Tuesday, 22 December 2015

As 2015 Closes

I'll do my best not to ramble, and keep this to a tight 700-word post.

As is my habit, I’ve been thinking about what comes next as opposed to what has happened. My main concern is that the current situation I find myself in is going to come to an end. Jeepers creepers. The end is nigh!

That sounds dramatic, right? Indulge me. I’m a writer.

Right now, I’m a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast. The highlights: I got through my differentiation in June 2014. I taught on the Introduction to Creative Writing Module as a University Tutor, September-December, 2014 and 2015. I’ve completed a novel for the creative component of the thesis (insofar as a novel can be complete before it’s published), and I’m working on the critical component. I’ve attended many interesting courses and conferences. I’ve also taken part in a number of conferences and festival events.

I’m many other things besides a PhD student, but I’m trying to keep this focussed.

If it were possible, I’d be a PhD student for the rest of my days. I love this life. It suits me and my family in that (apart from the teaching aspect), my timetable can be moved about to suit childcare needs, etc. It stimulates me intellectually and allows me time to look after my health, mentally and physically. Before the PhD, I completed an MA in creative writing at QUB while working a full-time job and doing my best to be a husband and father in the time left over (thank you for your patience, Mrs B). I feel that the privilege of working to earn a PhD was the reward.

And as 2016 looms, all I can think about is the fact that my target date to complete this massive project is September 2016.

That’s still nine months away. I know.

But I’m the father of three children. I also know how quickly nine months can pass while you worry about the future.

And yes, I have to think about the future, but I also have to think about the now. If I take my eye off either vague concept of time, I could forget to enjoy the privilege I’ve earned. And so, I have had little time to think about what I’ve actually achieved as a writer and a student. Those achievements – stripped of their attachments of pride and relief – can be viewed in the previous blog post here.

As I read back over this piece, I’m slightly concerned that this will come off as braggadocious. But rather than go back and downplay the achievements, I’ll learn from a criticism that’s levelled at me from time-to-time.

I lack confidence.

Because there’s a fine line between self-deprecation and self-hate, I suppose. When I make fun of myself, people sometimes laugh. When I play the part of arrogant wee shite, people sometimes laugh. When I mock others, people sometimes laugh. I like to make people laugh. It sets them at ease. Gives them a wee oxygen boost to the brain. And when you do it often enough, people smile when they see you. I like that.

My humour tends towards making fun of myself, because I’m an easy target and I know I can take it. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve hurt more sensitive people in the past with my attempts at making others laugh. Taking the piss out of myself is safe.

I also thought that the ability to make people laugh is directly proportional to how confident you are. But I guess other people don’t see it like that.

Let me be clear… I’m pretty fucking confident, people. And I like that about me.

What I don’t like is laziness, especially when I sense it getting in the way of my own ambitions.

So if I act like I’m not all that impressed with myself, it’s because I’m not. I’ve finally figured out that I can do a lot more than what I’ve done. And I refuse to rest on my laurels. Next year, I need to stop worrying about what’s ending and think about the new beginnings that I’ve yet to experience.

Right now my kids are on Christmas holidays. They’ve been to their granny’s and they’re just home and getting loud. I’ve gone a little over 700 words. Rather than edit and lose some of this honesty (typos be damned), I’ll just finish here and go join my family.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Enjoy Whatever You Subscribe To.

Come at me, 2016.

Writing CV, as at December 2015

  • Novella, The Point, Pulp Press 2011 (re-released by Blasted Heath in 2013)
  • Novel, Wee Rockets, Blasted Heath, 2012
  • Novel, Fireproof, Blasted Heath, Fight Card Books, 2012
  • Novella, Welcome to the Octagon, 2013
  • Novella, Wee Danny, Blasted Heath, 2013
  • Novella, Bounce, Verbal Arts Centre (commisioned for the Killer Books festival), 2013
  • Novella, Breaking Point, Blasted Heath, 2014
  • Novel, Undercover, Blasted Heath, 2015

Relevant Work History
  • Freelance Writer at Culture NI (http://www.culturenorthernireland.org), 2010 to 2011
  • Webmaster at Crime Scene NI, a blog devoted to Northern Irish crime writing
  • University Tutor at QUB on the Introduction to Creative Writing module; September 2014 to present. Module includes prose, poetry and drama (screen, stage and radio)

Writing Awards
  • Arts Council of Northern Ireland, SIAP award, received five times between 2007 and 2015 (four times for literature, once for drama)
  • Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Travel award, received to support a trip to Long Beach CA to attend Bouchercon (a crime fiction convention) as a panel member and a representative of Northern Irish crime fiction, 2014
  • Northern Ireland Screen, Script Development award, for screenplays titled The Point and Time, 2008 and 2014 respectively

Theatre Production
  • An Irish Possession, One-man show written and performed for The Black Box Lunchtime Theatre, directed by Conor Maguire, 2010
  • The Sweety Bottle, Regional tour via Brassneck Theatre Company, 2013 (March to April)
  • The Sweety Bottle, Eight performances at The Grand Opera House via Brassneck Theatre Company (transferred from the Baby Grand to the Auditorium due to popular demand – the first play to achieve this at the Grand Opera House in its history), 2013 (August)


  • Masters, Creative Writing, Queen’s University Belfast, 2011-2012
  • PhD student (post-differentiation), Creative Writing thesis titled Radical Crime Fiction, Queen’s University Belfast, 2013-present

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

New Downey

About the author

Garbhan Downey has spent 25 years in the publishing industry in northwest Ireland as a journalist, writer and editor. He has also worked for the BBC as a producer and presenter. A graduate of University College Galway, he lives in Derry with his wife Úna and two children. Once Upon a Time in the North West is his eighth novel.

Back Blurb

Chronicle of a Century

The death of a well-connected Irish newspaper publisher triggers a clandestine hunt to recover his memoirs.

The Americans, concerned that Sean Madden’s private record of the past century will jar with the official account, need to get their hands on it before the British and Irish. But Madden’s hardnosed granddaughter, heir to the North West Chronicle, has her own interests to protect as well.

This pulsating page-turner takes the reader on an epic journey of war and peace, love and loss, politics and criminality right across the twentieth century.

Every secret has its season, and all Sean Madden’s – and all of Derry’s – are about to be laid bare.

‘Expect a literary smack in the mouth’

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Shameless Advertising

I've reduced the price of the paperback versions of Undercover and Wee Rockets on Amazon. The prices will remain low until after Christmas.

Let me be clear, I'd prefer it if you bought my books from No Alibis in Belfast, but that just isn't physically possible for everybody. So this is for the readers who can't make it to my favourite bookshop.

If you want to put a physical copy of one of my books into a friend or relative's hand, using one of the following links is probably the easiest way to do it:

Paperbacks (Ireland &) UK

Paperbacks US

Paperbacks CA

Merry Christmas, folks.