Sunday 19 November 2017

Write side... with novelist Ciarán McMenamin


Ciarán McMenamin
Ciarán McMenamin
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Ciarán McMenamin on his novel Skintown, a drink and drug-fuelled odyssey through fights, riots, sex and fishing.

Is Skintown based on your hometown Enniskillen in the Troubles?

I wanted to get across that small-town Ireland has its casual violence that would have happened without the Troubles. There are fellows kicking the shite out of each other that had nothing to do with religion.

And it all happens outside the chipper?

My experience of it would have been similar to that of the main character Vinny, although I am obviously exaggerating. I would have never beaten up anyone with a pipe, but I liked the same kind of music.

Were any of the incidents true?

I was never in the middle of a riot, but I was probably on the edge of a few, looking in. There was one incident that really happened to me. Vinny was in a car with two loyalist hoods, who were intent on giving him a kicking, and then the car crashed.

You have been a TV actor for a long time. What made you want to write?

It has always been a vocation. I was a gobby wee shite at school. Teachers gave me essays to write as a punishment - on topics such as "the sex life of a sugar cube". I took to them with such gusto that they read the essays out in the staff room.

As a writer, would you like to change some of your TV scripts?

All the time. There is a lot of bad stuff. I end up tweaking things. If you are shooting a modern telly show, nine out of 10 times they are over the moon if the actor can make it their own.

Which two books would you take to a desert island?

All Quiet on the Western Front and Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson.

If you weren't a novelist or an actor, what would you be?

I would have liked to have been a war correspondent, but my missus is happy that I didn't do that. I could write fly-fishing manuals.

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