Brian Conaghan

MrDogCarnegieYou’re in for a treat. Well, to be fair, I’m the one in for the treat because I get to interview Brian Conaghan whose Carnegie shortlisted novel WHEN MR DOG BITES was my number one favourite read of 2014. It’s funny, warm, and original, as well as being a perfect page turner. The cleverest and most true YA novel I had read in years. 

I met Brian in March this year and although he mercilessly ridiculed me for a myriad of reasons, I’m so glad we did meet because since then, we have become firm friends! If you haven’t read WHEN MR DOG BITES, go and do it today! And if you ever meet Brian, tell him I said he was a *&^%$#!

Hello Brian!! How are things today? 

Things are going well Sarah, just enjoying the wonderful Irish summer as I gaze out my window and wonder if the Sun even exists.

So… WHEN MR DOG BITES is a bit sweary. Give me one good reason why that was necessary *gives Brian the mum look*. 

Something tells me you would have asked that question. OK, here goes: The swearing is integral to Dylan, the main character’s, voice primarily because he suffers from a pretty severe level of Tourette’s Syndrome, which makes him swear at regular intervals. The other reason why there is so much profanity in WHEN MR DOG BITES is because I wanted to be truthful and representative of the many characters within the book; for me it was about authenticity and without being honest to the parlance of where the book is set I would have lost that authenticity and, therefore, created a distortion of that setting and character.

I would like to state at this time that I, myself, do not swear!

And can you give me one reason why you think this book deserves shelving in the YA section of the library? 

Brian-ConaghanIf the suggestion is that due to the amount of swearing in my book libraries would be reluctant to place it in their YA section then my heart goes out to the poor, dear soul who made that decision. I can honestly say that it doesn’t bother me. Teenagers who read are bright little things, they’ll find my book one way or another.

If you could only save one character from WHEN MR DOG BITES from a fire, who would it be and why?  

It used to be Dylan Mint because he’d always remind me to look positively on things, he’d make me laugh and hug me when my chips were down. But, now, I’m not so sure. I’m leaning towards Michelle Malloy, who I think would need me more than Dylan does. Also I’ve recently finished a novel where Michelle takes center stage.

What’s the one physical thing you need in your life to be able to write well?

I’m having two: My stereo and my guitar. All those thinking minutes/hours/weeks/months are best punctuated by music…although I am a shocking guitar player.

And what’s the one immaterial thing that makes writing easier? 

Knowing that I am doing a job that genuinely I love. What other job allows you to go for a swim, coffee, jog, shopping, the cinema, to meet friends, watch Come Dine With Me any time you want?

And your one biggest distraction when trying to get words onto paper?

That bloody thing Tim Berners-Lee invented

One book: Agota Kristof’s supreme trilogy The Notebook, The Proof and The Third Lie (WHAT? It’s all in ONE book)

One album: Bod Dylan: Blood On The Tracks, The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead, Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake And It’s Morning…Please, Please, Please can I have ALL three?

One TV series:  All the seasons of the magical Scottish sitcom STILL GAME

One luxury item: A bed. Can’t be sleeping in no sand.

One person: Bear Grylls because a man has to eat something (I’m not suggesting that I eat Bear…however…)

Access to one website: Really? We’re doing this? Ok, I’ll play the game: The Guardian’s Website

And finally, tell us what’s out next. Tell us… tell us!!!

I have a new YA novel out in 2016 called THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER.