Sunday, November 16, 2008

This week's guest blogger: Roy French

Like many of his Irish countrymen, Roy French is a born storyteller. He writes classic thrillers and the sixth novel in his Raven series, Raven's Shadow will soon be released. When he speaks about "the troubles" in and around his native Belfast, I listen because this man really knows what went on, and thus his novels have a truly authentic feel to them. To find out more about the man and his writing, visit


A heavy mist lay over the city like a shroud...

I suppose it’s only fitting if that city is Belfast.

I just got back from a long weekend there, and as always the emotions run rampant as I put pen to paper. And it rained—it ‘s always raining with that damp cold that gets into your bones and leaves you shaking like a wet dog.

My series character, the Raven, was once one of the most feared paramilitary enforcers during the ‘Troubles,’ which supposedly ended with the Good Friday accord.

However, as I passed through the city and some of the bars the odd snippets of conversation showed that the undercurrents of sectarianism will linger for a good while yet.

Over my four-day sojourn, two GAA clubhouses were fire bombed, an Orange Hall was firebombed in retaliation, the remains of an IRA victim were found, a ‘sophisticated’ three bomb hoax was uncovered near to where I was staying, and there seemed to be a major falling out amongst several terrorists factions who were not in support of the peace process.

The ‘Real IRA’, the INLA, and the Continuity Army council are apparently at odds with one another, so I’m sure a body or two may appear shortly.

All this is grist for the mill, and speaking of grist, I managed to sneak in a quick visit to the Bushmills distillery. They were granted a license to distill in 1608, so this is their 400th anniversary and as good a reason as any to sample their wares.

They make Bushmills regular, Black Bush, which is a higher blend of Rye and whisky and almost got me into big trouble one night in San Diego, but that’s another story, and they have the 12 year and 16 year single malts. Needless to say, my character is fond of Black Bush.

And going through Heathrow was a nightmare in terms of the amount of security checks that are now imposed. I’m going to have to find a better way to get to Belfast.

So there you have it, four days of intense observation, hands on experience, and fodder for many chapters to come...


Anonymous said...

Bushmills. It's not just for breakfast anymore!

Rick Blechta said...

I actually did have Bushmills on my corn flakes many years ago when I was young and foolish and on the road with a rock and roll band.

It certainly sets you up for a day of hard work!