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September 21, 2018

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Peter Murphy: Writing about Family

August 28, 2018



Just as the next (last) book is about to go out and meet the world, I got a nice message from my publisher informing me that the number of requests to review were encouraging. It was tempting, but I am too hoary to be getting excited about chickens and eggs. Not cynical, just experienced enough to take it all—success and success deferred—for what it really is.


Like most writers, I had hoped that my first book would change the world and set all to rights. It did for a few, but most people remain blissfully unaware of it and I learned to be okay with that. I just went on and wrote some more.


That is why I use the term “next (last).” Because right after I send a manuscript off to the publisher, I start on the next one. And so, it is now. THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMERcomes out in August and I am halfway through the next, next one. 


I do it because it is only from this safe distance that I can look back at what I have done. THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMERwas a bit of a departure for me in that Ireland, and things Irish, gets no mention throughout. I am still Irish, I suppose, but I am . . . in recovery.


THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMERcame about after a conversation with my editor and publisher, the great human being that is Lou Aronica at The Story Plant. Having finished the LIFE & TIMES trilogy, I asked for his advice as to what I should do about growing my audience—a question, he told me, he is often asked. 


“Write to your strengths,” he told me. “You write convincingly about interpersonal conflicts.” (Or words to that effect.)


So I did, and while I have had varied experiences with interpersonal conflicts, both my own and others, in all the areas of life that I have wandered through, the most obvious one, to my mind, was the ultimate testing ground of human interaction; family.


Family is the whole world in a microcosm. It is where we begin to understand that we are not alone in the universe and that we are not the center of it all, either. Although, through personal experience and observations of all that was going on around me, it seems to me that some of those understandings can elude certain people—or be contorted into something else, entirely. You know the ones I mean . . . we all have a few of them hanging from the family tree.


Now I had delved into family in the LIFE & TIMES story, but it was just one of the motifs in a long, arcing chronicle of the world that I had lived in—and no, I am not the protagonist even though he and I shared many experiences. With THE LAST WEEKEND O