Brian Conaghan was born in 1971. He was raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives and works as a teacher in Dublin. He is the author of The Boy Who Made It Rain and When Mr. Dog Bites, and has a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. Over the years Brian has made his dosh as a painter and decorator, a barman, a DJ, an actor, a teacher and now a writer. He currently lives in Dublin with two beauties who hinder his writing: his wife Orla and daughter Rosie.
Hello Brian, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It is an honor for me. Please, tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Scotland, but now live in Dublin with my wife and daughter. I spent many years as a teacher but now work as a fulltime writer. My potted history is actually on the back of the book, which you have covered in question 4. I’m 42 and have never been to jail.
Do you read books? What book(s) are you reading at present? Do you prefer paper/hard backs or E-books?
I tend to read a lot of non-fiction books as well as multi-genre fiction. At present I am reading Tenth of December by George Saunders. I am most definitely a paperback reader.
If you have to name one book and one writer who inspires you, who would be and why?
That’s a difficult one! Possibly Catcher in the Rye because of the genius of Salinger’s writing and the brilliant central character that is Holden Caulfield. But no one writer inspires me.
You have worked as a painter and decorator, an actor, a teacher and few other professions. Now you’re a writer. What made you a writer, and when did you realize that writing was where your future lay?
Nothing made me be a writer. It was in me to write, so I wrote. I didn’t really want to be a writer until I was in my twenties, but I quickly realized that it takes hard work, lots of rejection and hours of endeavour. I was prepared to do that to get what I wanted.
Was your own Tourette’s syndrome the reason you wrote When Mr. Dog Bites?
No, it was a case of write what you know, what you are close to, what you have some authority over so you can tell the story as accurately as possible.
Did you enjoy writing from the point of view of a sixteen year old? Was it difficult?
My previous book The Boy Who Made it Rain was about teenagers also so it wasn’t too difficult. I also used to teach in secondary school so I was used to hearing how teenagers spoke and seeing how the developed.
The character of Dylan Mint is a bit rowdy in his language. The book has got some good humor and a strong emotional understanding of relationships for the teenagers. With such kind of language, was it not your priority to target teenage readers?
The ‘rowdy’ language in the book is wholly justified. That’s the reality of Dylan’s life and the reality of teenage life where he’s from. To cut out the bad language from the text would have been misrepresenting the honesty and integrity of the characters. If people think it’s too much for them to deal with then it’s easy: stop reading and fire the book into a corner.
How did you find the title: When Mr. Dog Bites?
I wish I could take credit for it, but sadly I can’t. It was suggested to me from a agent who gad read it. I liked it and used it.
Your first book, The Boy Who Made it Rain & When Mr. Dog Bites, share similar genre. Do you want to stay in the genre or are you itching to try something different?
In terms of writing YA fiction I think I shall hang about for a while yet, it’s an enjoyable world to be in. I have written some unpublished adult novels which are very different from the aforementioned.
Do you read reviews of your own books, online? Like on Goodreads.com?If yes, why?
I have read a few, some have been sent by my publisher and some have been alerted to me online. I am happy to get a nice review obviously, but with all creative work there will be indifferent reviews. That’s important because it acknowledges the diversity of what people like and don’t like to read.
What did you bribe yourself with to make yourself write? How do you stay when writing, “distraction free”?
I bribe myself with films, football and food. The three Fs. The biggest distraction is the internet, so that’s why I head to the library or the coffee shop when I need to get something done.
I always believe the taste of music of a character is the taste of his master, the author. You have got good taste Brian. Any favorite bands, singers, musicians?
Loads. Music is a huge passion of mine and I try to get bands I like into the books. I am a huge fan of The Smiths and Bob Dylan. At the moment I am writing to the sounds of John Murry and Titus Andronicus.
What are you working at the moment? When can we see your next work?
I have recently completed a novel centering around two friends and what lengths they are willing to go to preserve that friendship. I have also finished a book about one of the characters in When Mr Dog Bites. I think the next book should be out next year, hopefully.
A WRITING LIFE
Where do you write?
In my spare bedroom, the local library or the local coffee shop
You prefer, Pen or Computer?
Always a computer, but I take written notes
Do you have any writing rituals?
Always have the perfect music lined up as I write. Something that suits the mood I’m in or the mood the character I am writing is in.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play guitar, watch movies, exercise.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up, especially when you receive insurmountable rejections. Expect that to happen, but NEVER throw in the towel if you believe in your own ability.
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