Radio Ireland is a new novel by Kevin Mahon, a Canadian who now calls Austin, Texas home, but his family roots are in Ireland. His father grew up on Dublin's northside.
Kevin's novel is initially set in Austin, Texas, but moves quickly to Dublin. The author skillfully portrays Brendan Daly, the main character, with a perfect balance of gravity and humor.
Brendan leaves his past behind in search of a new life in Dublin. This is a story of discovery, home coming, and new beginnings, interwoven with the difficult subjects of grief, and depression.
Kevin has graciously offered a copy of his book for one reader to win. Before we share the giveaway, let's first delve into Radio Ireland a little further, plus I have a lovely interview with Kevin to share with you.
Here's the jacket cover piece, or book blurb to introduce you to the Radio Ireland story line...
Radio Ireland - Book Premise:
"After the passing of his father, Brendan decides to leave North America behind and begin a new life as a rock radio host in his family's ancestral home of Dublin.
But when Brendan arrives he discovers that Rory, his co-host and lifelong friend, is missing. In a moment of inspiration, Brendan invents an unexpected co-host who takes Dublin by storm and invites him to confront his past.
What results is an emotionally charged and heartfelt tale that combines laugh-out-loud stories with bittersweet episodes and an ending you won't soon forget."
Brendan arrives in Dublin, having never visited his father's hometown before. He's at a crossroads, having just suffered the loss of his father in Austin, Texas. He never knew his mother, who died when Brendan was born.
Without his father he has no ties to Texas, and upon arriving in Dublin he immediately feels a sense of coming home, recognizing places from his father's stories.
Radio Ireland feels raw and personal from the very first page. The pace and pathos of the conversational prose is true to Irish culture, and the scenes in Dublin are pitch perfect. This book makes the reader feel part of a warm, honest and heart-rending confessional.
The language and dialogue are real, with plenty true-to-life Irish cursing, without which the plot would lose its authenticity. We've previously discussed the Irish love of forceful 'adjectives.'
Some of the editing in Radio Ireland is imperfect, but for me, that made the book all the more genuine and poignant. In Ireland, perfection is definitely not overrated. Minor grammatical errors simply made me feel like I too was part of a fast paced and absorbing bar conversation.
And so, let me hand you over to Kevin, for our online interview. His answers confirm he's truly an Irish man, and would enjoy a good chat in a pub over a pint of the black stuff.
An Interview With Kevin Mahon:
Mairéad, what an honor it is to have my new novel, Radio Ireland, now be a part of this great community that you’ve assembled here on Irish American Mom!
I’m looking forward to answering some of your questions about the book – let’s get to it:
Why did you choose an Irish theme and setting for your book?
The thing to understand about this book is that it was written as a way for me to document so many personal stories, funny conversations, and heartbreaking moments that came out of being brought up in a predominantly Irish household in the Toronto area of Canada.
I implanted all these true experiences of being brought up somewhat Irish into a fictional storyline.
Do you have family ties to Ireland?
My father and his five brothers were born and raised on the north side of Dublin in an area called Cabra West to hard working Irish Catholic parents. It is here in Cabra West that the majority of my story takes place.
What traits do you think make your main characters typically Irish?
I love this question! And the answer is humor. As the main character in the book, Brendan, explains, “up until the age of about eleven I swore my name was y’schoopid feckin eejit-ya”.
Much of the humor in the book comes from Brendan’s ability to imitate his Irish father and that very specific comedy that I would argue is indigenous to the Irish.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Off the top of my head it would have to be a tie between Sesame Street’s There’s a Monster at The End of This Book and The Hardy Boys series. (…and if I’m being totally honest, There’s a Monster at The End of This Book is probably still one of my favorites.)
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Writing the truth. It’s far too easy to avoid difficult subjects in your work. With Radio Ireland, I set true stories from my life, some very difficult to come to terms with, into a fictional storyline.
Writing it as fiction made it far less intimidating to write, as opposed to the vulnerability one would have writing a non-fictional autobiography of sorts.
To put it plainly, writing this book as fiction allowed me the license to be comedic, yet very truthful about personal hardships in dealing with the likes of alcoholism and death.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I used my first trip to Ireland as the basis of this book. And so much of what the main character, Brendan, experiences upon arriving in Ireland is directly taken from what I experienced.
What was your most difficult scene in the book to write?
Without a doubt, it was writing the two scenes that deal with the death of Brendan’s parents. In order to make those scenes as believable as possible I forced myself to go back to those two days when I lost my parents relatively young and relive even the smallest of details. I have to admit that I got quite emotional writing those scenes.
The loss of my father was a turning point in my life and the loss of my mother is something that I still haven’t allowed myself to come to terms with. On top of that, I lost my little brother as I was preparing to publish this work.
Death is a theme of this book, but the magic of the Irish is that they can find humor, even in death (who wouldn’t want a tombstone that read Now Will You Believe I’m Sick?)
Do you believe in writer’s block? Any tips for overcoming this dreaded obstacle to writing?
This is going to sound bad at first – but you have to be a voyeur! People watching is paramount for writers and actors.
Sit at a bar and describe the scene in front of you right down to the guy tapping lightly on the rim of his glass of beer to the music.
Strip away all the pretense and mirror the humanity around you in your words. It will make your work real and relatable to the reader – no matter the genre. I don’t write at a desk in a room. I prefer to write out in the world where I can take in everything around me and feed it into the story.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’ve achieved it. Someone read my book and wrote to me to let me know that they laughed out loud at points, cried at points, and found it therapeutic with regards to dealing with their loss of a parent.
My little story had an impact on someone - What more could an author ask for?
Where can readers find your books for purchasing? Do you have a website and can readers follow you on social media?
A quick google search of Radio Ireland Kevin Mahon will find it.
Thank you so much for letting me ramble on a bit about my new novel. It’s been a pleasure! I would invite anyone that has read the story to reach out to me about it. I would absolutely love to answer any questions or hear any comments you may have.
To enter simply leave a comment on this blog post by noon Eastern Time on Saturday, July 18th, 2020.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not tell us about your family connection's to Ireland, or why you enjoy books set in Ireland.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Saturday, July 18th, 2020, at the bottom of this blog post.
You can check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries here.
Many thanks to everyone for stopping by to learn about this new book, set in Dublin. And a big thank you to Kevin for participating in this online interview, and for sharing his work with us today.
Update – Winner Chosen On July 18th, 2020:
Our winner has been randomly chosen using the Pick Giveaway Winner Plug-in for WordPress.
And the lucky reader is ….
I'll send Peggy an email to arrange mailing of her prize. A big thank you to everyone for supporting this giveaway by leaving comments. And many thanks to Kevin, for sharing his book with us.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
Disclosure: I received a free, electronic copy of this book for review purposes. This post reflects my honest and unbiased thoughts about this work, Radio Ireland.
Text copyright 2020 by Kevin Mahon.
Excerpts and photos reproduced with permission of the author.
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