Q. What makes Mickey Collins, the novel, special?
A. There are a lot of answers to that, but one I like is that the reader knows more than the narrator. Many people have difficulty believing they have anything to learn from someone who is less knowledgeable of the world than they are. If you can spend some time with Mickey, he will prove you wrong – and right at the same time. And you will be entertained beyond the norm as you get to know this genuine Irish character. Even if you wouldn’t dream of being near him for any length of time in real-life. (Especially so, even!)
Q. Why The Leaving Cert?
A. The world is disintegrating as twins, Sarah and Jessica, gear-up to sit the Leaving Certificate Examination. If only people stopped dying and things made more sense, they might be able to get on with life. Only their father believes he has all the answers.
Q. Why should I read The Empathy Stone?
A. As with Mickey Collins, above, the reader is in charge here. If you are prepared to sit on the floor and play like a child for a little while, you will form new perspectives as the world is rebuilt in crazy ways you would never have imagined. You will laugh, you will cry.
Q. What can you tell me about Nothing More?
Set fifteen years before events in The Leaving Cert, above, Arth is certain he knows everything, only to learn he knows nothing. Not to be outdone, he resolves to be the prime expert on “Nothing”. Here is the place to begin to learn about Nothing.
Q. What links these books? Is there an over-arching style or theme or mindset?
There is no conscious linking, other than “what I find interesting/ entertaining/ thought-provoking.” I do love a thumping novel with great characters and writing that trundles along without a pause. Not all of my novels satisfy each of these conditions, I know, but they do all have other qualities I admire.
Besides writing the types of books I would like to read, I have noticed one characteristic that joins these books: It is often The Reader, rather than the narrator, who knows most.
I find most books are written from an omnipotent or knowledgeable or self-knowing protagonist’s point of view, who can often appreciate the ridiculousnessness of their position and wax-lyrical on it for a few paragraphs, with far more insight than others around them – “That is why they are the protagonist.“
Or, their level of technical expertise in precisely how objects behave (or why) surpasses anything a normal person would know (or seek to know). This is an understandable explanation for whatever is occurring in the novel, of course, and also very well done on the whole. I do not criticise it, but I find this tends to write-off the “non-expert” as being inconsequential. Most books and histories, afterall, concern the Victor/ the Champion/ the Leader/ the King/ the Psychopath.
My “champions” are those whose struggle leads them to find the strength to carry on amid adversity (even adversity of their own making or dreaming) and perhaps gaining an enlightenment-of-sorts to their own satisfaction.
At the same time, these novels (for me, if not for everyone), tend to exist beyond the pages of the book. The one remaining rule for novels as everyone knows is “Show, don’t Tell!”
Well, my first book concerns a man who does nothing but Tell. He convinces himself, if not the reader of his purpose. This is “the setting”, not the point.
My second is set in a world (our world) where thirty years of amazing inventions has lead to a kind of new Rennaissance. It’s silly and child-like – but again, this is “the setting”, not the point.
No spoilers, but The Leaving Cert examination is the setting for my third book – not the point.
And Mickey’s disastrous mangleation of the English language is not the point, so much as how it is indicative of his character and his struggle to be heard & understood because of it.
The Reader rules how it is read. Sure, there is fault and seeming-errors in everything these characters and stories contain. They may teach us lessons, but very often not the lessons they think they teach. For this, the Reader is key. The Reader can take it at face-value – which is hopefully a lot of fun, I find. The Reader can disagree with the conclusions or the insight of a character and read-on, certain of their own knowledge and how this leads to the downfall or the triumph of characters. The Reader can, I hope, also choose to separate themselves from the actions & conclusions and simply observe. Possibly I’m overly biased when I suggest this – I’ve read all these books too many times and still find new things in them. Or possibly things I’ve forgotten. Or find new ways to look on events.
To me, this is what great novels do – challenge our Prejudices.
If we finish by having our Prejudices confirmed – GREAT!
If we find our sensibilities wavering and being questioned by the end – GREAT!
Great novels give us the right and strengthens our ability to challenge every viewpoint, I believe. They don’t tell us how or what to think, but offer new vantage points to see what might have seemed obvious and “set in stone”, then invite us to at least consider aspects of our own thought-processes, which perhaps we find have been neglected. In this way, novels are there not only to entertain & lighten (and hopefully “Enlighten”), but also to spark something in ourselves – in The Reader – something possibly unrelated to the events in the novel, but our brain is now thundering-on beyond the page, encouraging us to see new things in every thing.
Well, that’s what I think anyway. For what it’s worth. 🤷