Today in the Library we have Paul Kestell, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.
You are very welcome, Paul, please introduce yourself:
Hi, I started writing when I was very young … but I was shy and I didn’t really come out till my final years in secondary school, when I made the school magazine with a few stories in the flash fiction genre before it was ever invented. I started writing novels when I was forty-six after a sudden illness forced me to change almost everything in my life. I went to live in a small fishing village in West Cork …. where I wrote Viareggio, and Wood Point, both novels, and then two collections of novelettes called The Mad Marys of Dunworley and The West Cork Railway and Other Stories. My reviews have been very good but not good enough to tempt a mainstream publisher to take me on. So I continue to publish under my own imprint Black Cormorant Books, and my new title is ‘Nogginers,’ a series of twelve short stories set where I grew up in Sallynoggin.
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?
I love novels. A favourite is ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne,’ it was a good movie too. I tend to read when I am not writing which is never so I am lucky to read one or two novels a year.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
I publish all through my own imprint Black Cormorant Books.
Which genre do you write in and why?
I didn’t know I was confined to a genre but my books are adult fiction not because of too much sex or violence, but my themes are very adult I hope.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
James Joyce not because I have read all of his work or pretend to understand him but he taught me to inject passion into words.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Yes, very much. The wind blowing in neoliberalism has made me very angry. I fear greatly for my country.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
Editing and I don’t like it as it fries my brain. Why do people seek such order?
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
No. I write at different times of the day but I love writing at night when all else is asleep.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best thing is when people say something kind about your work. The worst is when you realise that very few people have actually read what you painstakingly put together. Using my own imprint I find it almost impossible to get reviews. Books are like any other product – they need media support to become popular. The literary world is narrow, very middle-class and full of nepotism but hey, I am not bitter – not much.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I do Twitter and Facebook, but I use them to air my political views as much as to promote my books.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I think I would be dead.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Dubliners by James Joyce what a way to finish … reading The Dead.
Please tell us about your latest published work:
The book brings us on a fictional journey through the writer’s early years and into adolescence, the spectre of manhood and responsibility though inevitable, is feared almost like death, thus we arrive at disaffected adulthood in stories like ‘Blood’.
The stories are full of humour but are tainted by the biting reality of growing up in a working class Corporation estate.
This barren world is brought to life in stories like ‘The Messenger Boy’ and ‘Workers’, intertwined with an innocence, and the power of childhood imagery and imagination.
There are some stark stories to tell as in ‘Hate Lessons,’ and ‘Corpus Christi,’ the writer enters our souls percutaneously but he also entertains us with the funny ‘The Posh Party,’ and ‘Weekly with Mrs Tims.’
It is no doubt that he has scrubbed his own soul clean when you read ‘Visits,’ and ‘Davids Room,’ but for sheer angst ‘Betty Drew,’ will be hard to beat but perhaps the earlier innocence of ‘Frogs,’ may compete with the final story ‘Leaving,’ to leave us with a true reflection on working class life during this period.
Paul’s book is available now on Amazon.