with David Brennan:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
David: . I started writing stories when I was a kid. I was hugely influenced by adventure books like Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Sir Arthur, Irish Mythological stories like The Fenian Cycle. In high school I got into Emily Dickenson, Keats, John Milton, Rimbaud and anything I could lay my hands on.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
David: Biggest influence today, uum, this is difficult to narrow down. Recently, I’m into Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian is a timeless masterpiece. Roberto Bolano’s 2666 is another epic novel of dizzying excellence. I really loved A brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. As always, there are the classics like the KJV of the Old Testament which is a serious piece of inspiration.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your writing/describe?
David: I grew up in the countryside of rural Ireland back in the eighties. There was no shortage of stories, poetry and songs, many of which I heard in pubs. I read voraciously. I left Ireland when I was 26 and I spent twelve years in Tokyo. I currently live in China and have lived here for three years. Japan has had a huge influence on me. I really started writing there and performing at poetry readings.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
David: I think the most meaningful work I have done is my first novel, published in 2019 by epoque press in the UK www.epoquepress.com Most of it was written quickly in a creative flurry, but it took a while to mould that into shape. It has been describe as a highly original and unique work with a very unusual voice. I think the imagery and language in that work are something out of the ordinary.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?
David: I don’t think there was any pivotal moment for me, but somehow I always sensed that I would be a writer, ever since I was a kid. I don’t know where this came from – perhaps from the magic I found in books from an early age. Publishing my first novel was a big step in proving to myself that I might not be wasting my time. There are other moments like that, publishing a first story or poem, getting longlisted and/or shortlisted for a competition, winning a competition. Writing is a lonely long journey and I’m not in it for fame and money. Of course, I wish those things might come someday, but I try not to delude myself too much, though some self-delusion is necessary.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
David: Exercising. Playing guitar. Reading, when I get time. Traveling, though I usually just write and keep a routine wherever I go.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
David: I’ve recently been teaching some creative writing classes at the university where I work in China. It has been fun and beneficial. I will do a workshop at the Japan writers festival in October: https://www.xjtlu.edu.cn/en/news/2021/06/creative-writing-competition-an-opportunity-of-polishing-up-your-writing-skills
Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem of yours or others?
David: . “I gets up and cranks the whistling tune to the kettle and the bell of a broken belly.” First line of my novel Upperdown www.epoquepress.com
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
David: In 2016/2017 I joined a small writers group in Cork city Ireland. This was really helpful to my development as a writer. I also won the Frank O ‘ Conor mentorship bursary in 2016 and was mentored by Zuzshi Gardner.
David currently lives in Suzhou. In June 2019 he published his first novel, Upperdown, with epoque press. He was been nominated for the Hennessey Award 2019/2020. He was one of the winners of the Irish Novel Fair 2018. In 2016 he won the Frank O Connor Mentorship Bursary Award and has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story (2017), the Doolin Short Story award, the Curtis Bausse Short story award, the Fish Memoire (2018) and longlisted for the Fish Memoire prize (2016 & 2017) and the Colm Tobin Award (2017). He has also published stories and poems in Epoque Press ,Number 11, Memoryhouse, The Ogham Stone, Crabfat, Tokyo Poetry Journal and Jungle Crows (a Tokyo anthology). He is currently working on a forthcoming collection of stories and a second novel.