Mick’s debut novel of crime and love finally sees the light of dayFebruary 23, 2012 - 8:00am
The painful process of bringing his first novel to life hasn’t scared Mick Donnellan away from the world of fiction and theatre.
He’s quietly spoken, but focused and it’s easy see how in the space of over a year, he set up his own theatre company and produced three self-penned plays. In the middle of all that, he was also preparing to launch his novel.
Ballinrobe born Mick, who now lives in Galway, wrote El Niño, a crime novel and love story, almost seven years ago, after completing an MA in creative writing at NUIG.
He got a Dublin agent in 2005, who felt that it was only a matter of time before it was published, as there was a considerable appetite back then for crime fiction.
Mick went travelling and waited for the call.
“But then I was told that the fiction market wasn’t happening anymore.”
After coming home in 2010, he focused on writing plays while the unpublished novel languished on the shelf. Eventually he decided if it were ever to be published, he’d have to do himself.
“I was expecting it to work for so long and I celebrated it in advance, only to be let down.”
El Niño is now seeing the light of day in conjunction with a Dublin company called Original Writing, which specialises in self-publishing.
Original Writing shares the work and costs of getting book out and then author and company will agree on a percentage of the returns.
“It works well for me because I already have a platform,” says Mick, referring to the Truman Town Theatre, which has helped to raise his profile.
Mick set up Truman Town Theatre early last year to stage his first play, Sunday Morning Coming Down.
This play had previously caught the eye of the Druid Theatre Company, which commissioned a public reading of the piece in 2009 as part of its scheme to encourage new writing.
Ultimately Druid decided not to give it a full-length production, so Mick took decisive action and set up his own company for that purpose.
The theatre company is named after the 1998 film, The Truman Show, as a sort of a jokey reference to his own life, he explains.
After college, Mick had travelled extensively and kept a blog, where he referred to Ballinrobe as Truman Town, because when he and his friends came home for periods, they found it impossible to get away again.
Truman Town Theatre first staged Sunday Morning Coming Down in the city’s Town Hall Studio theatre early last year.
It sold out in advance and people went wild for it, he says. The company subsequently staged it in Cong, Co Mayo, before returning to the main stage in the Town Hall, continuing on to venues in Clare, Castlebar and Dublin.
Since then they have staged two other plays by Mick, Gunmetal Grey and Shortcut to Hallelujah and are now just back from Kerry where they were performing his new work, The Velvet Revolution. That will shortly be staged in the city’s Town Hall Studio space. Then there are plans to bring Gunmetal Grey to the main stage, and Truman are also gearing up for an Arts Festival production.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.