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Thursday 3 December 2015

ℚ♫ Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary: Hands On History [2] - Patricia Murphy

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary (, Poolbeg Press Ltd, 304 pages), a Middle Grade Historical Fiction novel, the second book written by Patricia Murphy for Poolbeg's Hands On History series.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Patricia Murphy; thank you for joining us today.

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"I listened to:

Les Fourmis Dans Des Mains – French group, which I heard in a music festival in a tiny Provencal village called Beaumont de Pertuis. Their name roughly translates as ants in your hands, which means “pins and needles”.

Ray of Light – Madonna album – my seven-year-old daughter is a big Madonna fan and I’ve grown to love this album. We listened to it repeatedly as I was driving her to school in France where we lived for most of this year. Every song is haunting and complex."
What was the inspiration for Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary?
"This novel is about a twelve-year-old boy caught up in the Irish war of Independence in 1920-22.  The main character Dan and the premise for the book is directly inspired by my grandfather who was a very talented young footballer and played for Ireland’s youth team.  But he was also a member of the Fianna militarist boy scouts and ran messages, acted as a lookout and buried guns for the rebels who were fighting the British Empire for independence.  From this germ, I have concocted a plot that is woven around real historical events and figures.

The novel while a stand alone, also continues the story of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary, which tells the story of the Easter Rebellion in Dublin from the standpoint of Dan’s cousin Molly."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"As the book is set in Dublin and Ireland, concerns Irish history and also features characters based on my grandparents, it reflects my background and past rather than me as such. I grew up in Dublin, went to school and university in the city centre, so I know it backwards. I studied history at Trinity College Dublin and was surrounded by the architecture of our history. So the past always felt like a living, breathing thing to me. I also set some of the plot in Ringsend and Irishtown, where my grandparents used to live so the geography was very much alive in my imagination. My grandmother used to work in her aunt’s huxter shop – a little shop selling vegetables, groceries, twists of tea in paper, broken biscuits, smoked fish – and I put that in the story.

As well as basing the character Dan on my grandfather, I also borrowed our family origins. My great-great grandfather was a surgeon in the British army in India where my great grandfather was born. He was training in the merchant navy but jumped ship because he wanted adventure and to see the world. He eloped with my great-grandmother who was from a different religion and both were disowned from the families. I’ve embedded this family background in the story for several reasons. Drawing on my personal connection to the period made it vivid for me. But also my family background typifies many of the conflicts and dilemmas of people in this era. In the fight for Irish independence, people often had family on both sides of the struggle – a father say, employed by the British army or government, while a son who joined the rebels. Also the problems of religious intolerance were very real – still are in many parts of the world. The realities of people’s lives are never black and white and I wanted to reflect that."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"In discussions with the publisher it was decided to go for an animation cover to appeal to this age group, roughly 10-14. But also in such a way that both younger and older children would feel comfortable with it. Animation now has a much wider age group and is no longer seen as babyish. We also wanted to communicate that it was a dynamic exciting story, not a textbook about dead people!

The illustrator is Derry Dillon who is known for his colourful, vivid drawing and artwork."
Why should we read Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"I hope my books are both entertaining and draw the reader in but also bring history alive. The books have been critically acclaimed and praised as brilliant storytelling based on meticulous research with compelling characters and exciting plots, accessible for all ages.

I’ve been visiting a lot of schools and libraries and the feedback I’ve been getting from children is tremendous. I don’t shy away from the complexity of the moral issues and I’m really pleased that young readers respond to that. The books have also been described as not just historical fiction but classic coming-of-age. And I can’t argue with that!"
Can you tell us something quirky about Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary, its story and characters?
"This book blends real historical characters with fictional characters. Some of iconic figures from Irish history and some are people who once lived but have been forgotten or have become footnotes. So I hope I’ve rescued a few people from obscurity.

I have looked for interesting, quirky personal facts to animate the portraits of the historical figures. For example, Michael Collins (who was the subject of a big Hollywood movies) was well known for being boisterous even though he was also a dedicated ruthless, leader. Eamon de Valera, who later became President of Ireland, was a lifelong rugby fan despite the game being seen as an English game and unpatriotic. That thankfully has changed. Sean MacBride who later won the Nobel Peace Prize and was a young guerrilla leader was known as a dapper dresser.

Among the minor characters is Thomas Whelan, who was executed during the War of Independence despite overwhelming circumstantial evidence of his innocence. This was a miscarriage of justice that is at the heart of the plot. One of my great-aunts lived in an apartment block named after him. There is also a Jewish solicitor, Michael Noyk who acted for the rebels and was a keen soccer fan. "
Who would you recommend Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would hope this book would be accessible to all ages. I know of kids who’ve been passing it on to their parents and grandparents. So I really like the idea of writing a multi-generational book. Even though it deals with war and shootings, I hope its done in a sensitive manner."
If you could / wished to turn Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary and the Hands On History series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Gosh, I would be so thrilled if anyone wanted to adapt it I wouldn’t like to be prescriptive as each team has unique qualities. I think Michael Fassbender would make a great Michael Collins. The character of Dan who is twelve would have to be an unknown – unless one of my nephews would be the right age by the time the movie would be made! My brother Neil is a Film Producer so I’d like him to be involved, even though it’s not quite his genre."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"My first books for children were Celtic fantasy – a trilogy called The Chingles, which has just been re-issued as eBooks.

Now, I’m immersed in historical fiction, which combines my love of storytelling and history. I keep an open mind about genres. I like a challenge so am always keen to explore. I’ve been to Film School so would quite like to do a children’s screenplay."
What is your writing process?
"I mostly try to keep office hours when my daughter is at school. Then once its pick-up I revert to being a mummy. I’m fairly disciplined. I used to work in television as a producer/director so I’m used to working to deadlines. I also do a lot of research for the historical novels, so I often read before bedtime and take some notes. But I try not to over- research, as this can become a substitute for actual writing. I often write, and then burrow into the sources when I need information or authentic details."
What is in store next?
"I’m working on the third book in the trilogy of Ireland’s road to the Republic. It’s about the Irish Civil War in 1922. This is told from the viewpoint of a contemporary Irish-American girl who returns to live in Dublin after her mother’s messy divorce. She finds a cache of letters and the sliver of a diamond in their boarding house and is plunged into a mystery that takes her into Ireland’s civil war, the Russian revolution and lost millions in an American bank account. Once I wrote The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and then Deadly Shot about the War of Independence, the whole period got hold of me!

One of the characters who will re-appear is Jack the Cat, Molly’s brother from the first book. He was somebody I loved writing about so I’m glad to continue his story."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

"This is not me but one of my books and I wanted to share this with you. The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary was featured as a book choice by this fabulous little girl Ana Lucia McGrath on Ireland’s highest rating programme – The Late Late Toy Show on RTE. Here she is with Ireland’s most famous presenter Ryan Tubridy. This programme is an institution and the whole of Ireland but especially children, their parents and grandparents tune in to decide what toys to get for Christmas. They have a short book slot so it was a real honour to be chosen. Ana Lucia clearly loved the book and was funny and articulate. I was really thrilled!"

Deadly Shot - Dan's Diary
Available NOW!

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Unknown said...

Thank you so much for hosting me. Love the combination of music and books!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

BooksChatter said...

Hi Patricia! Me too :-) I will add a proper youtube playlist tomorrow with tracks from the two artists you mentioned! Apologies for not managing it today!

Hope you had a great tour!