As many of you will know, I recently uploaded my first novel, “The Ministry of Love”, up onto Amazon (Available to US/Ireland here, UK here), and since I’ve done that, some of you have been in touch on the topic of writing fiction.
It’s an odd mix, being interested in politics and writing fiction, in a way, because Irish politics does not go to the lofty aspirational heights of US politics. Instead, our politics tends to be of the ultra-pragmatic “whatever works” style.
I have to admit, though, that I find writing fiction about politics, as I did in the novel, and elsewhere, to be a great antidote to the disappointment that so often emerges from real politics. You can, as Shaw said, see things that never were, and ask why not?
Some years ago, I wrote a short novella, which I never published, about Irish politics. It was set during the Celtic Tiger, and reads quite oddly now, given the situation Ireland finds herself in today. But what was interesting when I wrote it, and the various fairly fantastic political situations that occurred in it, was that every time I came to an unbelievable plot point, I would ask myself: why could this not happen in real life, in real politics?
The answer I kept coming across was not that there were legal or social or even economic reasons why something could not be done. It was that our politicians don’t do anything unless they cannot avoid it. They’re not conservative or even reactionary. They’re just inert. That’s the greatest satisfaction about writing political fiction. In it, you can write about politicians who actually want to do things.