Thursday, August 18, 2005

Why I write

As an author, I hope that my writings will educate as well as entertain, that they will reach and move people in ways that perhaps even I cannot anticipate. Of course, I realize that not all of my future novels will meet this kind of self-imposed 'test' if you will, but nevertheless, this is something I am conscious of when I write certain books. For example, my next novel which will soon go out on submission to publishers and whose working title is Unusual Steps is really a dark comedy, and was written with no particular lesson or objective in mind. In other words, its goal is to entertain.

Not so with A Son Called Gabriel. With this novel, I was as determined to educate readers about what it's like for a young boy who discovers to his horror that he's growing up gay in a very conservative culture as I was to entertain them with humor and wit. Some lofty-minded authors will undoubtedly scoff and say the author should have no such goal in mind, that he or she should care only about the goal of creating high art. That, too, is also fine, a worthy objective. But, frankly, I don't give a damn if they think this is the only goal in writing quality fiction. I care passionately only that my work is accessible to people who love to read, that they can relate to the story, and where possible, that they can learn something no matter how small in the process of reading it.

I am very happy to report that I appear to have been successful in this mission with 'Gabriel.' Many people have said at readings or they've emailed to say how glad they are that I have written about this complex subject within the context of a novel. Such conversations and emails brighten my day, make me so very joyful that this was my first novel to get published.

Recently, I received an email from a woman who wrote to express her feelings after she'd read 'Gabriel.' I was very moved by her words and wish to share them with you. After I'd read the email, I closed my eyes and said to myself, "This is why I wrote this book."

Here it is:

Hello.

My name is Rita-Anne. I just finished reading "A Son Called Gabriel". I purchased the book, only having read the inside page and being drawn to it because it is set in Northern Ireland.

By about pages 8/9, I realized that he was gay. That's when I read the reviews on the back cover!

While I have many friends who are either gay, lesbian or transgendered, I found this book gave me a greater understanding of the internal turmoil they experienced as children/young adults.

Having been to Northern Ireland too many times to count (my best friend lives in Belfast), I completely understood the social elements, the familial conflicts and the time frame in which the book is set. And while I laughed a number of times throughout the book, I must confess I cried shamelessly when Gabriel hits his breaking point.

That said, I am sorry the book is finished because I now feel a sense of loss. In addition, I am sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you while you did the signings in the North Wales and Philadelphia areas last month.

Thank you, Mr McNicholl, for writing such a tender, wonderful and insightful novel.

All the best,
Rita-Anne Provenzano

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It's me who thanks you, Rita-Anne.

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4 comments:

Nathan said...

Hi Damian

Thank you for commenting at my blog. Whenever somebody comments, I like to check out their website. That is what leads me here to your blog.

I think that's a great letter about your book. It must be very rewarding to receive letters like that.

"A Son Called Gabriel" sounds very interesting, I have to check it out. From what I have gathered, it sounds a bit like my childhood. And I know there are thousands of other men and women out there who can relate too.

I'm inspired that you wrote this book and were able to get it published. I have considered writing a book myself, about the same topic, telling the story of my own childhood.

I will let you know when I've read it. In the mean time, best of luck to you.

Damian McNicholl said...

Thank you for the note, Nathan. And look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Spencer said...

Hi thanks so much for stopping by my blog I like Nathan like to visit people who visit me.

I went to Amazon and check out your book I am ordering it I like what I seen.

I love books about coming out growing up seems like most of us can live through these books and would have are own to write if we take the time.

I would like to link you on my blog if that is ok and after I read the book I will post about it with links so people may but it also!

Damian McNicholl said...

Hey Spencer, thanks for the comment and link away.