A brief, colourful career as a barrister gave writer Andrew Nugent some tangible material for his later carer as bestselling crime fiction writer. Following The Four Courts Murder (2005), Soul Murder (2009), Second Burial for a Black Prince (2010), 1968: Memoir and Murder introduces us to a tale of two adventurous youths whose hitchhiking trip in France turns dark. Andrew Nugent, a Benedictine monk, who now resides in Glenstal Abbey, has answered some question on his new novel for us here...
Read about 1968: Memoir and Murder on our homepage here.
You've described 1968: Memoir and Murder as an autobiographical memoir. Did you approach writing it very differently from your previous books – which are more standard novels?
I described 1968 as an autobiographical memoir. Yes. That was after I had written it. There is a lot of me in whatever I write. John McGahern has said, "I write to know what I am thinking". A novel of any depth is a journey of self-discovery. But 1968 is the novel where I could most truly say, "Been there. Done that." On the other hand, in terms of literary skills or techniques or disciplines necessary, the requirements are much the same for any piece of writing.
The Second World War still casts a long shadow over authors– and readers – nearly 70 years after it ended. Why do you think this is?
The World Wars 1914–1918 and 1939–1945 were a modern phenomenon, made possible by applied science to weaponry, and with unprecedented and unimaginable capacities for destruction. "Those who forget the lessons of History are condemned to relive them." Let us be glad of that long shadow. It is our safeguard.
Although 1968 is set in the postwar period, it has a modern feel. Was this intentional?
I think it was inevitable. I am writing from the perspective of a survivor who lives in a real world and, therefore, in a modern world.
As a fourth time novelist, does the writing process get any easier, or more enjoyable? What's the most important learning process in writing you can divulge that you've experienced?
Who is it that said, "each poem is a wholly new beginning – and a different kind of failure." A bit rueful! I have learnt that "it is the Singer, not the Song."
This is my kind of singing and, yes, I enjoy it, and I am grateful to God, and to people who allow me to do it, even though, with age, I suppose, I must be increasingly singing out of tune.
How much of the story in the novel is fiction and how much is memoir?
How much is fiction, and how much is memoir? How much is fact, and how much is feeling? Are they the same question?
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
Occupational Hazards? When a boy told me that he wanted to study music, I said to him, "Man, you’ll starve!" His answer was immediate, "I don’t care!"
I was really grateful to that boy.The only other hazard I can think of is to take myself too seriously, and become a crashing old bore.
What's your favourite book?
Usually the book I am reading now (with some hideous exceptions).
1968: Memoir and Murder is out now in all good bookshops, and is also available to buy directly from us, online. Alternatively, call into us in person, say hello, and buy the book from Liberties Upstairs with an additional euro off the retail price!