“Throughout my writing of this book I got engrossed with writers who use place as a vector for storytelling.”
After my first book, The Book of Revelations: A Collection of Short Stories, was published in the summer of 2019, I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it all again. It was a monumental effort, and I put a lot of time into it. I was worried that I might have used up all my creativity on it. Luckily for me, that’s not how these things work.
I began writing again in the week after publication. Writing short stories, at its core, is simply an enjoyable activity for me. I’ve always written them sporadically and without any sort of definite goal, and they tend to write themselves mostly. As I worried about whether I should be trying my hand at a novel, I kept writing more short stories. Eventually one of these stories became the premise of a novel I’m currently working on, and the rest became the content of my second collection of short stories, titled If You Are Reading This Then Drink Water. It’s a title that catches the eye, as well as a semi-serious reminder to keep yourself hydrated!
In a weird way, I think lockdown helped a lot with the formation of this collection. The sudden flipping of reality upside down, put life in perspective in a lot of ways. The pressure to produce eased up, as I took stock of what I had in life. I think the easing off of pressure almost made it easier to write, as I got back to writing for enjoyment, rather than writing to have something written, which was where my head was at pre-Covid.
Throughout my writing of this book I got engrossed with writers who use place as a vector for storytelling. Two in particular, Kevin Barry and Donal Ryan, have become a source of inspiration for me. The way they both use place and how people speak in these places, had a profound effect on me, as it makes their books so much more accessible. I think place plays a massive role in constructing the narrative, as well as allowing the reader to understand the world in which the characters find themselves, which then allows us to understand the characters at a deeper level.
At a more surface level, I always find it enjoyable to read something and suddenly come to the realization of actually knowing a setting in real life. For an author to be able to describe a location in such a way that it allows the reader to actually be there is a skillset Kevin Barry has which I admire greatly, and it’s one I’ve been working on myself. Hopefully that comes through for people reading this collection.
Many of the stories in this book are set in my home county of Cork, from the bend of Grand Parade to the more rural towns out West, I really enjoy intertwining the realities of the place with the surreal stories that take place within it. It allows a sense of madness that exists within the streets of the city to be sucked into the narrative, which is a fun yarn to draw out. Other stories are set in the bars of Dublin, New York, Boston, and the Antarctic, which was thoroughly challenging and very rewarding. However, twangs of Cork run through the veins of it, as I’m sure readers will be able to pick up on.
My second collection of short stories with Sulis International Press, If You Are Reading This Then Drink Water, comes out on October 12th 2020. You can find it online at the usual spots, like Book Depository and Amazon, but it is also available from some great Indie stores that I’m sure would appreciate the support such as O’Mahony’s Books and Alan Hanna’s Bookshop to name a few! It’s unlikely that there will be an in-person launch due to the pandemic, but I’ll do what I can to get out to shops to sign some copies if the opportunity becomes available.
Daragh Fleming is from Cork, Ireland.
His conversational writing style combines beautifully with a unique insight to deliver a collection of stories unlike anything else. Daragh’s writing is influenced by a background in Linguistics and a passion to promote positive mental health and well-being.