It’s been a funny old week…

On Wednesday I won the Creative Flow Poet of the Year Award on Dundalk FM and then on Friday, just before lunchtime, I got a call telling me that Original Writing (who published my novel The Rising Son) were going to cease trading at 4.30pm that afternoon. I’m still not 100% sure what all the implications are for me and the book at the moment .

For now the main thing to know is that if you want to buy a copy of The Rising Son please go to my website (www.briankirkwriter.com ) and order it there.

I know I will probably never see whatever royalties I might be due up to this point, but I’m keen that the book will continue to reach as large an audience as possible. Since the launch in mid December the book has sold over 500 copies and I’ve received great notices and reviews and huge amount of positive feedback from readers. On the bright side, I own the rights, I have the text and cover image files and I have a printer in place who can produce copies for me. Distribution is the big issue now. So if you are a publisher or if you know a publisher, perhaps you might consider taking the book on. It’s ready to go; there are no costs beyond future printing costs and the book has a ready market with schools and libraries around the country. Later this month I’ll be doing my first library and school visits.

Please contact me if you think you might be able to help me with this. All advice is welcome as I’m still trying to process the events of Friday. Thanks for reading this and please feel free to share! Brian

Press Relase – The Rising Son

Here’s the press release for The Rising Son. I’ve been getting quite a bit of press coverage in recent times following my appearance on Liveline with Joe Duffy on 21st December 2015. Since then I’ve done radio interviews with Dundalk FM, Kildare FM and Dublin South FM. You can listen back to the Dublin South FM interview with Fiona Kenny here.

The Echo newspaper gave me a really good half page spread last week and reviews have been coming in also.

Mia, aged 12, reviewed the novel very positively over at Bleach House Library and there are three five star reviews on Amazon. Fellow author James Lawless gave me a big endorsement over at his blog also.

The result of all this positivity is that I now have distribution for the novel via Argosy Books who are Ireland’s only independent book wholesaler. So any bookshops out there who may not have The Rising Son in stock, please order it now from Argosy.

For any schools or libraries out there wishing to buy copies you can order them from IES Ltd in Leixlip, Book Haven or The Book Nest in Sligo.

Otherwise, please ask for it at your local book shop, go to Original Writing, Amazon UK or buy a copy here on my site.

I will be doing the first of my library/school visits in February which I’m really looking forward to. If you want me to visit your school or library please contact me through the web site.

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive so far on this journey through publication. I’m really grateful for all the help and advice I’ve received. I’ve learned more in the last two months than I ever wanted to know about sales, marketing and distribution.

The Rising Son now available here

You can now buy your copy of The Rising Son directly from me here for €12 including delivery. Please click on the cover image link on the right hand side of this page and you can pay via Paypal. Please remember to include your full postal address details.

 

 

 

So Long 2015 – a quick review

Every year I do up a list of achievements in terms of publications and awards received during the year and this year is no different. Also this year I did some really enjoyable readings – Over The Edge in Galway during the summer, Canalaphonic in Rathmines Library in May with some of my fellow Hibernian poets and others, and Staccato in Toner’s in November, which is a great new literary and musical night out launched this year by those talented pair, Tanya Farrelly and David Butler.

The highlight for me this year was publishing The Rising Son which I hope will continue to sell well during 2016. I’ve had huge support since the book came out and I hope to do some readings further afield in 2016 and visit some schools also to talk a little about the history and the book itself and why I wrote it etc. So plenty to look forward to there.

I am also pleased to say that work on my first poetry collection is now complete! It just remains for me to try and get it published this year. Getting highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award again this year was a great boost, as was winning the Bailieborough Poetry Prize. My poetry group The Hibernians continues to push me to create better and better work and the publication of our anthology The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work was a huge achievement this year.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not all beer and skittles and successes. There were plenty of rejections and far more failures than successes in terms of competitions, and there was also the blunt and sickening realisation that a novel I’d been working for years (a project to which I’d devoted an awful lot of precious time) was dead on the surgeon’s table with no hope of resuscitation. But there’s no point in dwelling on the bad stuff – here’s the good stuff:

So after a refreshing Christmas break it’s onwards again! Bring on 2016!

The Rising Son – how to get a copy

It was a great boost to appear on Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE Radio 1 yesterday and speak a little about The Rising Son. You can listen back to the show here - I come in at about 35 minutes.

People have been asking how to get their hands on a copy, so here’s the low down: The Rising Son is now available from Original Writing, Amazon (also available on Kindle), Alan Hanna’s Rathmines, Antonia’s Bookstore in Trim, Company of Books in Ranelagh, The Village Bookshop in Terenure and Rathgar Books. Any bookshop wishing to stock it can order copies from Original Writing.

Anyone out there with any advice on how to get it into other book stores please get in touch. So far so good, but lots more to do in the new year! Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far. Happy Christmas!

The Rising Son Launch 14th December 2015

Reading from The Rising Son

I want to thank every one who came along on Monday night to the launch. I was overwhelmed by the numbers and the support I received from everybody. I am particularly grateful to former Dublin City Arts Officer, Jack Gilligan, who did an excellent job launching the novel for me. Here’s a few photos for those of you who couldn’t make it along on the night. I received loads of texts, emails and supportive messages via social media all week, which is also very much appreciated. The relief is palpable now that the fuss is all over, but I have to say I enjoyed the evening very much.

Here’s me signing the novel for Susan Condon.

There was a great buzz in the room all evening!

Here’s Jack Gilligan doing his thing.

And me again, signing for my brother Ciarán (we never used to look so alike!)

A very happy family at the end of the night!

My thanks also to Pete McCluskey for taking so many wonderful photos on the night and creating a brilliant record of a really important event for me.

Where can I get my hands on a copy, you might ask. Here’s all you need to know.

“The Rising Son” by Brian Kirk is available for purchase now on OriginalWriting.ie, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more details of where you can purchase “The Rising Son”, please contact your local bookshop or info@originalwriting.ie.
Also able as an eBook across all platforms, including Amazon Kindle and Kobo.

Copies available at Rathgar Bookshop and Company of Books in Ranelagh. Please contact Brian Kirk for more information: http://briankirkwriter.com/

The Rising Son, a novel

My novel for children, The Rising Son, can now be bought via the Original Writing website. Just follow the link here. The launch date is looming now and the book will be sold at the discounted price of €10 to all attendees. I hope to see you all then. The ebook / kindle version should be available next week via Amazon and I will post all the relevant links as soon as I get them.

There was a very interesting Guardian article about the power of children’s literature and how it forms our adult view of the world. You can read it here. I like to think my novel will be read by many adults also…

 

Novel Plans 4 – Cover

Here it is folks! The invitation and cover image for The Rising Son which will be launched on 14th December 2015 at the Wood Quay Venue, Dublin 8 by Jack Gilligan, former Dublin City Arts Officer and former board member of the Irish Writers’ Centre. My thanks to the National Library of Ireland who gave permission to use the main cover image and to Steven Weekes at Original Writing who did a great job in getting the cover just right. I hope you like it. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Novel Plans 3

Okay, so the cover is taking a bit longer than we expected. It’s about bridging a gap between then, as shown above, and now in a way that might appeal to a modern reader. Despite years of being told otherwise, apparently everybody judges books by their covers.

So in the meantime I thought I’d introduce you to some of the main characters in The Rising Son. Here follows the opening chapter. I hope you enjoy it and that it whets your appetite for what is still to come.

 

Chapter 1

 On the second night in his grandfather’s house it all began. He was alone on a dark street, lit by occasional dim streetlights. There was a peculiar smell in the grey air, one that he could not name. In fact there was a mixture of smells; bad smells like the stench of farmyards for one, but many more besides. He was surprised to find that he was not afraid to be alone on this alien street. Part of him hoped that this was just a dream, but it felt more real than any dream he’d ever had before.

The street was empty, but in the distance he could hear a noise he thought might be thunder, or heavy barrels being rolled across cobblestones. He had the sense that the day had been hot, but now he felt the cool night air against his face and for a moment he thought of home. But it was just a word. He recognised the word, but he couldn’t attach a place or memory to it in his mind. In fact he couldn’t say where he was from, and in the same breath he realised he did not have a name. But once again the terror he should have felt at that moment was absent. In fact, he was barely there himself.

At the far end of the street he saw a figure approaching. It was a boy, roughly his own age. Jack was puzzled by the boy’s bare feet and strange clothing; knee-length trousers, an old dark jacket that was too big for him, a cap and scarf. The year before his mother had taken him to see a production of Oliver in the West End, and as he watched the boy, he thought of boys his own age acting the roles of Victorian child-villains.

‘Howya! Are ye lost?’

He was so surprised when the boy spoke, he did not answer for a few moments. It was as if he was watching a play, not from the stalls as you normally would, but from the stage itself. But now the boy had burst the magic bubble; he had spoken to a member of the audience and the illusion was shattered.

‘I’m… I suppose I am.’

The boy frowned.

‘Are you English?’

‘Yes, I mean, no – I suppose I’m Irish and English.’

‘You can’t be both these days – it’s one or the other. Come along with me and I’ll bring you where you’re going. Where do you live?’

‘I live with my grandfather, Michael O’Connor. It’s number 52 Haroldville Avenue.’

‘Shur that’s only round the corner, I’ll bring you there now. I’m Willie by the way.’

‘Jack.’

His name came to him as if from a great distance and it comforted him that he had a name again, and that he had a new friend too. They shook hands formally like old men.

‘Come on,’ Willie said.

They set off walking, their footsteps echoing on the empty street.

‘You must a left home in an awful hurry.’

‘What do you mean?’ Jack asked.

‘Them clothes a yours. You must be frozen.’

Jack looked down and saw that he was wearing only a t-shirt and light pyjama trousers with slippers on his feet.

‘Them shoes a yours look awful cosy but.’

‘They are,’ Jack said because he could think of nothing else to say to this strange boy.

They rounded the corner and Jack realised that they were now on his grandfather’s street, but it looked different somehow. Perhaps it was just the darkness; the streetlights gave off so little light and there were no lights on in any of the neighbours’ windows.

Suddenly there was a scattering of shouts at one end of the street and then a deafening high-pitched sound that seemed to echo off the fronts of the terraced houses – a kind of shrill singing or zinging. The air was filled with a new smell now. It was smoke. Jack recognised it straight away because he’d walked past the remnants of a burnt out house with his stepfather on their way to see Arsenal play one Saturday. Both boys threw themselves on the ground instinctively and whatever light there was had now been extinguished. Jack reached out a hand to feel for Willie but felt only the damp cold stone of the road. He shut his eyes tight and opened them again, but there was only darkness. He heard heavy boots running, coming closer, a momentary pause and then more gunfire. He screamed.

He woke in a sweat. The bedclothes were on the floor and he was wrapped only in an old tartan blanket he’d found on top of the wardrobe the night before when he was cold and couldn’t get to sleep. The room smelled of must and damp. There was another smell mixed in there too, he thought it could be smoke. He tried to open the window to let in some air but it was useless; it was painted shut – had been for years. Everything about this house was old and stuffy and reeked of the past.

The day before Jack’s grandfather had taken him into town for a treat. Since his mother had abandoned him he had been quiet and surly. On the way home they rode the tram along the quays until they came to the museum where they walked around the exhibits, and all the while his grandfather provided a constant commentary.

‘You must always remember Jack, that you are an Irish man. You may have been born in London and lived all your twelve years there, but you are as Irish as I am.’

Everything in the museum was old. That’s the way it was with museums – he knew this from trips with his mother to the British Museum and Natural History Museum. But it wasn’t just the museum; the whole city of Dublin seemed old to Jack – compared to London it was tired and small and enclosed, and the grey sky seemed to press down on the rooftops, trapping him, stopping him from being where he wanted to be, in London with his mother and his friends.

His Grandfather showed him the uniforms worn by British and Irish soldiers over the years, sometimes taking the time to read aloud from the information provided on panels beside the exhibits.

‘This is where we all come from Jack. It’s our history. Do you see?’ Grandad looked at the boy.

He was wasting his breath, Jack thought. There was no point to this. It was all in the past. That’s what history was – even he knew that. The past was no good to him. At best it was a distraction from the present. It was the future that worried Jack.

When he thought about the future he could feel his heartbeat race inside his chest and his head would grow light. His mother told him it was just a holiday, that she would be back to get him in a couple of weeks. She had some things to see to, that was all. He was a child, but he was not a fool. She was trying to patch things up with Matt, he knew that. His stepfather had left them a month before. For weeks before that Jack had stood on the landing at night and listened to them arguing. He didn’t know what the cause of their arguments was but he assumed, as children do, that it was his fault. Perhaps Matt didn’t want him; he wanted a boy of his own – he had said that before – but that was never going to happen, Mum said.

Matt wasn’t bad. He had always been good to Jack, and Jack had no expectation of him beyond the things he did for him. He took him to football or cricket practise, he made fried breakfasts on Saturdays and brought him to the Emirates Stadium to see Arsenal play; he called him mate and bought him ice-creams and football magazines. Jack was happy enough with that. But Matt wanted more – that was why he had said on one of those nights when they argued just before he moved out:

‘I want a child of my own, Kate – what’s so wrong with that?’

Jack took deep breaths and put his hand against his heart to feel the pulse quicken as he listened from the landing above.

Was Matt more important to his mother than he was? That was the question he was trying not to ask himself since he came here. When she said goodbye to him she hurried out the door. Her taxi was waiting, and she had a plane to catch. And when she was gone he looked at this old man, this stranger – his grandfather supposedly – and sensed that the old man was looking back at him and thinking the exact same thing.

His mother spoiled him. She indulged him. He came first, he always had done and Jack had grown accustomed to that. Something had changed somehow, but she was not about to tell him what that was or maybe she felt he was too young to understand. But he was not too young. In the absence of hard facts he feared the worst. Perhaps she didn’t want him anymore.

Now as they stood before an original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Jack tried to listen to his grandfather’s commentary, but it was useless. He was thinking about his mother, and about Matt, and what they might be saying at that very moment to each other about him.

‘Is Matt Irish, Grandad?’

‘No, Jack, he’s English.’

‘Is that why he and Mum can’t be together?’

Grandad laughed briefly, but stopped when he noticed Jack’s frowning face.

‘No. No. That has nothing to do with anything. Sometimes people disagree over things. It’s complicated, that’s all. You’ll understand when you’re older.’

The old man placed his hand gently on Jack’s head and ruffled his unruly dark hair. Why did everyone treat him like a baby?

 

 

 

Novel Plans 2

Does this make you think of Scotland? Yes? I thought so. A tartan blanket figures prominently in my 1916/2016 novel and this was an idea I had for an eye-catching cover. I think I’ll have to think again.

The proofing of the novel is now complete and I signed a contract with Original Writing on Friday last. I chose to use them because I don’t have the time to do it all myself and, having met with them, I am convinced by their professionalism and understanding of what I’m trying to achieve. I’m hoping to have the novel ready for late November / early December so there’s not much time to waste. The working title throughout has been Rising but, on advice, I’m changing it to The Rising Son.

As part of the package with Original Writing, The Rising Son will be availble as an e-book also in all formats. More about that later on. For the moment I must go back to my “To Do” list: agree cover design and image, write up acknowledgements, prepare blurb for cover, bio, arrange venue for launch/launches, plan a sales strategy of some sort etc etc. I’m sure it will all work out in the end (he said, hopefully). Once the product is good enough, the rest of this stuff becomes easier I believe.

I’ll leave you for now with a draft of the blurb for The Rising Son, a version of which will eventually appear on the back cover (whatever that cover might be).

One boy. Two worlds.

It’s 2016 and Jack O’Connor, a twelve-year-old London boy, is confused. He is left in the care of a grandfather he never met in a city he doesn’t know by his mother who wants to be left alone. While in Dublin, in his grandfather’s house, Jack is drawn to an old blanket. The blanket belonged to his late grandmother and seems to have magic powers.

It is the week of the centenary of the 1916 Rising and Jack’s grandfather sets out to teach him some history. In doing so he awakens in Jack a sense of his Irish identity. Thanks to the magic of the blanket Jack gets to see the events of the Rising first-hand and, at the same time, he uncovers the truth about his own family, past and present.