Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, July 25, 2016


There's a moment in Place of Safety where Brendan meets back up with Colm, his boyhood buddy who's become part of the Provisional IRA, and they have a frank, brutal discussion about the situation in Derry in April 1981. And I'm having one hell of a time with it.
It takes place at GrianĂ¡n Ailigh, the circle fort atop a hill in Donegal, just across the Irish border. The fort's 5000 years old, by some estimates, and overlooks Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle. Derry is visible from its southeastern edge, being but 6 miles away. This is where Brendan gets stoned, for the first time, with Danny at the age of 13. He brings Joanna here to discuss leaving Derry's troubles behind, at the age of 16. And now, at 25, he comes here to...well, I'm not sure what's going on, yet.

In the first pass, he came to tell Colm he wanted to join up and fight back against the British and RUC. But that just lay there. It's too typical. In the next draft, he points out the futility of fighting the British, who have vastly superior firepower and are too stubborn to give in unless there is a way for them to pretend to save face. But that's preachy and too laden with 20/20 hindsight.

I've tried another version where it's almost like him coming full circle in his life...but from what to what? A child to a man? He does that in Houston, and much more powerfully. At the moment, it's like even he doesn't know what's going on in his life, just now. I know one line is out of place, but I'm not sure how to shift it to the right spot and still work in its buildup. The rest is like lines of cooked spaghetti laid out and twisting around when I want to make everything neat and straight.

I don't know what I'm missing...what I'm not seeing...because I know this moment has to come now, in the story. It has to quake the reader like a 9.5, where the ground under them becomes like Jello and the world shifts into full danger. I need honesty in this moment...and betrayal...and understanding...and history...and reality...

That's not asking for much, is it?

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