Home is where the writing is. An interview with David Pearson.
Author David Pearson is well travelled, but he writes about where his heart is: Ireland.
TBF: Your books are set around the west coast of Ireland and in Galway and in Connemara in particular. What is your attraction to or connection to the area?
DP: Apart from the magnificent scenery, the place has an amazing atmosphere. Walking by the beaches, trekking up the mountains or just crossing the bog is inspirational for me. To me the place is unique. I have been visiting Connemara since I was sixteen, when we used to go camping close to the beautiful beaches at Gurteen and Dog’s Bay. Later, I visited the area with my own family, and we quickly tuned in to the relaxed atmosphere of the place. Somehow, a pint of Guinness served in O’Dowds in Roundstone or King’s Bar in Clifden tastes much better than it does in Dublin!
TBF: Has the area changed much over the years?
DP: It has evolved in a few different ways. The drastic de-population that took place in the 1950s and 60s has stopped, and a lot of new homes have been built that are mostly used by people who live in the cities during the summer months. A few industries were tried, but the location on the western tip of Europe went against them, and they largely closed down. Tourism is the main business now, and it draws thousands of people from the UK; Continental Europe and North America in every year. Some craft industries are developing as well, and the region feels a good deal more prosperous than it did previously.
TBF: Have you ever lived outside of Ireland? If so, where?
DP: Yes. I lived in London at the start of the 1970s – I just missed the ‘Swinging Sixties’ but it was enjoyable all the same. I worked in a bar at night where the very colourful characters from parts of the East End showed me a side of life I hadn’t seen before. I have also worked in many different countries including Japan; South Korea; the USA; Norway; Germany; Kuwait and Australia for various periods of time over the years.
TBF: Ireland shares much with the UK, but our stories have also been divergent and at times antagonistic, to say the least. What would you say the main differences are between the two islands?
DP: Apart from the obvious one of size (63 million vs under 5 million), the culture is very different. Ireland is really two countries – there’s Dublin and then there’s the rest. Rural Ireland, which relies heavily on agriculture, has a very strong community ethos that was dominated by the Catholic church up to recently. But that’s changing of late. Politically, Ireland is not anything like as polarized as Great Britain. Two centre right parties dominate the political landscape – the separation between the two can be traced back to the Civil War at the end of Ireland’s declaration of independence from Britain in 1923 when we became a Republic – with left wing parties being very much in the minority. At present, because of BREXIT, the two main parties have come together to govern the country, a spectacle that would be hard to envisage in the UK!
TBF: Where do you get your ideas for your stories? Surely there can’t be that many murders out there in the sticks?
DP: I’m sure there aren’t! But knowing the area well, and the pace and nature of the people who live there, it struck me that Connemara would make a great setting for dastardly deeds. Much like ‘Shetland’ which I am sure is also much less crime infested than the TV series suggests.
TBF: Tell us a little about your background. What did you do before writing fiction?
DP: I have been a project manager in Financial Services (Insurance; Banking) for many years which I came to after an early career in IT, or Electronic Data Processing as it used to be called. Project Management taught me a number of things that I have been able to transfer into my writing career – particularly the value of planning. It has also given me some broad knowledge of how banking and IT systems work, which I have put to good use in the books.
TBF: You seem to know about planes too. Have you got your wings?
DP: No, but I am a keen commercial aviation enthusiast. I spent my early working years in the package holiday business which involved flying around Europe in some rather shaky old aircraft. I was finding it a bit scary, so I went and researched exactly how a jet aeroplane works, and I got hooked on it from there. Your older readers will remember fabulous old machines such as the Comet; the VC-10 and the venerable BAC 1-11. Believe me, you haven’t really flown till you’ve travelled in an East African Airways Super VC-10 from Nairobi to London!
TBF: Name some literary influences. What are you reading at the moment?
DP: I’ve just finished a book by Pete Brassett which I found entertaining and well crafted. I also read Anna Willett; Anne Crosse; Ann Cleeves; Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin. I have been influenced by Ann Cleeves, particularly in the form of her Vera and Shetland TV series.
TBF: If your Galway Homicides series made it into film or TV, who would be the ideal actors for Maureen Lyons and Mick Hays?
DP: That’s a hard one. Rather than naming names, a pairing such as DCI Perez and DS McIntosh from the series Shetland would be the types I would aim for. Jimmy Perez is a little dour for Hays, and perhaps a bit young, but a slightly more cheerful version of him would be good. Think Lewis (Kevin Whately) without his Geordie accent, and maybe Clare Price (Rebus’ side-kick) for Lyons if Alison O’Donnell wasn’t available.
TBF: Tell us about your work in progress.
DP: Having completed, for the moment, the Galway Homicide series, I am now working on a new crime-fiction series that will be set in Dublin, and be grittier than the Galway series. There still won’t be serious amounts of gratuitous violence and gore, but the language will be a bit more ‘fruity’, reflecting Dubliners’ frequent use of the vernacular.
TBF: There is no doubt a fair amount more crime there. But we’re assuming these will be murder mysteries too? Why do you think this genre is so popular?
DP: I think the cosy style of crime fiction that I write entertains people. They like to see everything coming to a satisfactory ending with wrong-doers put away and the victims avenged. It appeals to folks’ sense of what’s right. The books are also a diversion from people’s own issues – a distraction, if you will. The people who leave me reviews also say that they identify with the characters and enjoy following the ups and downs that they encounter during the story.
TBF: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
DP: Yes. Write – that’s what writers do. Don’t think about it for ages – write it down. Get it onto the page. Write often and keep writing!