I have this dream that one day, when I’m rich and famous, I will know that I have arrived, that I have made it. It is when I walk down those steps in Studio One at RTE to rousing applause and I’m greeted by the host of The Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy (known to his friends and detractors as ‘Ding-Dong’). I have dreamed about it so much, that I decided to make it a reality of sorts. Here, for your delectation, is that interview. It may or may not turn out this way, but it’s my hope that it will, at the very least, happen some time in my future.
RT: Welcome back to The Late Late Show, ladies and gentlemen. My next guest is what you might call a dark horse. No, it’s not Black Beauty (cue tittering from the audience). He came literally from nowhere to take the world of publishing by storm. His debut novel, The Dark Crusade of Robinson Stone, is still riding high in the bestseller lists and has been optioned by Neil Jordan’s production company. His follow-up, Bullethead, is out now in all good book stores. From bartender to author, would you please welcome James McShane.
(Studio band play Late Late theme tune as James comes down the steps. The audience applaud rapturously.)
RT: You’re very welcome to the show, James.
JM: Thanks, Ryan. It’s good to be here. It’s not often I get to share a dressing room with Jane Fonda. (audience laughs)
RT: So, tell me James, how long have you wanted to be a writer?
JM: Since I was in primary school. I wrote funny plays for English class and had visions of them being staged at the Abbey. I learned to read and write before I began school, though, so I had a bit of a head-start on the rest of my classmates. I became the teacher’s pet.
RT: How did the rest of the class take to you?
JM: They beat the shite out of me. Sorry, Ryan, can I say shite?
RT: As long as you don’t say fuck, you’re okay. (audience guffaws)
JM: Sound. So, the years went by and I came to the realisation that yes, I could write, and I did what every would-be writer did.
RT: What was that?
JM: I did everything but write. I left school, got a job in a bar and discovered the joys of alcohol and women. Had too much of one and not enough of the other. (audience awwws in sympathy). Writing became something I wanted to do but did nothing about.
RT: So there was a turning point somewhere along the line.
JM: Yes, I quit drinking; and as soon as I did that I enrolled in journalism school.
RT: Well done.
JM: Thank you. From that point onwards it was writing all the way. I discovered this website, WEbook.com, joined up and started to write what has now become The Dark Crusade of Robinson Stone.
RT: Where did that idea come from?
JM: The side of a van. (audience ROTFLAO)
JM Yes. I spotted a van in the car park of the pub I used to work in with the name of a company that makes headstones for graves. I thought it was a cool name and decided there and then to use it whenever I created a fictional character. Initially my book was to be fantasy, a journey through time and space with a man searching for the meaning to his existence. Kind of like Jean-Paul Sartre, only with Orcs.
RT: What happened to that idea?
JM: It was rubbish. (audience in need of oxygen) Unknown to myself, the characters wanted to go down the route of crime and politics.
RT: And rugby.
JM: Yes, rugby. Sport plays an important part in Irish society; alcohol and drug addiction, too. I wanted to echo these themes in my novel.
RT: The government doesn’t come across very well in your books, James. Is there a specific reason for this?
JM: Yes, they’re a shower of corrupt and incompetent muppets. (St. John’s Ambulance arrives to resuscitate audience)
RT: So you’re making political and social statements, as well as telling a story.
JM: That’s the idea.
RT: Tell me what’s happening with Neil Jordan. Is it true he wants to film your book?
JM: All I can say about that, Ryan, is that I now have Colin Farrell on speed-dial.
RT: Colin Farrell as Robinson Stone, a match made in heaven, as I’m sure the audience will agree. (audience erupt into cheers of support – those that are left standing, anyway)
JM: Liam Neeson is a possibility for Connor Bellew, too. We’ll see.
RT: What’s next for you?
JM: The Aardvark. (audience goes apoplectic with ecstasy)
RT: The infamous Allie. How is he?
JM: He’s doing okay. He’s just back from a journey through time and space with some bloke looking for a meaning to his existence. (audience passes out)
RT: Tell him we said hello.
JM: Will do.
RT: James, I wish you continued success.
JM: Thanks, Ryan. I better go back to Jane. She has this calisthenics move she wants to show me.
RT: Ladies and gentlemen, James McShane.
(rousing applause from the one audience member still standing)