On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
I'm delighted to welcome Jack Byrne to share Sunday Brunch
Welcome, Jack, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
If you don't mind I'm extending the brunch into lunch and taking over the whole day. With this in mind I would bring meat and potatoes, it might not be the most exciting or exotic meal but with lashings of gravy it is the essential Sunday dinner of childhood in Liverpool, England, Ireland or anywhere the UK.
Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?
When I arrive, to settle me down I'll have black tea, with milk and sugar. I need around ten cups a day to keep me hydrated and motivated. During lunch a slightly sparkling white would go down well, and after lunch we can move on to golden Barbadian rum to move us into glorious after dinner immobility.
Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?
Depending on the weather the kitchen or the patio, if it's cold we can have a roaring open fire. If its sunny then we can do battle with insects outside.
Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?
Yeah if we are outside in the sun, can I have some Gill Scot Heron? Pieces of a man, Winter in America and The Bottle are some of the most haunting and lyrical tracks I've ever heard. If we are inside then maybe something a bit livelier some toe tapping Van Morrison or The Chieftans.
Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?
There could be so many, I would love to chat with John Steinbeck and Jack London two writers that hooked me from a very early age, but chief guest and head of the table would go to James Baldwin. Like Gill Scot Heron the emotional truth combined with searing intelligence of Baldwin's writing looks at past crimes and future possibilities in a way that leaves him head and shoulders above most commentators or writers.
Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?
There is one book that draws me back every couple of years, it is A Life Sacred and Profane a biography of Caravaggio by Andrew Graham Dixon. I love the contextualisation of the artist in all his chaotic glory. A life of passion and crime that produced paintings of humanity in contrast showing the darkness and light.
When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
While I am writing I generally read social and political histories and biographies of the period. All my novels have dual narratives, present day and recent history, from the 1950s to today. Getting the period details, atmosphere, and dialogue in the UK and Ireland takes quite a bit of research. There is so much I would like to read it is hard to keep up.
Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
From my life, and the lives and struggles of families like mine. My novels reflect lives in the city I come from, they alternate in time and geography from the past to the present and from Liverpool to Ireland.
Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?
I write on the sofa in the Living room. My daughter is on the sofa opposite me, and my son is sitting behind me, both are eating the scrambled eggs I have just made. Most days they are at school so it is a little quieter, but it is the centre of our lives.
When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?
My first novel Under The Bridge is out now, the second Across The Water will be out in March 2022 and I am editing the third The Morning After. I am ok with deadlines and if they are not imposed externally then I create my own.
Give us four essential items that a writer needs?
Tea, tea, and more tea, oh and a reliable laptop.
What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?
My first novel was described as 'A truly British and Irish thriller' and I am happy with that. If you like page turners with strong historical and social context then I hope you will enjoy my work.
2004 - The discovery of a skeleton in the Liverpool docklands unearths long buried secrets. Reporter, Anne McCarthy, is keen to prove herself and dives into the case with abandon where she finds Michael, an old Irish caretaker who knows far more than he’s letting on and may have a connection to the body.
Meanwhile, Vinny Doyle, is starting a postgrad degree, researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. But Vinny has been neglecting his own family history and stranger Michael might know about his father's disappearance in the 70s.
1955 - Escaping violence in Ireland and fresh off the boat, Michael falls in with Wicklow boys Jack Power and Paddy Doyle, who smuggle contraband through the docks putting them at odds with unions while they rally the dock workers against the rackets and the strikebreakers. A story of corruption, secret police, and sectarianism slowly unravels. But will the truth out?
As the conflict heightens, Michael questions the life sprawling out ahead of him. In the present, Anne races to solve the mystery, but is she prepared for what she’ll find?
Jack, where can we follow you on social media?
Twitter: @jackbyrnewriter - DM or follow I'll be happy to engage
Thank you, Jack, for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
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