Interview with Mark Connelly, author of 'The IRA on Film and Television'


Born in Philadelphia, Mark Connelly completed a masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he received a Ph.D in English.  His books include The Diminished Self: Orwell and the Loss of Freedom, Orwell and Gissing, Deadly Closets:  The Fiction of Charles Jackson, and several college textbooks.  He currently teaches literature and film in Milwaukee, where he is the Vice-President of the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin.

His latest book is The IRA on Film and Television.

You can visit his website at www.theiraonfilmandtelevision.com.

TWL: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I thought about writing this book for years.  I was always struck by the number of motion pictures about the Irish Republican Army.  Devoted to unifying Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, the IRA has no global agenda.  An IRA victory would not create a haven for international terrorists, affect the price of oil, destabilize NATO, or endanger British security.  The conflict known as the The Troubles concerned the fate of 1.5 million people who would either remain British subjects or become citizens of the Republic of Ireland.  Yet this organization has attracted filmmakers in a way that Basque separatists or Hamas have not.  This irony led me to find out why.

TWL: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Because of DVD’s, videotapes, and online resources, even obscure films
are far easier to locate.  I cannot imagine how previous scholars, who often saw a film only once on the screen, could analyze motion pictures.  Anyone writing about a number of films has to devote a great deal of time to research.  Watching and rewatching a film to find a key scene or check dialogue can be time consuming.  Accurate note keeping is essential.

TWL: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

McFarland, which published my previous book about the Hardy Boys, was interested in this topic.

TWL: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

This was my twelfth book, so I had no surprises beyond the time it took to research and write.

TWL: Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?

Even after a dozen books, it is still a thrill to open the box and see your work in print.  E-Books are the future, but nothing beats seeing that block of pages on a bookshelf.  You can’t put a Kindle on the coffee table.

TWL: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am writing and revising several textbooks.  I have two novels I am preparing and hope to see in print.

TWL: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Probably the underlying message of my book is for motion picture audiences to distinguish Hollywood from history.  It troubles me to hear so many cable news commentators draw analogies not to actual events but motion pictures, quoting movie characters rather than historical figures and relying on a two hour movie to explain a war or a political movement.
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