Today in the Library we have PJ Connolly, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.
You are very welcome PJ, please introduce yourself:
A child of the forties I was born before the outbreak of the Second World War and one of my earliest memories is the drone of German bombers over Dublin and the terror of my parents as they watched the night sky lit with flames. Later I fled the moral dangers of the world, hiding away in monastic silence while I trained for the Catholic priesthood.
When I abandoned that dream I settled into a lifetime of counselling, working as careers advisor in a convent school just outside Dublin.
It was only following my early retirement that I took up fiction writing.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
Oddly enough I read little or no fiction growing up. I read the books put into my hands by adults attempting to influence my development along strict religious lines. Later in life I preferred books of popular science, history, philosophy, astronomy and so on.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Both. My first novel, The Priest’s Wife, was brought out by Wings ePress in the U.S.
With my recent novel, Children of Isaac, I made the decision to bypass the long lead-in periods of the publishing houses. It was important for me to get the book out in time for the 1916 commemoration.
Which genre do you write in and why?
Fiction set in recent times. Children of Isaac, set in the early decades of the twentieth century, could reasonably be described as Historical Fiction.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
James Joyce has been an undoubted influence. I’m an admirer of Margaret Attwood and was influenced to some extent by James Plunkett’s Strumpet City.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Without a doubt. So far I’ve clung to the adage, write about what you know.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
Coming up with a plot. My approach is to start writing at random and allow the plot to develop later.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
Ideally I would write late at night when my brain is most active. In practice though, the way to get time to yourself, is to get up early when the house is asleep. When I’m immersed in a novel I get up at six am to write.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
Best thing is the incredible buzz of sharing with God the power to create and destroy people.
The flipside is that the time spent promoting your books could be spent in making a start on the next one.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
Facebook I enjoy. Twitter I find a bit more impersonal.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
Growing tomatoes in the greenhouse.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Teach Yourself to Survive Armageddon.
Please tell us about your latest published work.
My recently published novel is set against the backdrop of the 1916 Rising, a short-lived attempt to overthrow English rule in Ireland.
Set in inner-city Dublin, it reveals the tensions in a marriage torn by religious and political differences as Protestant Isaac and Catholic Annie raise their four children against a background of deceit and subterfuge.
If you want to know more about PJ or his books please click on the links below: