Saturday, September 22, 2012

Niall Leonard

Niall Leonard is a drama and comedy screenwriter, born in Northern Ireland and living in West London with his wife, bestselling author E L James, and their two children. Among his many television credits, he has created episodes of Wire in the Blood, Silent Witness, Ballykissangel, and Hornblower. He has also led seminars and workshops on screenwriting and script editing for the BBC, the Northern Ireland Film Council, and the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild, and has lectured on the creative process at the University of Reading.

Crusher is Niall Leonard’s debut novel.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the author what he was reading. His reply:
I have been reading an eclectic range of books recently, which is unusual for me as I normally prefer fiction. However last August I found Little America: The War Inside The War For Afghanistan by Rajiv Chandrasekaran to be stranger, funnier and more tragic than any work of fiction I have read for a long time. Its tale of how bureaucracy, government infighting and terrifying myopia of the agencies meant to be addressing the fundamental problems of Afghanistan have squandered talent, goodwill, billions of dollars and countless lives, both American and Afghani. It's as bleak and as black as Heller's Catch 22 except there is not a word of exaggeration or satire in it - it's almost too horrifyingly true to contemplate.

From there I moved onto Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies, sequel to Wolf Hall, and the second novel tracing the career of Thomas Cromwell, a former mercenary who has worked his way up to become executive minister to Henry VIII. Cromwell's humble origins earn him the contempt of Henry's aristocratic hangers-on and his new Queen, Anne Boleyn. Cromwell plays a longer game and in a few years, when Henry tires of Anne and asks - without asking - to be relieved of this Queen, Cromwell obliges, and ensures that the courtly sycophants that humiliated him share her fate. Yet we sense that Cromwell's own days are numbered and that it is not a matter of if he will fall from grace but when.

Immensely vivid, detailed and human, its dense narrative and subtle political manoeuvres are interwoven with deeply human insight to create a novel that is rich, brutal, tragic, epic, and terrifying in its scale.

My own first novel, Crusher, has recently been released. A crime novel aimed at young adults, it made me realise that crime fiction is a huge field I would like to know better. To remedy this I picked up Black Flowers by the little-known English author Steve Mosby, and although I am only 60 pages in I already feel myself ensnared by an intricate, dark and tangled web drawing me towards something mysterious and horrible. I sense that this will be one novel that delivers on what it has set up, and would happily recommend it to any fan of the genre, or any fan of good novels, in fact.
Visit Niall Leonard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue