Hello! Here is the Q&A I did with the Irish writer and activist Oisin Fagan. Oisin has a short story collection out right now that you can purchase here. You can also follow him on Twitter here. Are you reading hid book along with me? Let me know in the comments!
1. Where did you grow up? How did that shape you as a writer?
I grew up in the countryside in Co. Meath, Ireland. It shaped me completely and it means that all my writing takes, as its base and setting, the countryside. Cities interest me, and I will write about them, but because of the way I grew up I always feel like there are too many people and things in cities, so whenever I write something set in an urban setting it always accidentally, or subconsciously, falls into the horror or sci-fi genre!
2. When did you realize that writing was something you wanted to do?
Ever since I learned to read, which was pretty late. I remember when I was nine reading Calvin & Hobbes all night and keeping my whole family awake I was laughing so much and I really wanted to bring that much joy to people with writing. I still haven’t, but that’s the goal.
3. Can you remember the first thing you ever wrote and actually felt proud of?
When I was 19 I wrote a story called That was the Sunday I Gave my Love to You. It’s about two Irish migrants in San Francisco and I felt it to be vibrant and alive and unique. Maybe that’s just me, and it’s not as good as I think it is, but I knew parts of it possessed an unexplored perspective in literature, and I knew I could dedicate myself to writing if I honed my craft and left myself open to inspiration. It’s still my favourite thing that I’ve written.
4. How has your family supported your writing career?
They have completely supported me in everything I’ve ever done. They don’t do this by encouraging me to write per se, but just by being a wonderful family. I wouldn’t be able to be as dedicated and independent as I am if I didn’t have their love and strength behind me.
5. Do you write full time?
Unfortunately not. That is a long-term process that I have to work towards. At the moment I work as an English language teacher. That’s a fun job, though, and I enjoy it a lot.
6. What is your writing process? How long does is take you to complete a project?
I write listening to music, on my laptop and I write in two hour bursts. I prefer to work in the morning, but you’ve got to roll with the punches and write when you can. Every project varies. I’m impatient, though and will give up on a project if I’m not making immediate progress. This is a negative trait, something I will have to correct if I’m going to write long-term. So far, I haven’t worked for more than three months on a first draft. Then there’s editing. That takes a long time, but that’s a more relaxed process. It can take a year or so, of on-off work.
7. You’re very passionate about your activism. Can you explain what type of activism you’re involved in?
I’m involved in housing activism. There is a housing crisis in Ireland with lots of working and unemployed families going homeless or living in awful accommodation. I work around those issues. The issue that is most pressing in Ireland, in my opinion, is the need for a massive state-led social housing build. That is something we need to invigorate a movement around.
8. What current issues in Ireland are you passionate about?
So many! Over the last two years there has been a lot of energy around the introduction of water charges. That is a battle we have (seemingly) won through a mass-movement. There is the issue of housing, of course. At the moment there is also a nascent movement against the 8th amendment, which is something in our constitution which gives unborn fetuses the same rights as the women who carry them. This means women have to carry their pregnancy to term, even if the fetus is terminally ill and will die in utero, and kill the mother along with it. It has killed several women over the past few years. Something else in Ireland that infuriates me is Direct Provision, which is basically a horrific, dehumanising prison system that asylum seekers are put in for years while they wait to see if they receive asylum or not.
9. How are you involved with the Irish Housing Network?
I work on the finance team.
10.Can you explain the the Irish Housing Network?
It’s a collection of housing and homeless groups fighting the housing crisis. We believe that housing as a right that should be provided based on need. We share information, resources and co-ordinate actions with groups across Ireland.
11. What projects are you currently working on?
I am writing a novel, but it might be three novels. I’m not sure yet. I have some very good chapters with distinctive styles and I will have to work very hard to see if they fit together or if they are separate.
12. What inspired Hostages?
My childhood, my community and my family. Also, the 21st century and its new struggles are a constant source of inspiration and terror.
13. What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you this year so far?
In terms of writing, my favourite Irish writer, Colin Barrett, said I wrote the best Irish book of the year. That was cool. Also, Hostages is being read by people from my area who don’t normally read books. That’s what I wrote it for and it makes me very happy.
14. Where do you want to see your writing career in the next couple of years?
I just want to keep having fun with writing. My only goal is that it stays fresh and exciting for me. I want to write full-time and I want to be able to be professional, but also keep the magic and the immediacy, if that’s possible. We’ll see. I have very little personal ambition, but I would like to see some shifts in the culture. Some writing that excites young people and makes them feel like everything is possible and up for grabs, which it is.
15. Anything else you would like to let my readers know about you?
Hmmm… I love hip hop, and I think if I have any edge in my writing, it comes from that!