'Blood', Belfast, and Brando: Transcript from Live Chat with Author Gerry Cappa

The following is a transcript taken from the LIVE members' chat hosted here at TheWildGeese.com on Monday, July 29, 2013 with Belfast native (and fellow Wild Geese member), Gerry Cappa, right.  Gerry's first novel, "Blood From a Shadow," has just recently been published.  Some editing has been applied for clarity.

 

The Wild Geese: Céad Míle Fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for the live chat with author, Gerry Cappa. My name is Ryan, and I'll be your moderator for tonight's discussion.  Now, joining us from Belfast is Gerry Cappa.  Welcome, Gerry!

Gerard Cappa

:  Thank you Ryan, I just hope my typing is quick enough!

Declan Lyons Welcome, Gerry!

Gerry Regan

:  Go raibh maith agat, Ryan, for bringing Gerry to us. :-)

Gerry Regan 

Hey, Gerry, delighted to gather the tribe together here to learn more about 'Blood From a Shadow' and your own fascinating Irish story!

The Wild Geese

:  Who has our first question?

Gerry Regan:  

How did you come upon the story of the 69th New York, which figures so prominently in 'Blood," Gerry?

Gerard Cappa:  

It was only quite recently that I learnt about the 69th. There was an Irish language documentary, on TG4, a few years ago, just about the time the story was starting to come together. It was a docu-drama, and really fascinating. It fitted into my overall scheme of an Irish American story.

Gerry Regan

:  TG4 -- that's the Irish language broadcaster, I believe!

Ryan O'Rourke:  Yes ...  

www.TG4.ie ... Best programming on Irish television, in my opinion.

Gerard Cappa:  

Yes, part of RTE but set up a few years ago as an Irish language channel. I recall going down to Dublin in the late 70's when RTE2 was being mooted, to join a protest calling for an Irish language station. It came eventually!

Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill:  

Halloween night 1996 - when the dead come back to life

Declan Lyons

:  You seem to be influenced by Ireland's bardic history, among other things. How were you exposed this in Northern Ireland? How important is its cultural significance, there.

Gerry Regan

:  Declan's question intrigues me too, Ger.

Gerard Cappa:  

The Northern Ireland thing doesn't really influence me. Ireland is just Ireland as far as I have always been concerned, certainly from a cultural and heritage point of view. There may be some traditions with a particular northern flavour (say the Tain, or music styles), but we could always access any tradition.  I recall hearing a BBC NI radio programme for schools, Today & Yesterday in Northern Ireland, about the O'Neills, Shane, Hugh etc, when I was about 7 or 8 years old. That resonated with me, and is an example of how important good schools programming is.

Gerry Regan

:  Ger, tell us how you came upon the surname Maknazpy for your protagonist. You hinted that there is a fascinating Gaeilge context to this, or at least a phonetic context that wasn't obvious to me.

Gerard Cappa:  

Maybe a bit of a spoiler, Gerry, but here goes - Maknazpy thinks he is Polish until it is revealed that his ancestor, MacAnespie, had to flee Ireland after some trouble with the British authorities. He changed his name to Maknazpy while in Brooklyn, joined the Irish Brigade, fought at Marye's Ht, 

witnessed his two younger brothers killed in the battle, then disappeared from the Irish community. MacAnespie probably comes from Mac an Giolla Easpaigh (son of the Bishops' servant, or maybe just the Bishop's Son - dating back to the days when clergy could marry!

Gerry Regan

:  Of course, now we'll want to learn more about MacAnespie. May have to hit the book(s) again. ;-)

Declan Lyons

:  Are you fan of conspiracy thrillers, Gerry? It seems to be a major part of your book.  Answer as broadly as you need.

Gerard Cappa:  

Very much. Maybe even more as cinema, those 70s classics like 3 Days of the Condor. For a while there I was reading mostly crime and thrillers, people like Philip Kerr, Robert Wilson, and the Scandinavian crime writers. But my early reading was all Irish literature, I'd even say I was a little too chauvinist as far as that goes. If it wasn't Irish related, I didn't read it. As I said somewhere else, I must have lightened up a bit later on when I started to read crime and murder.

Declan Lyons

:  Crime and murder lightened you up!? Lol!

Gerard Cappa
:  
I was knocking about Belfast, after all.

Ryan O'Rourke:  

I'd like to hear just a bit more about the Irish language organisation you work with, Gerry. What is the day-to-day work of the organisation?

Gerard Cappa

:  It is a funder, with £8 million to fund Irish language organisations in the north. It is a capital build fund, so will assist language groups to build or improve physical infrastructure. It came about as part of the Peace Talks, and was really established to redress the imbalance of before, when authority held the default position of being hostile to the language and Irish culture in general.

Valerie Lapin Ganley

:  In addition to Ireland, your novel takes place in New York, Rome and Istanbul. How do you ensure that your depictions of those places are authentic? Have you spent considerable time in those cities?

Gerard Cappa:  

I walked the path that I set my character on., so I've been to each of those places. I'm not sure you need to totally immerse yourself before you are qualified to include a locale in your story, though. My pre-eminent goal is to convey emotion, so I felt comfortable in using those places. It makes it 

easier, of course, if you have been there. A couple of hotels are included, and those were just straightforward descriptions of the hotels I stayed in.

Valerie Lapin Ganley

:  Thanks. That aspect of the creative process is interesting.  If it doesn't feel real to the reader, you lose credibility. That happens so often with feature films.

Gerard Cappa

:  Yes, I think there is a balance between reproducing the reality of any place or society, and letting your fictional character portray it as he or she finds it (they could totally misrepresent it,of course, and still be true to their character).

Kelly O'Rourke

:  Can I have the answers to the crossword puzzle, please? :-)

Gerard Cappa

:  You'll find a good few extra clues in my profile pages, Kelly, including the photos and videos. I've added a couple of comments to complement the original clues, and will add more as the new clues come up. How have you found it so far?

Kelly O'Rourke

:  Good fun! Challenging, but quite interesting.

Gerard Cappa

:  A bit of Googling never did any harm!

Kelly O'Rourke

:  Absolutely!

The Wild Geese:  

Here's that crossword puzzle, by the way:

Declan Lyons

:  Did the idea for the puzzle come before, after or during the writing process?

Gerard Cappa

:  A bit of each really. I had the plot mapped out (more or less!) but little references would jump out at me as I was writing. It could be seen to be self indulgent to twist the story around to let me include them, but that's half the fun of writing. Also, I was really writing it for myself.  That's a good state of mind to be in, I think, when you are writing. Hopefully people can enjoy whatever they want to take out of it, but in the end, I was happy that I had entertained myself - not necessarily a recipe for a best seller, though

Tiffany Silverberg Tell us about Maknazpy's attitudes toward women, and if you see them as typical or atypical of Irishmen today.

Gerard Cappa

:  That's a hard one Tiffany. For starters, I think the norm amongst Irishmen today is to be a much more enlightened bunch than our parents or g-parents generation - I hope so anyway. As for Maknazpy, he is a scarred, damaged personality. I'd think he would want to express himself as a normal human being, having said that, his attitude to everybody, men and women, leaves something to be desired - that's part of his baggage

Tiffany Silverberg:  

Do you have ambitions to turn this narrative into a screen play, and who might you like to see cast as some of the major characters?

Gerard Cappa

:  If somebody approached me with a project I would be interested, but I have no plans myself. I don't know about the actors, but I'd be very happy if somebody like Neil Jordan took it on as the Director. If you put me on the spot, I would say somebody like Marlon Brando -wouldn't that be great

Ryan O'Rourke:  

Brando ... yes!

Gerry Regan:  

A young Brando, I gather, unless he's playing Gallogly, no?

Gerard Cappa:  

The Wild One, Gerry?  

What about Gerry Regan as the urbane, sophisticated Mon Art McCooey?

Gerry Regan:  

Aren't they all, Ger? ;-)  Ger, unfortunately we can't doing 'readings' in the chat room here, but do you have a favorite excerpt from the book that you can quickly share?  I suspect each writer has at least one excerpt that feels particularly trenchant, particularly inspired.

Gerard Cappa

:  I like the Istanbul section, partly because I really enjoyed my stay there. Matbe being in a different culture freed me up from worrying about getting local details right.

Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill

:  Gerard, why not film yourself doing a reading and post it here or to YouTube?

Gerard Cappa:  

Ronan, good idea, but only if I could get a decent reader. I am definitely a back room boy, I would only put everybody off reading it themselves. Any volunteers?

Ryan O'Rourke:  

Take out an ad for that in The Green Pages, Gerry! :-)

Tiffany Silverberg

:  Ha! With members all over the world, I bet we have some fantastic accents for reading!

Gerard Cappa

:  Reader wanted, must have Yonkers accent. I'm not 100% sure what McLen Yonkers accent is, I found it hard to differentiate with Bronx.

The Wild Geese

:  We'll have to close it there for tonight, folks. We thank Gerry Cappa for his time tonight, as well as all who joined us for an enjoyable hour of discussion.  Keep your "eyes peeled" for our next live members' chat, which won't be too far off!

Declan Lyons:  

Thanks, Gerry, and thanks Wild Geese.

Gerry Regan

:  Ger, go raibh mile maith agat!

Tiffany Silverberg

:  Thanks, Gerry!!

Gerard Cappa

:  Thanks everybody, and good luck with the crossword.

 

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