The day I made some new friends on the train

Writing is a journey.

Therefore it was appropriate that the one I am about to tell you about started as the train pulled out of Seán Heuston Station to take me to Cork.

It was 2006.

The writing process can be broken down into three parts:

Gathering

Shaping

Finishing.

By the time I was in the Rebel County I had gathered faster than the train had taken me to Cork.

I was there to research a book and I was being assisted by Pat Buckley, an undauntable man who is now a Sinn Féin TD.

By the time I shook Pat’s hand at Cork station all of the main characters existed and I had a fair idea of what I wanted to put them through.

The initial idea in my head was that it had to be a screenplay and that is how the initial “shaping” progressed.

I took it to a film director and he loved it.

The idea then progressed onto the “Step Outline” phase of a full screenplay.

It is, pardon the pun, a key step along the way to the document that is at the heart of every movie.

The step outline briefly details every scene of the screenplay’s story and often has indications for dialogue and character interactions.

When the director came back to he said: “what you’ve brought me here is the Irish Bourne Identity, but I can’t raise the finance”.

With that, I put the project on the shelf.

Shortly afterwards this blog started and, well, you should know the rest.

However, the unfinished project of The Squad annoyed me intensely.

The project remained on the shelf until the summer of 2016.

I was driving out of Westport after commemorating the 31 men who had been interned in Frongoch Camp when I told the Big Fella that I had to finish the book.

I had one of those tiocfaidh ár leabhar moments!

In some respects, the most difficult part was re-working what I had into straight prose.

My last summer the draft manuscript was completed.

It then was put into the editing process and, for the most part, it emerged unscathed.

I am told that this is rare and that I should take it as an accolade for a first-time novelist.

Then it was cover design and the publisher doing their bit.

Interacting with the bookstores etc.

From manuscript to bookshelf a novel usually takes twelve months.

I was surprised to learn this from my publisher, but he has over 25 years in the game.

Unsurprisingly, he was spot on.

The Squad is now ready for active service.

It is available for pre-order direct from Frontline Noir.

Free postage and signed copy from this fella.

By buying direct you support an independent publisher.

The book will be available from all mainstream outlets from 22nd June and out on Kindle shortly afterwards.

I hope you enjoy the journey.

It was a blast to write it.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion