Sorry to sound so bossy at the start of what I hope will be a pleasant, thought provoking and most importantly entertaining relationship, but I wanted to set my stall out clearly before we can continue to the more fun juicy bits. A little bit of context will hopefully allow us all to hop off on the right creative foot.
I’m a published author having released two novels in the crime fiction/thriller genre that detail the adventures of a master thief called Danny Felix. There is a third one, but it’s not quite ready to set free into the wider world just yet. Before that, my next book will be a much more personal endeavour and one that I will start creating a base for in the posts that I welcome you to read, like, share and ponder upon when visiting my page.
I was born and bred in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My family are Catholic and we came from one of the more hard-bitten areas of the city, a place called Andersonstown which sits right at the top of the more widely known Falls Road.
My childhood and adolescence coincided with the most turbulent years in the North’s addled history, starting with the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960’s, moving through the tumult of the three-day-weeks, power cuts and imprisonment without trial (known as Internment) of the 1970’s and culminating in the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980’s.
During that time, to say I hated Northern Ireland is the mother of all understatements. Don’t get me wrong, I was blessed with a stable and loving family life and home. Domestic trauma was not, at any stage, an issue for me or my any of my family, thankfully.
Religion didn’t speak to me. Politics neither. I couldn’t get my young head round why hatred based on how you chose to worship (or be cajoled into worshipping) your stripe of God on a Sunday morning might be allowed to form the entire rationale of a community. Hence my head was forever being turned by Sean Connery as James Bond, or Clint Eastwood despatching the baddies while chomping on a cigarillo. Batman and Spiderman filled my eyes and my dreams. Star Wars was like a bolt of pure adrenalin filled liberation in 1977.
However, it is only in recent years that I have been able to reflect and look back on my childhood obsessions of movies, TV shows, comics and Americana and now realise I was setting out constant paths of escapism for myself. I wanted to transcend the daily tensions and traumas of 70’s and 80’s Belfast into a space where heroes did heroic things and morality and justice were all played out in the broadest sweeps of black and white expressionism. Nothing too out of the ordinary for most young people at that time, except most didn’t have riots, gun battles bombs and bomb scares on a fairly regular basis.
I spent my teenage years steeped in escapism and when it came time to try and create my own life, I couldn’t get to London quick enough, where I was blessed to enjoy a long, fulfilling career in TV which lasted thirty years until such times as I felt TV and I had seen the best of each other. These days, I am blessed to be landing my burning ambition: to be a published author.
But had those years of escapism really protected me from the crash, bang, wallop of Northern Irish conflict? Had I been able to dull its edge so that I might find a way out of the Six Counties and onto my own path?
Well, the answer to that is only slowly revealing itself to me now. In the posts that I will share here, I will detail some of my experiences from living through that momentous period. I will offer my reflections on the realities of intolerance and how they can puncture the most banal of day to day routines. You may even spot some of the themes that, sadly, are re-surfacing in Britain today.
I suppose you could call these scribblings a form of therapy for me, I wouldn’t dispute that too energetically. But, they are also me taking a run up. A run up to writing what I hope will be a meaningful look at Northern Ireland and its heartbreak. Maybe I might be able to shed a little light on the mindsets that helped create and fuel the confrontations in Ulster. Maybe I might be able to reconcile some of those things to myself too. And by the time I have reached the end of that run up, I will the write the first of what will be a new series of books, ones that will, within a thriller/fictional framework, provide some pause for thought while entertaining them at the same time. A big challenge, I know. One I don’t mind admitting I feel a little daunted by. But in the writing of it, I might be able to give my head and heart a little peace along the way while rewarding readers with a touch of escapism too.