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Sex With Sarah

A consultant’s uncomplicated affair with a public service colleague proves anything but.  An intense and compelling short story on the costs and benefits of a sexual affair in the corporate office.

This short story was  written after several years of observation of compelling and extreme behaviour by ambitious individuals within the New Zealand public service. The story, of course, is complete fiction but much of the behaviour is not.

It can be purchased at Amazon.

The Morning After

A short story about an ‘Irish Lothario’ and a middle-aged American woman who awake in an unfamiliar apartment in a foreign city.  They have no recollection of who they are.  Or how they got there.
An hilarious story of two hungover victims struggling to come to grips with the previous night’s excesses.
Not for those of a sensitive nature.

This particular story was actually written after a mind-numbingly bad day at work. As soon as I came home  and sat down to write, the basic tale flowed out onto the page in less than twenty minutes.  It was a wonderful antidote.

This can be purchased at Amazon here

The Ringmaster’s Daughter

“A young woman escaping a dreary existence encounters a ringmaster’s daughter who is too implausible to be true – despite all evidence to the contrary.”

A unique and intriguing tale of magic, lies and female friendship.

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At some stage in our lives we all meet individuals that infatuate us because we see them as fresh and exotic. They might speak with an accent, come from a very different culture that we admire, have striking physical or mental traits. Some people have a whole combination of these attributes so when you meet them, they really have that ability to blow you away, to return you to a time when you believed – in the future, in possibility, in magic, in anything!

Infatuation, of course, has a limited shelf-life. Familiarity breeds contempt – or at least a sense of ‘ho-hum’ – and the ‘exotic’ eventually becomes ‘routine’. When I wrote this particular story, I was trying to imagine what would happen if you met someone who had the ability to rekindle that sense of magic, where the infatuation never really stopped.

It can be purchased at Amazon.

Fionn: The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series Pronunciation

The following tables provide the proper pronunciations for a number of the more common Irish/Gaelic terms you’ll come across in the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series. As a general principle, we use Irish words where relevant and in particular where there are no culturally equivalent terms in English.

Either way, test your own interpretation of the names, place names and other words and let us know if there’s something you think should really, really be in there.

Character NamePronunciation

Aodh (Goll) mac Morna

Aodhán

Bearach

Bodhmhall

Cairbre

Cathal

Clann Baoiscne

Clann Morna

Cónán

Fiacail mac Codhna

Fionn mac Cumhaill

Liath Luachra

Muirne Muncháem

Tréanmór

Tóla
Ultán

 

PlacenamePronunciation

Almhu

Coill Mór

Dún Baoiscne

Glenn Ceoch

Ráth Bládhma

Ráth Dearg

Seiscenn Uarbhaoil

Sliabh Bládhma

 

Common TermPronunciation

Bandraoi

Draoi

Fian

Óglach

 

Beara: Dark Legends Pronunciation

Character NamePronunciation (audio file)

Ailbhe

Bróna

Demne

Diarmuid O’Súilleabháin

Liam

Muireann (MacCarthy)

Muiris O’Súilleabháin

Púca

Tadhg (MacCarthy)

 

PlacenamesPronunciation (audio file)Note:

An Páirc Beag

Lit: The Small Field

An Páirc Mór

Lit:  The Big Field

An tOilean Mór

Lit: The Big Island

Baile Chaisleán Bhérra

Lit: The Town of the Castle of Beara

Carraig Dubh

Lit: Black Rock

Cnoc Daod

Lit: Quick-tempered hill

Cuan Baoi

Lit: The harbour of Baoi

Daingean an Poncán

Lit: The Yank’s Stronghold

Gleann na thost

Lit: Valley of Silences

Páirc an Cnoic

Lit: The Field of the Hill

Rón Carraig

Lit: Rock of the Seal

Beara: Book Notes

Texts, People and Events referenced in the novel

Texts

  • Acallam na Senorach – The Colloquy of the Ancients. A late 12th century text containing many Fenian narratives. The tales are told from the perspectives of warriors Oisín and Caílte mac Rónáin who recount many of the Fenian adventures to Saint Patrick.
  • An Cathach – The “Battle Book”. A 6th century manuscript psalter. This is Ireland’s oldest illustrated document. Only 58 leaves survive from the original manuscript.
  • Annals of Tighernach – The Annals of Tighernach are believed to have been compiled at Clonmacnoise towards the end of the 11th century. They are named after Tigernach Ua Braín, the abbot of the monastery there.
  • Codex Usserianus – An early 7th century Old Latin Gospel Book. The manuscript’s traditional name – the First Book of Uss(h)er – refers to James Ussher the Archbishop of Armagh.
  • Dúnaire Finn – A compilation of late medieval Fenian Cycle poems compiled by Aodh Ó Dochartaigh in 1627 for the use of Captain Somhairle Mac Domhnaill, an Irish mercenary fighting with the Spanish army during the Thirty Years War. The Irish Texts Society published the text in three volumes between 1908 and 1953 (vol. i, ed. Eóin MacNialll (Dublin, 1908), vol. ii, ed. Gerard Murphy (Dublin, 1933), and vol. iii, ed. Gerard Murphy (Dublin, 1953)
  • Fadden Psalter – An early medieval manuscript found in July 2006 in a peat bog at Faddan More, County Tipperary. It is considered one of the most significant Irish archaeological discoveries in Ireland for decades
  • Feis Tighe Chonáin – The Feast at Conán’s House. A late medieval text in which Fionn is given hospitality for the night in the sidhe (fairy fort) of Conán. During the text, Fionn recounts many of his adventures.
  • Leabhar Laighneach – The Book of Leinster. A medieval manuscript compiled around 1160.
  • Macgníamhartha Find – The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn. A text biography of Fionn’s youth based on Leinster folklore.
  • Springmount Bog tablets – Wax tablets discovered in a bog in County Antrim and believed to be the oldest example of writing in Latin from Ireland (around 600 A.D.)
  • Tóraiocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne – The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne. A Fenian narrative from the 10th century. It concerns the elopement of Fionn mac Cumhal’s bride with the Fenian hero Diarmuid ua Duibhne

Places

  • Brú na Bóinne – An ancient temple constructed more than 5000 years ago in the Boyne Valley
  • Cashel – The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, an ancient fortress later replaced by a monastery.
  • Tech nDuinn – The House of Donn (a pre-historical deity associated with the realm of the dead)
  • Tír na nÓg – Land of the Young (literally): Also a synonym for the Otherworld

People

  • Caibre Lifeachair – Mythological High King of Ireland and son of Cormac mac Art. According to the Fenian Cycle, he initiated events leading to the battle of Gabhra because of his jealousy of the Fianna and was killed during that battle by Fionn’s nephew Oscar who later died of his own wounds
  • Éogánachta – A federation of tribes of common lineage spread throughout Munster from the 3rd century. Internal septs included the O’Briens, the MacCarthys, the O’Donohues, the O’Keefes, and the O’Sullivans, among others.
  • Lugaid of the Red Stripes – Lughaidh Riabhdhearg. A fictional king who was said to have reigned during the prehistoric period.
  • Murchiú – Muirchu moccu Machtheni. A 7th century monk from Leinster
  • Muircheartach Ua Briain – great-grandson of Brian Boru. He was King of Munster but later declared himself High King of Ireland.
  • Seathrún Cétinn – Geoffrey Keating (in English). A 17th century Irish historian poet and priest most renowned for his work Foras Feasa ar Éirinn.

Leannán Sidhe: The Irish Muse

This book was the first I published and, in a way, it was a kind of test to see if I could actually write something other people might want to read. From my own experience at least, I’m convinced short stories are a critical step to developing your skill as an author and working up the tenacity to completing a longer, novel-length work.

Although I initially published it through a very small publishing house here in Wellington, I was blown away by the response. Despite the fact that few of the larger bookshops (or the smaller ones) wanted anything to do with an untried author who hadn’t come through the traditional/mainstream route, I ended up selling about 300 hardcopies in the first month – which for a collection of short stories in a country with a small population like New Zealand was pretty amazing. Since then, I’ve revised the original for the digital version but the book continues to sell steadily despite the fact that I’ve done absolutely nothing to market it. To be honest, I’m not really sure why it’s been so popular – people just seem to like the individual stories. In any case, the back cover blurb follows below, accompanied by some of the national reviews it received at the time.

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This intriguing collection of stories by new Irish writer Brian O’Sullivan puts an original twist on foreign and familiar territory. Merging the passion and wit of Irish storytelling with the down-to-earth flavour of contemporary New Zealand, these stories will thrust you deep into the fascinating lives of:

  • a ringmaster’s daughter who is too implausible to be true — despite all the evidence to the contrary
  • an ageing nightclub gigolo in one last desperate bid to best a younger rival
  • a Wellington consultant whose uncomplicated affair with a public service colleague proves anything but
  • an Irish career woman in London stalked by a mysterious figure from her past
  • a sleep-deprived translator struggling to make sense of bizarre events in a French city.

‘Leannán Sidhe (pronounced Lan-awn Shee) is a fairy or otherworld creature in Irish folklore; a muse that accepts a lover’s affection in return for the ability to create a work of art of immense feeling.

(1) Arts on Sunday

The author was interviewed on National Radio’s Arts on Sunday program in March; a copy of the interview can be downloaded here (link removed).

((2) Wairarapa Times Age (March 2008)

In this writers’ first collection of short stories there’s a strong painterly way with words that takes you to the places and situations even if you’re occasionally left wondering with a feeling of “what am I doing here?”
Snatched moments of lust and surges of romantic pain and bereavements abound as do chilly nights, lonely wanderings, jaded machinations, tawdry affairs, Kafkaesque frustrations and grim humour, “tanks be to God”.
Settings are important (but some hard to locate) and range from Galway to Lille, Donegal, Paris, Sussex, Wellington and London – chilly winds, mist and post-coital cigarettes all over the show, to be sure.
I appreciated many of his descriptions, mist through a train window and the way foggy days and nights can transport you into another kind of reality. The last story, Morris Dancing, is a neat twist on our supposedly benign colonisation process (no Union Jacks on London bridge, pai kare!) and is a fine ending to the author’s fine beginning.

(3) The Wellingtonian (April 2007)

There’s nothing quite like a good short story. Something that pulls you in, churns your mind around and spits you out the other end … thinking about what you’ve just read.

Wellington author Brian O’Sullivan offers 13 yarns in his first book The Irish Muse and Other Stories. Overall he achieves that feeling. Most of his stories left me wondering about the characters, their lives and experiences. A couple were ordinary.

It’s fiction tinged with a bit of real life experience, set in Wellington, Ireland and France amongst other places. The stories range from chance romantic encounters in a small Irish town and haunting tales of tragic personal loss to bizarre encounters between a consultant and a career woman in Wellington and one man’s attempt to get to the bottom of his internet service woes. The finale was a thought-provoking tale that upended my perception of indigenous people’s land grievances, oddly entitled ‘Morris Dancing’. My favourite is Sleepwalking in English, a story about a
man’s attempts to come to grips with the death of his partner in a car crash – the ending was eerie.

It’s a simply written, easy to read book that you can devour in a night if the mood takes you. It’s said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Au contraire, I liked the look of O’Sullivan’s book and the content proved to be good.

(3) Otago Daily Times (June 2007)

This is a delightful book of short stories by new author Brian O’Sullivan. The stories, which are set both in Ireland and New Zealand, are a mixture of tender whimsy and sharp irony, in a
collection that will delight. My favourites included the last one Morris Dancing which is a translation of the papers of the Maori rulers of New Aotearoa with the Parliament sitting in Westminster, London. In that same satirical vein I enjoyed The Morning After in which a couple wake up after a terribly debauched night unable to remember how they got to Paris or who they are. It has a fabulous punch line.

Less Ironic is the title story Leannán Sidhe, which is a sprawling tale about a composer with writer’s block and a flautist in a small Irish village. It has all the clichés of Ireland, but a modern tone that interweaves the magical and realistic in a wonderful, whimsical mix.

These stories were written by an Irish Kiwi and was sometimes difficult to see where stories were set until a place name was mentioned, as both countries seem to share wind, rain and rolling
green hills. This is but a tiny complaint, however, as I enjoyed the book greatly.

FIONN: The Defence of Ráth Bládhma

The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series – Book One

[Irish Bestseller and SPFBO 2016 Finalist]

The most authentic and entertaining Irish mythology/fantasy series on the market, this book includes the following extra content:

  • a glossary with explanations of ancient Irish cultural concepts
  • historical notes on the Fenian Cycle
  • a pronunciation guide and links to an online audio pronunciation guide

Ireland: 154 A.D. A time of strife and treachery.

Political ambition and inter-tribal conflict has set the country on edge, testing established alliances.

In the secluded valley of Glenn Ceoch, disgraced druid Bodhmhall and her lover Liath Luachra have avoided the bloodshed for many years. Now, the arrival of a pregnant refugee threatens the peace they have created.

Following Clann Baoiscne’s defeat at the battle of Gabhra, Clann Morna are on her trail, a mysterious war party roams the lands and a treacherous magician haunts Glenn Ceoch, intent on murder. The odds are overwhelming and death stalks from ever side

Based on the ancient Fenian Cycle texts, the Fionn mac Cumhaill Series tells the pulse-pounding tale of the birth and adventures of Ireland’s greatest hero, Fionn mac Cumhaill.

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Book Updates and Other News

Finally heading home to carry out some final research on the second book of my Beara Trilogy.

With this particular series, as well as the usual thriller and mystery element, I’ve always been keen to include a strong contemporary issue that’s recently been to the fore in Ireland. Unfortunately, these days, I seem a bit spoiled for choice. Events in Ireland  over the last few years have pretty much been overshadowed by the recession but, more recently, we’ve also had to deal with a new wave of emigration, Garda upper management that cannot be trusted with issues of justice, a complete dearth of political  leadership (seriously, anyone voting for either of the two larger political parties really has to ask themselves why), the impacts of climate change in terms of flooding etc. blah, blah, blah and so on.

If you’ve read the first book in this trilogy, you’ll know of course that, structurally, it consists of two separate (but interlinking) mystery stories – a style to be reproduced in the remaining two books.  For the second book, I can finally say that I have the contemporary section completely plotted out – something that proved decidedly difficult.

Now, however, I have to work in the folklore an mythology linkages that connect the contemporary mystery not only to the Beara of the 1960s but to an issue the country faces today. I do have one particular theme in mind which I found through my research some years ago and which encompasses all of the issues raised above. It is something, in fact, so important I’m pretty shocked that it seems to have disappeared through the cracks of history.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to getting into it.

Once I finish the second Fionn book (due in September 2014).

Until then, research, friends and lots of yacking beckons.