Friday, April 18, 2014

GUEST POST | Born & Bred by Peter Murphy

Danny Boyle was a born angel.
At least that’s what his granny used to say, and she should know – she raised him after his parents proved incapable. When she becomes ill, Danny is reunited with his parents but they do not get to live happily ever after, as the ghosts of the past haunt their days. And when the old woman dies, all of her secrets come to light and shatter everything Danny believes in.
In the turmoil of 1970’s Ireland, an alienated Danny gets into drugs and is involved in a gangland killing. Duped by the killers into leaving his prints on the gun, Danny needs all the help his friends and family can muster. Calling in favors from bishops and priests, police and paramilitaries, God and the devil, the living and the dead, they do all that they can. But even that might not be enough.
BORN & BRED is the first novel in the Life & Times Trilogy, a cycle of three novels that will chart the course of one star-crossed life. It is a work of vibrant imagination from a poetic novelist of the first order.
Read an excerpt here.

Praise for BORN & BRED

“Do you like Irish novels, with love of family, romance, humor and a feel for Dublin and Ireland as a whole?? Then this book is a must read!!”
– Celtic Lady Reviews

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What inspired you to write this book?

A few years back, I was having dinner with my family in Dublin when the conversation turned to a recent gangland killing of an alleged drug-dealer. The consensus was somewhere between relief that there was one less gun-toting criminal at large, to sympathy and regret for yet another wasted life.
On the way back to my hotel, the old Phil Ochs song, There But For Fortune, kept running through my mind. That, and wondering about all that might have led that young man from his mother’s arms to lying dead in a ditch. Was there no one who could have intervened or were there many whose efforts had been in vain?
Sadly, in Dublin and beyond, tragic events like this are very commonplace and rarely command little more than a mention in the media.
For me, stories like these are among the most essential. I am a firm believer that a civil society must be judged by how it treats all of its people and in particular, those who have been marginalized or disadvantaged through circumstances over which they have so little control.
As a writer of fiction—one of the few truths we have left, in my opinion—I wanted to tell a story that might explore how things like this could happen. I cannot believe that anyone is born “bad” and in Born & Bred I wanted to try to tell the story of a young life blown off course.
Whether my character, Danny Boyle, was the architect of his own misfortunes or the hapless victim of the actions and reactions of others is for the reader to decide. I just wanted to tell a story that might bring to mind how unsure the path of life can be, despite the best intentions of everyone involved.
In a world of “informed opinions”—usually presented to lead to a foregone conclusion—I think fiction writers have a special place. A well-written story can take the reader deep into the hearts and minds of protagonists and antagonists, alike.
When reading fiction, a reader can cheer for the good and anticipate the bad getting “theirs” in the end, but they also get a chance to empathize and understand so many things that might normally be overlooked, or dismissed.
Through fiction, lives that are so easy to portray as black and white can be shown to be much more nuanced, complicated and much harder to judge. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Crime and Punishment, Catcher in the Rye, and A Clockwork Orange all spring to mind and, while not suggesting I’m in such company, I wanted my story to be about some of those who have been vilified and dismissed without due consideration.

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