Brian McGilloway on the personal, the political, and the police
McGilloway, who grew up in Derry in the North, sent a thoughtful reply to my posts that reminded me of what Matt Rees likes to say when asked if he plans to include Israeli characters in his novels set in the Palestinian territories. No, Rees says, because to do so might lead to unseemly and distracting side-taking.
McGilloway's novels are Borderlands and the new Gallows Lane. Without further ado, here's what their author has to say about the personal, the political, the police and the hero of the books, Inspector Benedict Devlin:
"I know you've been questioning the issue of a Northern Irish writer setting his hero in the Republic, then working with the North's PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). The main reason for it, I suppose, was to avoid the political. During the time of writing, policing was still a hot issue in Northern Ireland. I was aware that, as a Northern writer, people would rightly or wrongly look at the books for a political angle on the presentation of the PSNI. By filtering their presentation through Devlin's eyes, it allows Devlin to direct, to some extent, the reader's reactions and makes his response to the PSNI a personal rather than political one. I hope that makes sense.
"In addition, the PSNI was changing so much that, by the time the book would have been published, their presentation would have been out of date. Some Northern Irish politicians still complain if it's discovered that Guards are coming into Northern Ireland — on the ground it's happening much more frequently than people expect, I imagine. I thought that was an interesting and unique angle from which to approach a police procedural."And of course the Guards over here have had their own problems recently — considered more fully perhaps in the second Devlin book, Gallows Lane.
"As for the Troubles — I wanted to write a non-Troubles book but, around the Border, it would be unrealistic to assume that they're not there somewhere — thus the only representation of the Troubles in Borderlands is the disembodied voice, talking about the past. It's there, but increasingly insubstantial. Or that was my intention, at least."
© Peter Rozovsky 2008, 2014