia, many senior Nazis headed for Ireland to escape the Nuremberg Trials. De Valera let it be known that belligerents from either side would be safe so long as they did not harm the interests of the Irish State and many senior German officers were subsequently feted in Irish society.
This book tells the true story and wraps it in an entertaining narrative.
What genre best fits for the book? 

It's a work of historical fiction. I've researched it meticulously and have tried to weave a story round the facts which both tell the story in a way that makes it accessible but which also entertains. The best examples of historical fiction I can bring to mind might be books or films like Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Charlie Wilson's War or Saving Private Ryan...true episodes in history but given a burnishing to make them more accessible and entertaining.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Yeah. I'm working on a play and another historical fiction about Ireland called 'A Terrible Beauty Is Born', named after the famous lines penned by Irish poet WB Yates. It deals with the uprising in Dublin in 1916 which was a prelude to Irish independence. It's a  huge subject though and every Irishman's an expert on that period of their nation's history so I'm giving myself two years to write it rather than the more usual one year.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Only one...tenacity!
Like many other authors, I've lost count of the number of people who've told me that 'they've a book in them'. I dare say they have but it'll amount to the square root of nothing at all if they don't actually put pen to paper, keep at it through thick and thin and produce a piece of work.

Where can people go to read your work?

Any good bookshop - although given the recent tsunami in book retailing, the easiest way is probably to find The Patriot Game on Kindle, Amazon or another on-line retailer. The book's available in both digital and paperback format.
Alternatively, have a look at my web site, where The Patriot Game and all of my other books are exhibited along with reviews, excerpts, purchase options and a blog that I don't attend to half as much as I should (but which still has some pretty interesting and humorous stuff, if you're interested.)

Do you have anything to add?

This'll mean absolutely nothing to American readers but my second book, 'I Belong To Glasgow' has a foreword written by the legend that is Sir Alex Ferguson, recently retired manager of soccer club Manchester United, the biggest sporting franchise in the world. Yes...bigger financially than the Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Redskins, Dodgers or Knicks.

Anyway, he took to print, wrote a foreword to my book to say how much it had inspired him and extolled the hope that others might find it as I do now! I was humbled by his testimony.

Thanks for listening to my meanderings, Roy. I appreciate your interest in my latest book.

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