Inish Carraig - what's the appeal?

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
26,351
Location
UK
In a recent blog post, Jo Zebedee expressed surprise that Inish Carraig sells so well, and wondered aloud at its appeal. That got me to thinking what really appealed to me about the book, and why I enjoyed it so much.

A couple of thoughts come to mind:

1. The prologue - I know this was posted to Critiques but removed from the final published version, but it was so filled with tension I knew the overall story must be good. This was underwritten not just by the apocalyptical idea that Earth had already lost the invasion, but also that the invading Zelo's were not mindless but followed clear rules and could force and accept a surrender.

2. NI details - there were some great moments in there that seemed real and unique to Northern Ireland. I especially remember a scene where Henry Carter drives John at speed from the police station, and the the description of the crowd suddenly pulling away at the last moment - something recognized from any early 1980's news footage during the Troubles.

3. Multiple aliens - maybe not a biggie, but the fact that this was no simple alien invasion, but instead something subject to a more complex galactic political order was interesting. So there weren't just the Zelos, but also the Barath'na.

4. Atmosphere - there was a lot of moody atmosphere in this. I remember one scene in particular where John is making his way along a (now) deserted railway line, which underlined just how apocalyptic the alien invasion was.

Anyway, those are just some immediate thoughts on what stood out for me. :)
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
13,513
Location
West Sussex, UK
It was ages ago so it's hard to remember, but I think the Belfast setting was a big part of its draw. From my perspective, Belfast is somewhere that feels reasonably close to home but also different, and because of its recently troubled past, "gritty". I've spent the last minute trying to think of anywhere else in the world that would have worked as well for me, and can't. Everywhere else is too far away, too quiet, or (e.g. London) too familiar and overused.

That alone doesn't make it a good read, of course, but I think it goes some way to explaining its appeal. And as Jo said in her blog, it makes it easy for word-of-mouth.

Multiple aliens

Yes, this was unusual and well done.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
19,367
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
If I could just bottle it .... thanks for the thread, Brian which is useful as I’m starting back to the sequel (well currently musing and plotting) which has stalled mainly on the Carter arc - the rest are mostly complete except for the end-game. Nixie has helped with this in a PM last week.

The NI setting is strong in this one - but is also is in Waters (with a more gothic brooding feel) which has never taken off, despite good reviews. But Harebrain hits on something too - about what the appeal of (NI) books are (we have a very big crime scene here, with @Kerrybuchanan as the newest kid on the block) - the sense of a place known and gritty. For me, I find this difficult as I want to portray a place that has, in many ways, moved past the Troubles. Although that is very much in question and we still have long shadows here (which feeds into the feel of the one I’m releasing next year, I think). Crime books, in particular, often seem to have a Troubles legacy requirement. That Inish was written directly to be a non-Troubles book, but still captured the feel of them, and did well on that basis is an irony not lost on me.

I read an interview with Ian McDonald recently where he said

‘I think as I said earlier, it is a perfect preparation for life in the twenty-first century. We’re becoming one big Belfast out there.
I’ve said this before, and I’ve been questioned on it by a few people, but I firmly stand by it, that Northern Ireland is a great post-colonial issue. Ireland was Britain’s first—and probably last—colony, and certainly the end game of empire is being played out there’

(Interview: Ian McDonald - Lightspeed Magazine)

He also talks about the duality of Northern Ireland (‘It skews the way I look at things. I’m interested in societies with internal conflict, like Northern Ireland. I’m interested in political/social/religious divides. Where you have two different societies, two different religions running up against each other, two different belief systems, you have tension, and where you have tension you have drama, and where you have drama you have a story. So I’m naturally drawn to the chaotic, let’s say.’) and that, I think, played into the duality of the aliens.

But this was all unconscious at the time - I recently had to pick it apart for some research I’m doing - and perhaps all the better for it.

If anyone wants to, this is the original prologue Brian mentioned:


I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw it away, although it no longer fitted as a intro.

In other news I read last week that most authors have their best, most iconic work written by the time they are 41. I’m sure I was around that when I was working on it. So there’s a cheery thought :D

Also food for thought for any of the newer writers who might have a juke at this - Inish was originally a 75 word challenge entry (it’ll still be on here, somewhere in the dregs of the challenges forum - I’ll see if I can find it in a mo) and it has, essentially, given me whatever writing career I have. (here it is 75 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE - June 2012 -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE)
 
Last edited:

Boneman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2008
Messages
5,540
Location
Working with the Bare Bones of talent
For me, it was the tragedy of the so-young mc, forced to grow up in an instant, and care for siblings. The descriptive text brought post-WW2 Europe to my mind, a period I have always been interested in, the bleakness of those left to survive in any way they can... which is why he takes the job in the first place.
 

nixie

pixie druid
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
7,464
Location
I may live in Yorkshire but I'm a Scot
If I could just bottle it .... thanks for the thread, Brian which is useful as I’m starting back to the sequel (well currently musing and plotting) which has stalled mainly on the Carter arc - the rest are mostly complete except for the end-game. Nixie has helped with this in a PM last week.
You can pay me when we work on the sequel to Waters, I'll be the all powerful mixed blood who's mission is to stop the fey enticing mortals to the other realms :whistle: :ROFLMAO:
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
19,367
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
For me, it was the tragedy of the so-young mc, forced to grow up in an instant, and care for siblings. The descriptive text brought post-WW2 Europe to my mind, a period I have always been interested in, the bleakness of those left to survive in any way they can... which is why he takes the job in the first place.

This is important. It is, first and foremost, about the family and Carter - his interaction with John is incredibly important. (Boneman and @TheDustyZebra were the editors of IC)
 

Kerrybuchanan

Delusions of Grammar
Supporter
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Messages
2,713
Location
Ballynahinch, County Down
In other news I read last week that most authors have their best, most iconic work written by the time they are 41. I’m sure I was around that when I was working on it. So there’s a cheery thought :D
I really hope not. I didn't start writing at all until I was almost 50.
 

Similar threads


Top