What is your latest book about?
“San Francisco is Burning” is the story of the heroic and the cowardly, people who were willing to leave their families to try to save the city of San Francisco and those who tried to profit from the largest fire ever to have occurred in the U.S.A. – indeed it is the largest peacetime fire ever in history, burning 28,000 buildings and killing more than 3,000 people.
What is your writing routine?
Are there ideal conditions? I write every day. The ideal condition is to have a laptop on the lap’s top.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Talk much about that book you are going to write so that your friends and family might come to actually expect it. There is no substitute for a good excuse to keep from writing, but no one is going to do it for you in the end.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure?
Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” the best structured novel I have read. Tom Fleming’s “Duel,” the first and best written of all the recent vogue books about the founding fathers. It understands and so you will understand both Hamilton and Burr, and therein resides the differences and antagonisms in the ideas of our early political and intellectual leaders. Peter Quinn’s “Banished Children of Eve,” because it conveys as true a story of the early Irish experience in America of any book that has ever been written. Ever.
What book are you currently reading?
“Little Chapel on the River” by
Gwendolyn Bounds, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has captured perfectly
the vicissitudes of small-town community, centered on an Irish immigrant who runs a grocery store.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
No. This is an opportunity for a joke, but there are only books I wish I
have read, but have not yet gotten to. I have written the books I have
wanted to write.
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Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by?
Any book by Jane Austen. You go girl!
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Saul of Tarsus, who had he better understood the long-term benefits of circumcision might have precluded the need to create a Christian Church.
What book changed your life?
“Report From Engine Co. 82,” and “Report from Ground Zero.” I feel privileged to have been a part of those straightforward tough, courageous, polite and dignified workers who always put the needs of others before their own. It is as close to Christ’s teaching as I have ever
gotten. At least, when they aren’t cursing.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
Standing on the edge of the 300
foot cliff at Dun Aengus on Inishmore, trying to see Boston. If you are
there and cannot see Boston it is because it is going to rain, or it is
You’re Irish if . . .
your mother once tried to make you eat tripe, if you go to Mass once a week, and if you greet every day remembering people you love and respect.