Tag Archives: character

Gossip and grenades

I based a character in my book Blackwatertown on a friend I used to work with. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I just used his name and nickname. But Tom (who becomes Tomas) Greenard is now far away in Australia, so he is at my mercy.

His nickname was Tom Grenade. I never did find out why.

Tom, you’ll be pleased to hear that your alter ego lives up to your nickname in the book. Though I cannot promise that he survives to feature in the sequel.

Tom – in Australia sends this uplifting story:


Keep this in mind the next time you are about to repeat a rumour or spread gossip.In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?” Continue reading



Filed under friends, history, Music, My Writing

The Banned / A New Name

Everyone’s getting banned. Aung San Suu Kyi is banned from leaving her house arrest in Burma. Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya is banned from leaving the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. And now I’ve been banned from using the computer on Sundays. I proudly stand with my fellow bannees. But Sunday is past. So I can now mention a couple of things.

  1. Worrying/odd treatment of the British National Party (BNP) by BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat show. See Guardian newspaper news story and Roy Greenslade comment.
  2. Something delightful I saw on the Cultural Snow blog.
  3. I’ve changed the name of the main character in my novel, Blackwatertown, to (ta dah) Macken. Or more fully. John Oliver Macken, aka Jack Macken, aka Jolly Macken. There now. Isn’t that a heroic moniker?

Macken’s previous name was too close to living people, who might themselves be displeased, or might themselves incur the displeasure of others incapable of differentiating fact from fiction. Bad for the health and all that.

Macken is a conflicted Catholic policeman serving in the RUC in the 1950s. After farcical encounters in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains of County Down, he is demoted from sergeant and banished to sleepy Blackwatertown near the Irish border. His arrival has far-reaching consequences: It wakes the place up; stirs up the murkiness round the mysterious death of the police officer he is replacing; sparks a new border war; and begins a sometimes dark, sometimes funny, wild ride through the politics of sexuality, sectarianism, loyalty and what it means to belong.


Filed under media, Music, My Writing, politics

That’s not my name

The name of the main character in Blackwatertown has been a lingering problem for me. I’ve been putting off resolving the situation so as not to get caught up in interminable contemplation of this name and that name, to the extent of doing no writing.

My worry was that it was just too similar to living people, who might understandably be a bit miffed to read about the mullarkey their fictional alter ego gets up to – especially as much of my inspiration has come from real incidents.

However, at last, the problem is solved. I have the new name. It works. I’ll introduce you another time when it has settled in a bit. I just need to change it throughout the text (fine), and remove some convoluted passages that existed mainly to accommodate the old name, and then develop all the good stuff that flows from the new name.

All systems go. No problem. So why isn’t it happening?

Night shifts. Family. Buying shoes. Making the tea. Cleaning the bog. How do you fit in bright-eyed clear-minded writing time?

(I know, I know… You just stop whingeing and get on with it.)

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Filed under My Writing