Friday 28 July 2017

Write side... with novelist Joe Joyce

Author Joe Joyce
Author Joe Joyce
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Novelist Joe Joyce on German spies in Dublin, Charles Haughey and his near namesake James.

How did it feel to have your novel Echoland chosen as the Dublin One City One Book for 2017?

It's a great honour. It's a historical spy novel set in Dublin during World War II. In April, Dublin city council have special events linked with the book and that period in our history.

What drew you to the 1940s?

It was a fascinating time. The fact that Ireland stayed neutral in the war helped to establish that we were independent. There was lots of intelligence activity going on in Dublin. There were a dozen German spies caught here during the war.

What was your first book?

I wrote The Boss with Peter Murtagh about Charles Haughey in the 1980s. It had a big impact. Haughey wouldn't talk to us when we were writing it. At the time, there was an assumption that he had become rich through financial wizardry. People didn't realise until later that what Haughey did was put his hand out and say, "Gimme the money".

I believe Haughey signed copies of the book for people. How did he react to it?

He described it as a work of fiction. When people asked him to sign copies - as, bizarrely, they sometimes did - he usually wrote something like "there isn't a word of truth in this book".

Which book would you take to a desert island?

I love spy thrillers of all kinds. My favourite is probably The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry.

How did you come to write a play about James Joyce set in the Sandycove Martello tower?

I live near the tower where Joyce and Oliver St John Gogarty lived. I was walking by it one day and I wondered what those two guys would say to each other now if they met, looking back over 100 years.

Are you by any chance related?

No, I have been accused of trying to trade on the name, even though I am as entitled to the name Joyce as anyone.

See dublinonecityonebook.ie for more information on events

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