The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.
In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.
To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?
I hope a brief glimpse into their lives is as inspiring to you as it is to me.
This latest installment is by one of the most creative guys I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with – Colin C. Murphy.
What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?
Personal: Surviving the last ten years of my children’s adolescence and remaining sane!
Career: Getting my novel ‘Boycott’ published – something I’ve been dreaming about since I wrote my first story in secondary school. It’s only taken me 30 or more years.
What’s been your greatest sacrifice?
I would have to say ‘chill out time’. That sounds a bit odd, but I’ve found that to dedicate so much time to writing and researching has left me with little time to do much else, although I’m not complaining, far from it, as I’m convinced being a full time writer is the best job on the planet.
To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?
My English teacher Mr. Condon, when I was 15, for giving me the encouragement to pursue my creative side. Also my parents, who weren’t well off by any stretch, for the sacrifices they made to ensure we all had an education. Incidentally, my Dad, who was a Painter & Decorator, celebrated his 90th birthday this year and is still driving!
Who and what inspire you?
There are lots of writers that inspire me of course, but the people that really inspire me in life are those we hear little about, such as those people who care for the very sick or infirm 24/7. We think we have hassled lives, but compared to these incredible individuals, we’re living in paradise.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Who couldn’t be inspired by the achievements of the Paralympians we saw recently from all corners of the world? Such dedication to achieving their dreams against almost impossible odds. They make the rest of us look like a bunch of wimps.
What makes you unhappy?
I could make lots of jokes here such as saying ‘Tax’, ‘No sex’, ‘Hangovers’ and the like. But seriously, the only thing that ever really made me deeply unhappy in my life was a period of loneliness when I lived alone in a flat in Edinburgh many years ago. Thankfully I haven’t had to experience the same feeling since. I think loneliness probably accounts for a large percentage of society’s unhappiness today.
What makes you happy?
Writing. When I’m writing it’s as though a river of happiness is flowing through my soul!
What are you reading?
I’m just finishing Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I always loved the movie and finally got around to finding a 2nd hand copy of the book on e-bay recently. Just a couple of chapters to go…great stuff even though I already know Maxim de Winter’s dark secret…
Who, or what, are you listening to?
Literally at this moment I’m listening to The Arctic Monkeys blasting up through the floorboards from my son’s room. (Turn the f…ing thing down!). I actually don’t listen to music that much anymore, unless it is on the radio in the car or something. I literally don’t have the time. Although when we’re having dinner at the weekends myself and the wife often listen to an eclectic mix of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s music. Pair of old fogies.
What’s your favourite film?
It’s A Wonderful Life, with James Stewart. Gets me every time, big old sentimental softie that I am.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Ancient Rome. Although I wouldn’t mind secretly bringing along an Uzi sub machine gun if that was allowed, as it could be a pretty dangerous place. I’ve always been fascinated by Roman history and the intricacies of their society and politics, which was incredibly advanced when most of the rest of the world were still living in mud huts. I’ve dragged my wife to a hundred remnants of the Roman civilisation all over Europe. I often wonder if the Roman Empire hadn’t collapsed in the 5th century and all their libraries hadn’t been burnt to the ground etc where the world might have gone. No dark ages? No religious wars? No Spanish Inquisition? Electricity by the 12th century, perhaps? Colony on Mars in the 19th century? Of course they might also have gotten the atomic bomb by the 18th century and blown the planet to bits! Who knows?
What frightens you?
Any major ill-health issue, either my own or my family’s. I had a rough time about 6 years ago when I had serious lower back problems and underwent my third operation, luckily successful. But I was off work for 3 months at the time, in constant pain and couldn’t even get out of a chair without help. Since then I’ve learnt to appreciate my health and dread the thought of anything going wrong with the oul’ bod. (Oops, hope I haven’t jinxed myself…)
What can’t you live without?
Family, writing, friends, the wilderness (I’m a keen hill walker whenever I get the chance). Oh, and Guinness.
What’s your motto?
I borrowed it from the great golfer, Arnold Palmer. When a journalist once remarked that he was a very lucky golfer, he replied ‘Yeah, and I find the more I practice the luckier I get.’
If you only had one year to live what would you do?
Besides write another book (a short one) and spend a lot of time with my family, there are 406 summits over 500 m high in Ireland. I’ve 108 left to complete…that’s just over 2 a week, no problem!
Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?
Any bigot, racist, fascist, corrupt politician or Jedward. Why – goes without saying, especially in the case of Jedward.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Mitch Hedberg, the comedian, who is unfortunately gone to the great comedy club in the sky. His non-stop one-liners delivered in a totally deadpan American drawl would crack up anyone. Here’s a brief sample, although they’re obviously better delivered in person by Mitch:
A friend of mine took out a photo and said ‘This is me when I was younger’. I said ‘Hey man, of course it’s you when you were younger. Every photo of you is when you were younger. Now if you showed me a photo of you when you were older, I’d be really impressed.’
I tried to throw a yo-yo away. It was impossible.
My girlfriend works at Hooters. In the kitchen.
I like rice. Rice is great when you’re hungry and you want 2,000 of something.
I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.
What are you working on at the moment?
Literally just finishing off a non-fiction book called The Priest Hunters, about bounty hunters who used to hunt down Catholic priests for reward during the 17th century. It’s out in the spring. After that I hope to start work on another historical novel, which I’ve been researching for months.
Which six people would you invite to your boating party?
My six closest friends.
What question would you liked me to have asked?
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Don’t waste time, it’s too valuable.
Thank you, Colin.
Colin C. Murphy is an Irish author whose first novel, ‘Boycott’ will be published in October 2012. Previously he has written a non-fiction book entitled ‘The Most Famous Irish People You’ve Never Heard Of’ concerning Irish emigrants who found fame abroad but are little known in their native country. He has also written a light-hearted look at Irish history called ‘The Feckin’ Book of Irish History’, which is one of a series of very successful Feckin’ books that take a humorous look at different aspects of Irish culture. Previous to his career as an author he was the Creative Director of a leading Irish advertising agency, Owens DDB. He is married to Gráinne and has two grown-up children, Emmet and Cíara. He lives in Dublin.