Brought to Book: Brian Conaghan on Yossarian, The Fault in our Stars and Catcher in the Rye

‘As long as people have eyes there will always be a publishing industry. Don’t believe all the scaremongering that modern technology is taking over’

Brian Conaghan’s advice to aspiring authors: “If you can’t handle oodles of rejections then best to pack it in now. Otherwise, stop talking about wanting to write that book of yours and just do it”

Brian Conaghan’s advice to aspiring authors: “If you can’t handle oodles of rejections then best to pack it in now. Otherwise, stop talking about wanting to write that book of yours and just do it”

 

Brian Conaghan was born in 1971 and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge. He gained a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow in 2007. His first novel, The Boy Who Made it Rain, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. His second, When Mr Dog Bites, was published in January by Bloomsbury. The author, Charlie Higson, called it “the F word – funny, foul-mouthed, fantastic!” His new novel will be published by Bloomsbury next year. He will be speaking at the Children’s Books Ireland conference, The F Word: Failure, on Saturday and Sunday, May 24th and 25th, at the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin, See childrensbooksireland.ie for booking.

What was the first book to make an impression on you?

Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Shoot magazine.

And what is your favourite book or books now?

The Notebook, The Proof and The Third Lie by Agota Kristof.

What is your favourite quotation?

Can I have two? “If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.”(Tony Benn) and “If there’s an original thought out there I could sure use it right now.” (Bob Dylan)

Who is your favourite fictional character?

Yossarian in Catch-22.

Who is the most under-rated Irish author?

The poet Colm Keegan. That’s what Irish students should be reading on their Leaving Cert course, along with the biggies that is.

Which do you prefer – ebooks or the traditional print version?

Definitely the print version, you can’t smell an ebook.

What is the most beautiful book you own?

Apart from my own it would have to be The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon.

Where and how do you write?

I write on a wee desk in my spare room. I try to write 1,000 words a day, sometimes if I’m on a roll it can be 2,000. When I’m bored with my surroundings I go to a coffee shop and write. Fortunately the noise doesn’t put me off.

What book changed the way you think about fiction?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – the title says it all.

What is the most research you have done for a book?

The book I’ve recently completed called The Sound of One Girl Standing. I found the ongoing research process extremely interesting. It probably cut into my writing some days, to be honest.

What book influenced you the most?

J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I used to read it every year.

What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday?

The Fault in our Stars by John Green. A must-read for any teen. Maybe even my own book, When Mr Dog Bites, or would that be too egocentric? I’ll stick to John Green then.

What book do you wish you had read when you were young?

More of Roald Dahl’s work.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

If you can’t handle oodles of rejections then best to pack it in now. Otherwise, stop talking about wanting to write that book of yours and just do it.

What weight do you give reviews?

The good ones are hugely significant. The bad ones mean nothing.

Where do you see the publishing industry going?

As long as people have eyes there will always be a publishing industry. Don’t believe all the scaremongering that modern technology is taking over.

What writing trends have struck you lately?

That people are turning blogs and confessionals into books. I have no interest in reading that type of stuff. Lots of copycat writing also, from the erotic to the fantasy.

What lessons have you learned about life from reading?

You simply can’t read everything.

What has being a writer taught you?

Discipline and motivation are everything.

Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I have no real interest in the personality of authors living or dead. It’s not an evening I’d particularly enjoy. If pushed, though, can I say Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey? Their books litter the shelves these days and they could help with the prep.

What is the funniest scene you’ve read?

I’m still waiting for it.

What is your favourite word?

Apart from swear words. I like “wee” and “discombobulate”.

If you were to write a historical novel, which event or figure would be your subject?

Jesus would most definitely be the central character. I’d make him a fanatical cult leader!!!

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