An interview with the Author of Iceapelago , Dr.Peter Brennan, for Allauthor.com. https://allauthor.com/interview/iceapelago/
Where were you born? Which is your favorite childhood memory?
In March 1953 in Dublin, Ireland, to Joe and Patricia Brennan.
Believe it or not but everything was memorable. I lived in the unspoilt seaside village of Malahide until I was 19. A few years ago I found my diaries from the time I was eleven and decided to write up many happy memories – including a fair share of mischief making – as a Christmas present for my sons. My love of golf, tennis and cricket, the cinema, writing comedy scripts, cycling all over north County Dublin on my own, too many family holidays to mention and antics at school were all written up warts and all. The boys concluded I had a charmed upbringing: they were right.
How did you develop your interest in writing books?
I learned to type in 1973 (when I was 20). Over very many years as a public servant I wrote countless reports and memos. When I got my PhD when I was 55, I took my research skills and standard of writing to a new level. My current business (‘don’t give up the day job son!’) also involves me writing documents for a wide variety of clients. My first book was a development of my thesis and a bit academic in nature. However, the exercise taught me to verify facts and check the evidence. That book Behind Closed Doors: the EU Negotiations that Shaped Modern Ireland was widely acclaimed. Armed with the experience of one book under my belt I subsequently wrote two other textbooks in quick succession.
What developed your keen interest in climate change?
For much of my career I worked in Brussels. As a consequence, I have developed a global perspective of world affairs. In the 1990s, long before it became popular, I started reading reports about the long term impacts of climate change. Ireland’s climate benefits from the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream (so we were told at school) and when it was suggested that the Gulf Stream would be badly affected by climate change I started to pay attention.
How would you describe your experience of chairing the Climate Change Research Group at the Institute for European and International Affairs for almost a decade?
In 2007, I coordinated and co-authored a report that made seminal policy recommendation to the Irish Government on climate action. What was unique was my bringing together all the disparate stakeholders involved in the debate. Environmentalists, farmers, trade unions, business people, scientists and even the odd civil servant were brought onto the one page: something had to be done in Ireland to meet our binding EU targets. Over a decade, practically every major scientist, politician, advisor, and NGO representative from across Europe and the United States spoke at the IIEA. The Institute won an award for its endeavour to create greater awareness on climate change through facilitated dialogue.
How much did you research before lecturing on climate change as part of the Masters Programme on Sustainable Finance?
This was a new programme so every lecture – all twenty that I delivered – had to be prepared from a blank sheet of paper. In addition to the Masters, Dublin City University also ran a Certificate Programme. The courses needed a text book so I wrote one: Ireland’s Green Economy: Driving Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy.
What are common errors made when people write books?
Let me focus on my first novel Iceapelago. I launched into the writing without any tutoring. When I was finished my first draft I discovered such things as the importance of having a primary character and a protagonist, plot development and engaging dialogue. My initial manuscript fell short of this standard. After I attended a creative writing course delivered by the brilliant Ferdia Mac Anna, I re-wrote most chapters. Much of the Tom Clancy-type detail I was so proud of was excised out. I expanded the dialogue to make the main characters more interesting. Errors: plenty. Lessons: listen to and seek advice from experienced authors. Rushing a book into print should be avoided at all costs. Invest in a good copy editor.
What sparked the idea for your book, ICEAPELAGO?
I had the good fortune to visit Antarctica a few years ago on a cruise ship, The lecturers who were excellent all had a common thread: the glaciers were melting. We discussed the tipping points: all scary stuff. On my return home I said to myself: could I switch from being an academic writer to a fiction author? I wrote the Greenland storyline first to probe if I was up to the task. The more I wrote the more I emersed myself in creating Iceapelago: a new word for a new world.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep editing. And when you think you have finished start re-editing. Also read as many novels as possible in the genre of your book.
How much did you research about sustainable and green procurement while writing Public Procurement: Rules of the Road?
I was fortunate that the European Commission had produced a series of guidelines, factsheets, training materials and practical tips about sustainable procurement. My task was to apply the rules in an Irish environment.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good thriller with action story?
A plot that keeps the reader engaged is critical. By definition, a thriller should be a page turner; a book the reader can’t put down. My technique was to leave the narrative at the end of a chapter unfinished with an unclear idea as to what would happen next. The plot should also be unpredictable. It should twist and turn then spring shut. Where possible visit the locations as this helps one better visualise the action. I travelled to Greenland and La Palma and had access to the marine research vessel that is part of the plot and this really helped me complete my first draft.
What is the importance of writing blog posts?
Reviews are more important than blog posts to my mind. I have published many posts on my web site www.iceapelago.com but with little obvious result in terms of book sales. While I use LINKEDIN, Instagram and Twitter it is almost impossible to see the return in terms of generating blogs against the metric of book sales. That said, all the advice from experienced authors is that blog posts matter. Whom am I to disagree.
Can renewable energies solve the grave problem of climate change?
It is not as simple as that. Reducing fossil fuel use will help of course. My humble opinion is that we are already beyond the tipping point. At some point in the near distant future, and not unrelated to the Iceapelago storyline, decades of inaction will deliver catastrophic natural events that will overwhelm civilised communities. I won’t be there but my grandchildren will experience the worst.
How much has the writing process changed while writing the sequel to Iceapelago?
I hope to finish Iceapelago: The Aftermath by the end of November. While a sequel to Iceapelago, it has a completely different focus. It is based entirely in Iceapelago (formerly the island of Ireland) and brings to life through a series of sub-plots the challenge of living in near Middle Ages conditions with some modern conveniences.
Unlike in Iceapelago where there were, arguably, too many characters, I am developing two key characters that are central to events. In a twist, I have embedded the lives of the Arctic foxes who arrived in Iceapelago shortly after it was formed. It will be true to the cli-fi genre. My wife who has reviewed the first ten chapters tells me it is far more compelling, easier to read and a real page-turner. My writing has also been informed by the many five star reviews (and some constructive criticisms) I have received.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself as an author in 10 years time?
Everyone who has read Iceapelago says it would make a great movie so I am preparing my speech at the Oscars! Seriously, I will continue to write for as long as I physically can. I have a page of initial ideas for my third novel. Who knows after that. I will continue to write for the sheer enjoyment of it. If the books are a success that’s a bonus.
Based on your experiences, could you rate and write a short review for AllAuthor?
I am very impressed with AllAuthor and would be happy to rate and write a short review and/or provide a testimonial.